|View of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean at sunset from San Gabriel Peak|
Access: Paved road to trailhead, $30 annual or $5 one-day Adventure Pass required. Mount Wilson Road is narrow and winding and maybe not recommended for trailers and RVs.
The San Gabriel Range rises abruptly from the plains of the Los Angeles Basin, quickly transitioning from sea level to over 10,000 feet at Mount Baldy. This vertical relief makes the San Gabriels a particularly dramatic mountain range. One of the greatest viewpoints of the range is also easily accessible: it's only a short hike of less than 2 miles each way to the summit of San Gabriel Peak from the Mount Wilson Road. San Gabriel Peak is the second highest point in the front range of the San Gabriel Range and offers a sweeping view of the range along with the entire Los Angeles metropolis and the Pacific Ocean. This hike fits the bill for anyone seeking maximum views for just a slight challenge. The hike described here visits not just San Gabriel Peak, but also neighboring Mount Disappointment, which adds just an extra half mile round trip but provides a slightly different view.
I hiked this trail on a November day, just a little while after some storms had dusted the higher peaks around Los Angeles with snow. I drove to the trailhead from West Los Angeles, taking I-10 east to downtown, then skirting to the west of downtown on Route 110 north, connecting to I-5 north, then taking Route 2 north towards Glendale and La Canada Flintridge. After passing the Verdugos, I merged onto I-210 east from Route 2 and then left on the first exit on I-210 for Route 2 heading north at La Canada Flintridge. Coming out, I turned left and headed north on the Angeles Crest Highway. I followed the windy mountain road uphill to the junction with the Angeles Forest Highway; here I stayed to the right and continued onward to the junction with the Mount Wilson Road at Red Box Gap. I turned right and followed the Mount Wilson Road uphill to the trailhead at Eaton Saddle, where there was parking on both sides of the road.
I put up my parking pass and then started hiking down the gated Mount Lowe Road, which headed off to the west (off to the right side of Mount Wilson Road). The road cut across the open slopes of San Gabriel Peak, offering immediate views of rocky Mount Markham and the endless grid of the Los Angeles suburbs near Pasadena. The trail itself- having been a former road- was quite wide and still in decent shape, which made for easy hiking with just a slight elevation gain.
|View of the city from Mount Lowe Road|
|San Gabriel Peak Trail|
In a way, the summit of Mount Disappointment lives down to its name. Disappointment is not a wilderness peak: it's a mountain capped with numerous communications towers, with many views obscured by a fence protecting the towers at the true summit. However, the views are still quite good, and by walking around the fenced-off towers, I was able to piece together a 360-degree view of the area. The most notable section of the view was to the west: There was a direct view down to Red Box Gap and out to Strawberry Peak, the tallest peak in the front range of the San Gabriels. This part of the view wasn't visible from San Gabriel Peak, since from that angle it's blocked by Mount Disappointment.
|Strawberry Peak and the Front Range from Mount Disappointment|
|San Gabriel Peak from Mount Disappointment|
|Succulents along the way to San Gabriel Peak|
|Mount Wilson Observatory from San Gabriel Peak|
|The San Gabriels from San Gabriel Peak|
|Sunset on the Pacific Ocean|
|Dusk on the San Fernando Valley|