Mt. Lukens via Crescenta View and Rim of the Valley Trails
- Location: 3429 Markridge Road, Glendale. From the 210 freeway, take the Pennsylvania Ave. exit and head north for 1.1 miles. Turn left on Brookhill St., go 0.3 miles and turn right on New York Ave. Go 0.7 miles and turn left on Markridge, and the park is on the right.
- Agency: City of Glendale Parks & Recreation (Deukmejian Wilderness Park), Angles National Forest/Los Angeles River Ranger District
- Distance 10 miles
- Elevation gain: 2,900 feet
- Difficulty Rating: R (Steepness, elevation gain, distance, terrain)
- Suggested time: 5.5 hours
- Best season: November – May (lot open 7am – sunset daily)
- USGS topo map: Sunland, Burbank, Condor Peak
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sunblock; sun hat
- More information: Trip report here; Summit Post page here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 9
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.
Volunteer Trail Restoration Crew has been working on the Crescenta View Trail and have completed section from Crescenta View Trail to about 1/2 mile below Circle of Rocks.
Hi Karen, Thanks for all your volunteer work on the trails. I grew up in La Cañada / La Crescenta but have been living in the Seattle area for the last 23 years. I love going home and running the hills in town and it is great the the fire damage was repaired so quickly. I will be there early next month and would love to run up the Crescenta View Trail to the Lukens road. Will that be OK?
The Crescenta View Trail is in great shape and it is a perfect time of year to hike. Enjoy!
For a January hike, I assume you recommend warm clothes and layers? Pics seem to have a few inches of snow on the ground…
Yeah, at least a light jacket. The temperature on the summit will probably be at least 10 degrees cooler than at the trailhead. A jacket or sweater that won’t add much extra weight would probably be a good idea.
I grew up at 3105 Clousdcrest Rd. and Hopeton.
In 1970, I stared hiking up the ridge from the top of Pinecone.
My friends and I would stop at the place the circle rocks are now to stop and take a break after the straight up hike on the ridge. I wanted a wind break to heat water with Sterno cans to make soup or what ever.
With many more hikes, for a 13 year old, I built up a square rock wall with an entry.
For several years until I graduated from CVHS in 1975, My friends and I used the rock wall as a half way stop to Mt Lukens. We would leave at 4 am to watch the sun rise from Mt Lukens.
We had a large tarp, that we kept on the side of the hill in bushes, to make a cover over the rocks.
With the use of a tall stick we had a tent and a place out of the sun.
On one occasion, while at Mt Lukens, we were sitting waiting for the sun to rise and over 100 Mule deer started running up and around all the building to the point we sat and waited for them to leave.
When walking the Crescenta view trail, I was very surprised to see that others kept the wind break alive.
Wait… are you saying you built the rock circle?! For years my dad and I have speculated as to who may have built it and how longs it’s been there. I grew up in LaCrescenta as well. I graduated CV in ’93.
When I was younger (before Deukmejian Park existed) we would enter the mountains at the top of Maryland Ave., head left on the dirt portion of Markridge Ave.and make our way to the debris basin above New York Ave. Back then the basin was filled with water and had gold fish and frogs. From there we would hike up the adjacent fire break and eventually find the trail.
Just a ways past the rock circle there is a high point which my dad referred to as “Old Gym Shorts” because at this spot someone hung a pair of gym shorts on a pole. Were those perhaps your PE shorts from CV?
Yes my friends and I built the first square walls about 3 ft tall and no those were not my PE shorts.
thank you! my husband and I have enjoyed resting at the stone circle many times, including today when we did the full loop for the first time
Some friends and I plan to do this hike on December 25th.
Weather on the peak: http://www.airsites2000.com/mount_lukens_wx.htm
The Deukmejian Wilderness Park hosts are moving on come April 2015 – anyone want a job?
We had a great time out there today. I have an important correction. This:
“After a quarter mile, turn right at the junction and begin a long, winding descent along the mountain’s southwest flank.”
“After a quarter mile, turn LEFT at the junction and begin a long, winding descent along the mountain’s southwest flank.”
Good catch, thank you. I try to be 100% accurate but every so often something slips. Glad you guys had a good time.
did a piece of this today as our last hike in LA for a few months… UP the Rim trail – what great views and not a measly amount of effort – we figured about 1400′ elevation with ups,downs, side trips to the view points, etc. The passage through the canyon bed is lovely, tho’ obviously the poison oak there thinks so too. We will come back in February to do the loop you suggest. We made the mistake of hiking Lukens on a fire road as one of our first hikes in SoCal several years ago – in the heat – and I about died (I don’t do heat well). We had avoided it since then, but time to try it again on the loop you suggest in the right weather. BTW, the park is manicured to within an inch of itself… quite lovely if you like that sort of thing, and the 100 yr old stone barn of interest too… so very close to downtown LA but lots we had not seen before.
In cool weather the loop is very enjoyable, especially if there is a dusting of snow near the top as there was on NYE 2012 when I did the hike. L.A. is supposed to get a pretty wet winter this year so hopefully the air will be nice and clear and the views will be as good as they were when I did the hike. Hope you get a chance to do the full loop – it’s one of my favorites.
We just hiked Mt Lukens for the first time today. It was great! We are big hikers (Sierras, Baldy, San Jacinto, etc). These times were very accurate. To add to them, I felt like the first 2 miles to the rock circle is the steepest. From there it’s not too bad (though Mt Lukens road to the top was steeper than I assumed). Coming down the road on the other side, there is a “maybe trail” to the left that goes uphill. Rocks are in front of it. Don’t take this one. Just a ways up on the left is another “fakeout trail” that goes steeply down on the left. Juts keep heading down the “road” (which seems like a single file trail sometimes. You will then see a large post on the left. That’s where you should turn left to get on the Rim of the Valley trail back to the car. We got a little confused but made it. We enjoyed some deer sightings and also took the off -shoot trail to check out the VW bug and then rejoined the fire road. It was a bit hot today (we started at noon) but was overall a great day! Thanks for the write-up!!
Hi Melanie, glad you enjoyed the hike and found the write-up helpful, it’s certainly a great one. Thanks too for your additional info. Best to you and Scott.
Did the loop – up Crescenta and down Rim of the Valley last Friday, 2.7 – lovely weather and great loop. We had forgotten we had done just the Rim of the Valley trail in 2015 until we read our comments here!
The turn-off for RoftheV is a bit tricky – the photo really helps! There is a similar turn-off with poles (but not a square one) and a similar trail in the distance – but not quite the same. That may be the “fakeout trail” Melanie mentions – and it has no blockade in front of it. The mileage is vague enough that we almost took that one, since one can’t see from there where the real one might appear. Both trails are very well maintained. Dianne
It’s a great hike – wish I had done it one or two times again before I left. Glad you found the photos helpful; one of my goals is to convey as much information with photos as possible – ” picture is worth a thousand words.”