Difficulty PG13 Distance 2.1 to 5 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

Upper Colby Trail


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View from the top of the Upper Colby Trail
View from the top of the Upper Colby Trail
Steep descent on the Upper Colby Trail
Steep descent on the Upper Colby Trail

Upper Colby Trail

  • Location: San Gabriel Foothills north of Glendora.  From L.A. and Pasadena, take I-210 to Grand Ave North.  Go north on Grand Avenue for 2.2 miles and turn right on Sierra Madre.  Go 2 miles and turn left on Glendora Mountain Road.  In 2.2 miles, park at a small dirt turnout on the left side of the road, just as it makes a hairpin turn to the right.  From the Inland Empire, take the 210 Freeway to Lone Hill Avenue.  Turn right and go a mile to Foothill Blvd.  Turn left and go 0.5 miles to Valley Center.  Turn right and go 0.8 miles to Sierra Madre.  Turn left and make a quick right onto Glendora Mountain Road and go 2.2 miles to the turnout at the side of the road.
  • Agency: City of Glendora/Angeles National Forest
  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Steepness, terrain, elevation gain)
  • Suggested time: 2 hours
  • Best season: October – May
  • USGS topo map: Glendora
  • Recommended gear: Hiking Poles; sunblock; sun hat
  • More information: Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 7

This little-known trail is short but unsparingly steep, like the nearby Garcia Trail.   While the Garcia Trail switchbacks however, this one climbs straight up the side of a ridge, almost entirely exposed.  There are several stretches where the ground is loose, requiring extra caution. The good news is that for your efforts you are rewarded with nice views of the eastern San Gabriels, an aerial perspective of Glendora Mountain Road and if the air is clear, the L.A. Basin.

0:00 = Beginning of the hike on Glendora Mountain Road
0:00 = Beginning of the hike on Glendora Mountain Road (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

From the side of Glendora Mountain Road, the trail wastes no time, ascending a steep fire break. After climbing almost 200 feet in just over 0.1 miles, you rejoin the road at a bend (an alternate starting point if you want a shorter hike.) Head left, turning away from the road and passing by an oak from which a swing hangs. Your climb continues, not quite as steeply but still steadily, alternating short spurts of elevation gain with welcome flat stretches.

0:06 - Second meeting with the road (times are approximate)
0:06 – Second meeting with the road (times are approximate)

At one flat stretch, about 0.7 miles up, a tree on the right side of the trail makes a nice place to rest. Remnants of a wooden tree-house can be seen on the ground.

0:07 - Swing on a tree, Upper Colby Trail
0:07 – Swing on a tree, Upper Colby Trail

Continuing, you begin your final ascent–the steepest–and at 1.1 miles, you reach an unnamed summit with a concrete foundation, perhaps a former lookout tower. Here you can sit and enjoy a nice view while resting your legs for the descent (which will probably take almost as long as going up.) This makes a good turnaround point, but you can continue down to Glendora Ridge Road and extend your hike there in either direction.

0:45 - Approaching  the final ascent
0:45 – Approaching the final ascent

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.

0:55 - Looking north from the top of the Upper Colby Trail
0:55 – Looking north from the top of the Upper Colby Trail
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4 comments

  1. I had been curious about this trail for a while, but didn’t know anyone who had been and couldn’t convince anyone to go with. I tried this trail this morning. Starting from the Colby trailhead at Loraine.
    This did have some steep and rocky sections, in fact the bottoms of my shoes were in shreds after finishing this hike, but it was a great hike. I only encountered one bow hunter on the way up and 3 bicyclists on the way down. Much less crowded than Garcia and just as much of a workout.
    I stretched out the walk by hiking towards Glendora Peak and adding a couple of miles to it. This was a great hike and one I plan on doing again soon.

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