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Mt. Lewis, Angeles National Forest, CA

Looking northwest toward the high desert from Mt. Lewis

View of Mt. Baden-Powell from Mt. Lewis, Angeles National Forest

Mt. Baden-Powell as seen from below Mt. Lewis

Mt. Lewis

  • Location: Dawson Gap, Angeles National Forest. From I-210 in La Canada, take the Angeles Crest Highway (route 2) northeast for 45 miles to Dawson Gap. Park on the north side of the road, at a turnout near mile marker 69.6. From I-15, head west on Highway 138 for 8.6 miles. Turn left on the Angeles Crest Highway and drive 19.2 miles to Dawson Gap. 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 mile
  • Elevation gain: 500 feet
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty rating: PG
  • Best season:  May – October (road closed during the rest of the year)
  • USGS topo map: Crystal Lake
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles; insect repellent
  • More information: Trip descriptions here and here (including other summits); Summitpost page here
  • Rating: 6

The short but very steep hike to Mt. Lewis (elevation 8,396) is a popular side trip for hikers visiting the high country of the Angeles National Forest. An obvious choice is to combine it with Throop Peak, a hike that also starts from Dawson Gap.

Dawson Saddle, Angeles National Forest, CA

0:00 – Start of the hike along Angeles Crest Highway from Dawson Saddle (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

From the parking area on the north side of the Angeles Crest Highway, head west for a few dozen yards along the roadside, to a maintenance shed. The unsigned but obvious use trail heads steeply uphill between some short metal poles. Grind your way uphill on the loose terrain (easier said than done at 8,000 feet elevation with virtually no acclimatization). About a quarter mile from the start, the trail nears the top of the ridge and the grade eases up slightly. The trail splits but both forks soon reconvene. (On the way up, the route on the right appears to be the more obvious one; descending, it’s also the route on the right). By this point, if the trail isn’t obvious, you’re close enough to the summit that it’s easy to find even should you lose the trail; when in doubt, keep going up.

Use trail to Mt. Lewis, Angeles National Forest

0:13 “Junction” near the top of the ridge (times are approximate)

At 0.4 miles, you reach the south edge of Mt. Lewis’s elongated summit. Pines and cedars block most of the view, but between them you can get glimpses of the high desert to the north, Mt. Baden-Powell to the southeast and Throop Peak to the south. The trees also provide a buffer from high winds that often blow through the Angeles back country, making this a particularly serene spot.

After resting your legs for the steep descent, retrace your steps downhill back to Dawson Gap, which will be visible for most of the return. In case you were wondering, Mt. Lewis was named for Washington Lewis, former Yosemite superintendent. A taller Mt. Lewis can be found outside of Yosemite.

Mt. Lewis, Angeles National Forest, CA

0:21 – Jeffrey pines on the top of Mt. Lewis

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.
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