Mt. Lowe Trail Camp 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: 5.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
- Suggested time: 3 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG-13 (elevation gain, distance, trail condition)
- Best season: October – June
- USGS topo maps: Mt. Lowe
- Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles; insect repellent; long pants and long sleeved shirts
- More information: Trip description (similar route, adding the spur to Inspiration Point) here; Yelp reviews for the hike from Eaton Saddle to Inspiration Point here; Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 7
This loop visits the Mt. Lowe Trail Camp–once the site of Ye Olde Alpine Tavern, the last stop on the historic Mt. Lowe Railway–dropping in from above while offering panoramic city and mountain views. Short side trips to Inspiration Point and Mt. Lowe can easily be added.
The first 1.3 miles of this hike share the same route as the trip to Mt. Lowe; refer to that link for a more detailed description. From Eaton Saddle, follow the Mt. Lowe Fire Road through Mueller Tunnel. At 0.5 miles, you reach a saddle where you’ll bear left on the Mt. Lowe Trail. Follow it to a junction at 1.3 miles; this is the start of the loop portion of the hike. The loop can be done in either direction but if it’s a warm day, you might want to consider descending on the exposed south slope of Mt. Lowe and ascending via the cooler north and western slopes, as described here.
The Mt. Lowe East Trail descends along the south and east flanks of the mountain. Soon, you’ll get a good view of the San Gabriel Valley and the distant L.A. skyline. You’ll also notice Inspiration Point perched on the edge of a ridge to the south. At 2 miles, the trail begins a series of switchbacks, soon arriving at the Mt. Lowe fire road. Cross the dirt road and descend a short spur into the campground, 2.5 miles from the start. Here you can relax beneath the oaks, charging your batteries for the ascent ahead. Interpretive plaques describe the history of the railroad, including photos.
When you’re rested, return to the Mt. Lowe Fire Road and head west for a few yards, almost immediately picking up the Mt. Lowe West Trail. It ascends steadily, in and out of black oaks, passing a few locator tubes similar to those found at Inspiration Point. You’ll get a nice view down into Millard Canyon with the Verdugo Mountains distant. Even as you enjoy the vistas however, be aware of poodle dog bush, which grows abundantly on this stretch of the trail.
At 3.4 miles, you make a sharp right and get a view of Mt. Disappointment and San Gabriel Peak. The trail switchbacks up the north side of Mt. Lowe, at times a little loose and rocky but never too tough to follow. At 3.9 miles, you reach the short spur to Mt. Lowe, an optional side trip that’s worth doing if you haven’t been to that summit.
From here, the Mt. Lowe West Trail descends, returning to the junction at 4.1 miles. Retrace your steps northeast on the Mt. Lowe Trail and fire road back to Eaton Saddle.
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.