Difficulty R Distance 5.1 to 10 miles General information: Dogs allowed General information: Hikes with free parking Rating: 7-8 San Gabriel Valley & Foothills (East) Season: Fall/Early Winter Season: Late Winter/Spring

Mt. Bliss via Van Tassel Motorway


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Mt. Baldy from the summit of Mt. Bliss
Mt. Baldy from the summit of Mt. Bliss
Southeast view from Mt. Bliss (including Old Saddleback)
Southeast view from Mt. Bliss (including Old Saddleback)

Mt. Bliss via Van Tassel Motorway

        • Location: Angeles National Forest foothills north of Azusa and Duarte.  From the south, take I-605 to its northern terminus, just past I-210.  At the intersection, turn right on Huntington Drive.  Go 0.6 miles to Encanto Parkway and turn left.  Go 1.4 miles, just past the Van Tassel Motorway, and park in the Fish Canyon Falls parking lot on the left side of the road. From Pasadena, take I-210 to the Mt. Olive exit.  At the bottom of the off ramp, turn right on Huntington Drive and follow the directions above.  From the east, take I-210 to the Irwindale Ave exit.  Turn right and go 0.2 miles to Foothill Blvd.  Turn left and go 0.8 miles (Foothill becomes Huntington) and turn right on Encanto Parkway.
        • Agency: Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles River Ranger District/City of Duarte
        • Distance: 9.6 miles (from Fish Canyon Falls parking lot)
        • Elevation gain: 3,100 feet (from Fish Canyon Falls parking lot)
        • Difficulty Rating: R (Steepness, elevation gain, distance)
        • Suggested time: 5 hours
        • Best season: November – May
        • USGS topo map: Azusa
        • Recommended gear: insect repellent; sunblock; sun hat
        • More information:  Trip reports here and here; Everytrail report here
        • Rating: 8
0:00 - Beginning of the hike on Encanto Parkway (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)
0:00 – Beginning of the hike on Encanto Parkway (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

This challenging hike in the Angeles National Forest foothills can be quite enjoyable on cool, clear days. Make sure you bring good protection from the sun (the route is almost entirely exposed) and plenty of water.  Bugs can be annoying during the spring as well. The good news is that navigation and terrain are easy; the only stretch that’s at all rough is the short push to the summit. Located conveniently to the San Gabriel Valley, Mt. Bliss is a great training hike.

0:13 - Beginning the climb on the motorway past the equestrian center (times are approximate)
0:13 – Beginning the climb on the motorway past the equestrian center (times are approximate)

From the Fish Canyon Falls parking area, head right out of the lot and right onto the Van Tassel Motorway. (You might be able to park inside the equestrian center, but parking at the Fish Canyon Falls trail head is more convenient, and allows you to warm up a little before beginning the ascent. Doing so adds a total of one mile and about 200 feet of elevation gain.) It should also be noted that the alternate route from Mel Canyon Drive in Azusa has become overgrown and is fenced off.

0:47 - view of L.A. (times are approximate)
0:47 – view of L.A. (times are approximate)

At 0.5 miles, you reach a gate at the far end of the equestrian center.  As of this writing, there is construction going on throughout the route, so be careful of trucks and other vehicles, although I found the drivers to be friendly.

1:25 - Shade!
1:25 – Shade!

You begin a long, twisting climb out of the canyon, taking in nice views of the L.A. Basin on the way up. At 1.9 miles from the start, you cross under some tall power lines and come to an intersection. Stay left at a junction soon after and continue your ascent.

2:11 - Turn right and continue uphill
2:11 – Turn right and continue uphill

At about 2.5 miles, you enter a nice stretch with some shade, and coming out of it, you can see Mt. Wilson to the west. Your climb continues, finally reaching a junction at 4.5 miles. Turn right, and just before the road dips down, take a hairpin turn to the left and begin climbing a ridge. Crossing under more power lines, you follow a rough but easy to follow use trail to the summit.

2:17 - Hard left on the summit ridge
2:17 – Hard left on the summit ridge

On Mt. Bliss, the clear day views include San Gorgonio, San Jacinto and Santa Rosa to the east, the Palomars of San Diego to the southeast, Catalina Island, downtown L.A., and Boney Mountain in the western Santa Monicas. Even if there is smog and haze, the view of Baldy and the San Gabriels is impressive.

2:25 - You made it!
2:25 – You made it!

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.

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5 comments

  1. Are you sure it’s “left, then left” out of the parking lot? I would think the first left would send you into the Vulcan fence, and the second into the equestrian area, with the Fish Canyon trail beyond. Unless I’m thinking of a different parking lot then you are. . . .

    From the lot I’m thinking of, right and right would send you down a road that I think leads to a dirt road/trail that I thought was the Van Tassel Motorway.

  2. A surprisingly good hike with a very nice “blissful” view at the top. Better than I expected. However, I recommend that unless you are hiking with others and like to talk, bring some headphones. The din from the traffic is ceaseless.

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