Mt. Lukens via Crescenta View and Rim of the Valley Trails
Mt. Lukens is notable as being the highest point in the city limits of Los Angeles, and also the westernmost major summit of the San Gabriels. There are several routes to the top. This trip makes a loop from Deukmejian Wilderness Park in Glendale, ascending via the Crescenta View Trail and descending via the Rim of the Valley Trail. The views on both legs of the hike are great; if visibility is good, expect to see Old Saddleback, Catalina Island, Santa Barbara Island, the entire Santa Monica range and more. The antennas on top of Lukens prevent it from being one of So Cal’s all-time great hikes, but it’s still an essential peak. The route from Deukmejian is easily accessible to L.A. and the Valley, and requires no Adventure Pass, as the Stone Canyon approach does.
From north end of the parking area, turn right at the information board and make your way up into Dunsmore Canyon. You pass by a tree that survived the Station Fire, and the antennas on top of Lukens will be visible in the distance. The Le Mesnager Loop, your return route, branches off to the left at 0.3 miles, and at 0.5, head right (downhill) on a rough-looking single-track, the Crescenta View Trail. This trail crosses the canyon and begins a steep, rugged ascent, climbing about 2,000 feet over the next 2.5 miles. The Station Fire and numerous landslides have made the route difficult to follow in some parts. The good news is that it the steep climb gives some great views pretty quickly, including the Verdugos, the Hollywood Hills and downtown L.A.
A neatly arranged circle of stones, about 2 miles from the start, provides a nice place to take a break, with great views to the south. Beyond this point, the trail begins a steep ascent up a ridge, finally arriving at a fire road signed both as the Pickens Spur and Forest Road 2n76C. Here, you finally get a little bit of a break, as you only have an additional 600 feet to climb over the next 1.8 miles to reach the summit, which is prominently visible on the left.
At 3.5 miles from the start, you reach Mt. Lukens Road, where you are rewarded with a great view of the Big Tujunga area of the Angeles National Forest. Strawberry Peak, San Gabriel Peak and Mt. Wilson are all easily seen; depending on visibility, you may be able to see farther to some of the high summits of the back country.
Head left on Mt. Lukens Road and walk the last easy mile to the summit, enjoying great views of the Valley and L.A. At the summit, you can walk to the end of a dirt road and get some more great views to the west.
You can return by the same route, but to make a loop, continue on Mt. Lukens Road, heading downhill and northwest. After a quarter mile, turn left at the junction and begin a long, winding descent along the mountain’s southwest flank. At 7.6 miles (3 below the summit), the road continues to the right toward Haines Canyon, but to get back to Deukmejian Park, turn left on the steep Rim of the Valley Trail.
You make some steep switchbacks, taking in great views along the way. There are a few places where the trail clings precariously to the side of the ridge, which may test the nerves of some hikers (particularly those with any kind of fear of heights.) At 8.8 miles, you get a pleasant surprise (well, I guess it’s not a surprise anymore) as the trail dips into wooded Cook Canyon. A seasonal stream runs through the bottom of the canyon, and the shade is a nice contrast from the exposed terrain thus far.
After crossing the stream, you make a final, brief ascent, joining the Le Mesnager Loop trail. Now, you’re more or less home free as you turn right and follow the trail back down into Dunsmore Canyon, enjoying a few last dramatic views of the mountains above. At 9.8 miles, you reach the Dunsmore Canyon Trail. Turn right and head back downhill to the parking lot, and give yourself a pat on the back for conquering the tallest peak in Los Angeles.
Text and photography copyright 2013 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or
publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up
to date trail condition information.