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.
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.
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.