La Canada Crosstown Trail Loop
- Location: El Vago St., La Canada Flintridge. From I-210, take the Highway 2/Angeles Crest Highway exit. Go north (turn right if you’re coming from Pasadena, left if from the west) for 0.8 mile to Lavender Lane. Turn left and go 0.2 mile to La Canada Blvd. Turn right and go 0.3 mile to El Vago. Turn left and follow El Vago 0.2 mile to an intersection with the Cross Town Trail on the right, just before Indian Drive.
- Agency: City of La Canada Flintridge/L.A. County
- Distance: 3.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 900 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: October – June
- USGS topo map: Pasadena
- Recommended gear: hiking poles
- More information: La Canada Trails Council page here; Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 5
La Canada Flintridge’s Cross Town Trail winds through the hills above town, steeply ascending and descending the southeastern most slope of Mt. Lukens. As of May 2016, the easternmost mile of the trail is overgrown and likely enjoyable only for those who have a high tolerance for bushwhacking, so this post focuses on the rest of the route. The 2+ miles described here are suffering from soil erosion in multiple spots, so use caution. By walking on city streets, it is possible to make a loop out of the trail. This hike doesn’t have the dramatic views of trip to the famous La Canada Teepee, but for those looking for a quick and conveniently located workout, it’s a good one to keep in mind. For a suburban hike, it often feels surprisingly rugged and offers nice views of the Crescenta Valley.
This post describes a clockwise route starting with the residential streets. There are no sidewalks, so plan accordingly. Start by heading east on El Vago St., retracing your route driving in. In 0.2 mile, turn right on La Canada Blvd, follow it 0.1 mile and turn left on Vista Del Valle. Follow it to Glenola Park and out onto Angeles Crest Highway. Turn left and walk cautiously along the side of Angeles Crest Highway a short distance to Harter Lane, 0.8 mile from the start. Turn left and climb up the steep residential street, 0.3 miles to its ending.
Before you is a Y-junction. For the route to the tee pee, I recommended the quicker left route (paved) but for this hike, to add a touch more nature, head right and follow the dirt road over a bridge into a canyon with thickly growing black mustard and a few large oaks providing shade. Soon you reach a hairpin left turn (actually the junction with the eastern segment of the trail, which has been all but overtaken by nature). Begin the climb up the hillside, rejoining the other trail segment from the end of Harter Lane 1.5 miles from the start. After climbing almost 500 feet in about 0.6 mile, you reach a junction with the even steeper trail leading up to the tee pee some 800 feet above.
Here, the Cross Town Trail begins its steep descent, winding in and around the folds of the slope just as it did on the climb. The views before you include the Verdugo Mountains, downtown Los Angeles, the Hollywood Hills and more if visibility is good. At 2.8 miles you pass by a few power line structures before making a sharp right, heading briefly back into another canyon. Here, more so than on any other point of the hike, you finally escape traffic noise at least for the moment as you stroll through the oak-lined hills. After passing a water treatment plant, the trail crosses Donna Maria Lane (3.2 miles), passes the backs of some houses and makes one last short but steep climb to another power line. Then it drops sharply down the slope, making a few tight switchbacks, dipping into a grove of black walnut trees and finally returning to the starting point on El Vago Street.
Text and photography copyright 2016 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.