Mt. Islip (North Approach)


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Trees near the summit of Mt. Islip
Trees near the summit of Mt. Islip
View of the high desert from below Little Jimmy Trail Camp
View of the high desert from the P.C.T. below Little Jimmy Trail Camp

Mt. Islip (North Approach)

        • Location:  Angeles National Forest.  From I-210 in La Canada, take the Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) northeast for 41 miles.  Just past marker 65.5, park at a dirt turnout on the side of the road (about a mile and a half past Islip Saddle).  From Highway 138, take Highway 2 west for 23.2 miles and the parking area will be on the left side of the road, shortly before Islip Saddle.  A United States Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required for parking here. Click here to purchase.
        • Agency: Angeles National Forest
        • Distance:  6 miles
        • Elevation gain: 1,250 feet
        • Suggested time: 3 hours
        • Difficulty rating: PG-13 (Altitude,  elevation gain)
        • Best season: May – November
        • USGS topo map: Crystal Lake
        • Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
        • More information: Trip reports here and here; Everytrail report here
        • Rating: 8

You already know how to get to Mt. Islip from Crystal Lake, so in this post we’ll look at the northern route. The approach from Highway 2 is shorter and easier than from the south, but it is still a challenging workout; hikers sensitive to altitude will want to keep in mind that the trail head is at about 7,000 feet.  While the views aren’t quite as dramatic, there is still some nice scenery that makes it well worth the trip.

0:00 - Trail head on Angeles Crest Highway (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)
0:00 – Trail head on Angeles Crest Highway (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

From the highway, look for a dirt road heading uphill. Pass the yellow gate and begin walking up the fire road, making a steady ascent through the pines to reach a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (0.6 miles.)

0:15 - Junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (times are approximate)
0:15 – Junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (times are approximate)

Turn left on the P.C.T. (the right fork heads back down to Islip Saddle, an alternative starting point for the hike.) You head through a pleasant forest of sugar pines with a few glimpses of the road below and the high desert to the north. At 1.7 miles, you reach the Little Jimmy Trail Camp.

0:42 - Following the trail through Little Jimmy Camp
0:42 – Following the trail through Little Jimmy Camp

After the first group of picnic tables, look for a path heading sharply to the right; the P.C.T. continues south toward Windy Gap. Head through the campsite, past the outhouses, and look for the signed trail heading uphill. Follow it past some more picnic tables, reaching a Y-junction (2 miles.)

0:45 - Following the trail out of Little Jimmy Trail Camp
0:45 – Following the trail out of Little Jimmy Trail Camp

Here, bear right and continue uphill. At this point, you are sharing the route with the southern approach, and as you climb, you get great views of Hawkins Ridge to the east and Crystal Lake to the south. As you follow the ridge, you’ll see the cone of Islip’s summit.

1:00 - Bear right at the junction
1:00 – Bear right at the junction

Finally you reach the spur leading to the peak. Bear right and make the last few switchbacks to the summit, where you will pass an abandoned stone cabin before reaching the very top. On Islip’s summit, enjoy a 360-degree view of the San Gabriels, the L.A. basin and the high desert.

1:18 - Spur to the summit
1:18 – Spur to the summit

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.

1:25 - Looking southwest from Mt. Islip
1:25 – Looking southwest from Mt. Islip


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One thought on “Mt. Islip (North Approach)

  1. Hi David – we did – sort of – this hike yesterday – a great sunny, not too hot day to be in the San Gabriels. We started on the PCH trail at Islip Saddle (near Rte 39) and did a small loop on the way back going to Windy Gap and taking the lower path down to Little Jimmy… plus visited the Little Jimmy springs (hope that wasn’t poison oak surrounding it!). It was about 7 miles and 1600′ for all that. And no road trekking. We’ve been on Islip from Crystal Lake before. This is an easier route, to be sure, and lovely in the un-burned pines. Of course, one needs to go on a Thurs-Sun and finish in time for a beer or coke at Newcomb’s Ranch with the bikers.

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