Sunset Ridge Trail, Angeles National Forest, CA

El Prieto/Sunset Ridge/Altadena Crest Loop


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  • Location: Staging area on the north side of Loma Alta Drive at the intersection with Dabney St. From I-210, take the Lincoln Ave. exit and head north for 1.9 miles. Turn right on Loma Alta Drive and go 0.2 miles to the staging area on the north side of the road, across from Loma Alta Park.
  • Agency: Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy/County of Los Angeles/Angeles National Forest (Los Angeles River Ranger District)
  • Distance: 6.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
  • Suggested time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, distance)
  • Best season: October – June
  • Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles; insect repellent
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on the street portion of the hike; be careful on warm days and watch out for poison oak)
  • Cell phone reception: Fair at the trail head; weak for most of the route
  • Water: There’s usually water in Millard Canyon that can be filtered, but if you are doing this as a day hike, it may be easier to just bring your own water than carrying the extra weight of the filter
  • Restrooms: Vault toilets at the Millard Canyon Campground
  • Camping/backpacking: The route walks through Millard Canyon Campground. There are no spots on the route suitable for dispersed camping, although this can be an option for hikers who want a longer trip than what’s described below.
  • More information: May My Hike report here; descriptions of longer routes using both the El Prieto and Sunset Ridge Trails here and here
  • Rating: 6

Updated August 2018

Here’s a hike that explores a secluded canyon and also provides impressive mountain and city views. For those relatively new to hiking, it serves as an excellent introduction to the diverse landscape of the San Gabriel foothills, while its scenic variety and appreciable distance and elevation gain make it a good choice for veterans. Done clockwise, as described below, much of the ascents are shaded, so even on warm days it can be a viable choice, given an early start.

Going clockwise also allows you to get the 1.5 miles of pavement out of the way first. Head west on Loma Alta Drive, cross Lincoln, turn right and make an immediate left on Canyon Crest Road. Head uphill for 0.9 mile. The road is narrow with no sidewalk and no shoulder, so be careful, especially if you are with small children or dogs. At 0.9 mile, make a hard right to stay on Canyon Crest Road. Head uphill another 0.3 mile to Rising Hill Road and Cloverhill Road. Turn left on Cloverhill Road and follow it to its end at El Prieto Road. Turn right and head briefly uphill. Between the second and third houses on the right you will find a wide driveway with a metal fence at the end. This is the access point for the spur leading into El Preito Canyon. Be respectful of the homeowners as you make your way up the driveway and squeeze through a gap in the fence.

From here, the trail (listed as “The Meadows” on Google Maps) heads downhill into El Prieto Canyon, merging with the main trail in 0.2 mile. Bear right and head uphill through oak-shaded El Prieto Canyon. The canyon feels pleasantly secluded, especially considering how close it is to civilization. The trail winds in and out of the shade, reaching a picnic area about 0.7 mile from the gate (2.2 miles from the start). One of several use trails branches off to the left and heads uphill while the main route stays to the right.

At 2.4 miles you reach a well defined junction. Make a hard left (the right fork heads toward the top of Rising Hill Road) and continue your ascend, picking up another 200 feet in 0.4 mile before reaching the Brown Mountain Truck Trail. Bear right and follow the trail, which has been worn down to a single-track, through a shaded tributary of El Prieto Canyon, reaching another junction. Turn left onto the next leg of the Brown Mountain Truck Trail, which is mostly exposed. It heads downhill for about a mile, providing views of Pasadena and the Verdugo Mountains beyond before dropping into Millard Canyon.

As you pass through the Millard Canyon Campground, you can take an optional detour to Millard Canyon Falls. The Sunset Ridge Trail branches off to the left, making a pleasant 0.8 mile climb under shade with views of the canyon before reaching Mt. Lowe Road.

At the intersection, follow the paved road south for a short distance before picking up the unsigned Altadena Crest Trail on the right (4.6 miles from the start). The trail makes a steep and sometimes loose descent, crossing paved Cheney Trail and continuing downhill. At 5.9 miles from the start, you reach a junction. The left fork is more scenic and provides one last challenge, adding almost 100 additional feet of elevation gain to the route. Follow it uphill and then downhill back to your starting point on Loma Alta Drive.

El Prieto Canyon, San Gabriel Mountains
Spur leading into El Prieto Canyon
El Prieto Canyon, San Gabriel Mountains
Oaks in El Prieto Canyon
San Gabriel Foothills, Los Angeles
Top of the El Prieto Canyon Trail at the Brown Mountain Truck Trail
Brown Mountain Truck Trail, Angeles National Forest, CA
Heading east toward Millard Canyon on the Brown Mountain Truck Trail
Sunset Ridge Trail, San Gabriel Mountains
Start of the Sunset Ridge Trail
Sunset Ridge Trail, Angeles National Forest, CA
Looking across Millard Canyon on the Sunset Ridge Trail
Sunset Ridge Trail, Angeles National Forest
Oaks on the Sunset Ridge Trail
Altadena Crest Trail, San Gabriel Valley
Top end of the Altadena Crest Trail

Text and photography copyright 2018 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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