Mt. Lowe from Eaton Saddle


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Looking north from just below Mt. Lowe's summit

Looking north from just below Mt. Lowe’s summit

Looking west from the Mt. Lowe Trail

Looking west from the Mt. Lowe Trail

Mt. Lowe from Eaton Saddle

    • Location: Eaton Saddle, Angeles National Forest.  From I-210 in La Canada, take the Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) northeast for 14 miles.  Take a right on the Mt. Wilson Red Box Road and go 2.3 miles to Eaton Saddle.  Park on the right side of the road in a small turnout.   A National 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/Los Angeles River Ranger District
    • Distance: 3.2  miles
    • Elevation gain: 500 feet
    • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
    • Difficulty rating: PG
    • Best season:  Year-round (depending on conditions)
    • USGS topo maps: Chilao Flat, Mt. Wilson
    • Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking polesinsect repellent
    • Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
    • More information: Trip report here and here; Everytrail report here
    • Rating: 7
0:00 - Sign at the trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

0:00 – Sign at the trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

This perennial favorite among L.A. hikers offers wide views and interesting history.  In the winter, snow is not likely to be too much of an obstacle (though you should still check conditions before going) and in the summer, it can be a nice place to escape the heat, although since the trail is exposed, plan accordingly.

0:08 - View of Mt. Markham and the remains of the Cliff Trail, just before the tunnel (times are approximate)

0:08 – View of Mt. Markham and the remains of the Cliff Trail, just before the tunnel (times are approximate)

From the parking area, pass by the metal gate (look for an interpretive plaque describing the history of the Mt. Lowe Railroad) and follow the dirt road. Right in front of you is the cone-like shape of Mt. Markham.

0:12 - Turn left on the Mt. Lowe Trail at the junction

0:12 – Turn left on the Mt. Lowe Trail at the junction

At 0.3 miles, you reach Mueller Tunnel, built to bypass the infamous Cliff Trail, which allowed literally no room for error (and severe consequences if an error did happen.) Remnants of the trail can still be seen.

0:25 - Approaching the saddle between Markham and Lowe

0:25 – Approaching the saddle between Markham and Lowe

On the opposite side of the tunnel, you reach a four-way junction. Head left on the single-track Mt. Lowe Trail, climbing through an area burned in the Station Fire. You get nice views of the canyon as you ascend, following the ridge along Mt. Markham’s north slope. At about a mile, you reach a saddle between Markham and Lowe, where you can see the latter’s summit looming ahead. Hikers with a fear of heights might want to take their time on this stretch; although it’s not as scary as the Cliff Trail, the route does cut pretty close to the edge here.

0:35 - Hard right at the junction

0:35 – Hard right at the junction

At 1.3 miles, take a sharp right at a junction and continue your climb. The views continue to be good; you can see Mt. Disappointment with its antenna installations on top. If you’re a long-time hiker, you probably know the story of how Mt. Disappointment got its name, but if you don’t and are interested, you can read about it here.

0:42 - Spur to the summit (turn left)

0:42 – Spur to the summit (turn left)

At 1.5 miles, take a left on a short spur leading to the summit. Even if the air quality is bad (which it usually is during the summer), the view is still impressive: Mt. Baldy, San Jacinto, Saddleback and more. A bench provides a nice resting spot for enjoying the view before heading back down.

0:45 - Mt. Disappointment, San Gabriel and Markham from the Mt. Lowe summit

0:45 – Mt. Disappointment, San Gabriel and Markham from the Mt. Lowe 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.

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