Hoyt Mountain (Southwest Approach)
- Location: Southwestern San Gabriel mountains. From La Canada, take the Angeles Crest Highway northeast for 6.2 miles and park in large turnout on the left side of the road. If you are coming from the north, the turnout will be on the right, 3.2 miles southwest of Clear Creek Junction.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest/Los Angeles River Ranger District
- Distance: 4.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,400 feet
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG-13 (Steepness, elevation gain, terrain)
- Best season: October – May
- Dogs: Allowed but exercise caution depending on conditions; some of the rocky and loose terrain may be difficult
- Cell phone reception: Weak
- Restrooms: None
- Water: None
- Camping/backpacking: The summit and the saddle below it are both options for camping
- Recommended gear: sun hat hiking poles long pants
- More information: Summit Post page here; Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 7
Many hikers drive right past Hoyt Mountain without being aware of it, but despite not being heavily represented online or in guidebooks, this peak does have its loyal fans. While Hoyt doesn’t offer the same sense of isolation as the high country of the San Gabriels, it’s still a challenging and enjoyable hike. A steep scramble to the top combined with panoramic views in all directions gives Hoyt an adventurous feel, especially for a peak located so close to suburbia. This post describes the approach from the southwest; Hoyt can also be reached via the short but steep east ridge.
From the turnout, follow Hoyt Mountain Road steadily uphill. Some hikers may be turned off by the multitude of power lines and the noise of cars on the Angeles Crest Highway, but the views of the L.A. Basin to the south get better and better as you climb. At 0.7 mile, you reach a short spur leading to a view point (designated as JW-1 on Google Maps). Just after, stay right at a junction (the left fork heads west to Clemans Junction, where the Dark Canyon and Grizzly Flats trails meet.)
You continue climbing trail that feels more and more like a single track than the fire road of below. Soon, Hoyt Mountain and two bumps to the west come into view. At 1.9 miles, you reach a saddle. Here, the Telephone Trail begins its descent to Clear Creek. To reach Hoyt Mountain, look for a faint use trail heading straight up the ridge to the east, crossing under two power lines.
Now the work begins as you climb over 300 feet in the next 0.2 mile, dodging yuccas, often across loose terrain and close to the edge of the ridge. (The drop-offs on the south side, on the right, are less intimidating than on the north side). After reaching a false summit, the grade becomes less severe. Continue up to a second bump, then drop briefly to a saddle and make your way up to the real summit.
The top of Hoyt Mountain is wide and flat, with several jumbles of boulders that make for good spots to sit and enjoy the view. Peaks visible include Josephine Peak, Strawberry Peak, Mt. Lukens and many more. You may be able to see as far as the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the ocean, the Santa Monica Mountains and the Santa Susanas. Also impressive are the views below: Big Tujunga Canyon to the north and the twisting course of the Angeles Crest Highway to the south. The bare summit is typical of the lower peaks in the western Angeles: mostly desert but with a few Coulter pines on the north slope just below the top, supported by the cooler temperatures of this altitude (4,404 feet). While enjoying the view, rest your legs for the steep descent back to the trail head. If you have set up a shuttle at George’s Gap, you can continue east down the steep ridge.
Photo gallery (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)
Text and photography copyright 2017 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.