- Location: Angeles National Forest. From I-210 in La Canada, take Highway 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) northeast for 36.5 miles to the Vista Day Use Area, shortly past the Buckhorn Campground at mile marker 60.54. 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: 1.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 700 feet
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: May – October
- USGS topo map: Waterman Mountain
- Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles; insect repellent
- More information: Trip descriptions here, here and here; Yelp page here; Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 7
This short but interesting and challenging hike explores the highest point on Kratka Ridge, providing a panoramic view similar to that of nearby Mt. Waterman. Like Mt. Waterman, Kratka Ridge is a former skiing destination; closed since a fire in December 2001 destroyed the lower base of the chair lift. The abandoned ski lift adds to the intrigue of the hike. No official trails lead to the summit but route following is fairly easy.
As of this writing, the Cabin Fire is burning in San Gabriel Canyon. While Kratka Ridge has not yet been affected, it is always good to be aware of fire conditions before hiking. Click here for updates.
From the parking area, follow a fairly clear trail past an information board, trash can and outhouse. Make a hairpin left turn, climb a few steps and arrive at a bench with good views to the south. From here, turn right (west) and climb a steep path that is sometimes faint but usually pretty clear, perhaps making your way over a few fallen trees. At 0.25 miles you reach a bench where you can get a good view of the Angeles Crest Highway below.
Turn left and head southwest, climbing straight up the ridge, quickly gaining one hundred feet. The trail bends to the right and the grade becomes more moderate, following one of the old ski trails. At 0.5 miles, you reach another bench with views to the south, including the old Highway 39 roadbed. Here, bear right and continue to follow the ridge uphill, passing the top of the ski lift.
Past the ski lift, the trail becomes a faint single-track. After making one last hairpin left turn, a short ascent brings you to the summit. A few rocks and logs make for nice places to sit and enjoy the views to the south, east and west. Return via the same route, exercising caution on the steep parts of the descent.
Text and photography copyright 2015 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.
Difficulty PG Distance 0 to 2 miles Dogs allowed Rating: 7-8 San Gabriel Mountains Season: Summer Fitness hiking hiking Angeles National Forest hiking Kratka Ridge hiking San Gabriel Mountains Mt. Waterman nature Outdoor southern california sports Vista Picnic Area