Description: Professor Thaddeus Lowe civil war balloonist, man of fame and fortune, was a dreamer. His dream was to build a railway into, and a resort complex atop, the San Gabriel Mountains high above Pasadena. In the 1890's, his dream became reality. During the height of its popularity, millions took Professor Lowe's Railway to the Clouds to fine hotels and spectacular views of Southern California. Until it was abandoned in the 1930's, it was Southern California's most popular tourist attraction. The line consisted of three stages, of which very little remains today. Passengers rode the trolley from Altadena to lower Rubio Canyon, and then boarded a steeply inclined cable railway that took them 1300 feet higher to Echo Mountain. Here there were two hotels, a number of small tourist attractions and an observatory.
At Echo Mountain, non-acrophobic passengers boarded the third phase, a mountain trolley that climbed another 1200 vertical feet along the airy slopes to the end of the line at the Ye Alpine Tavern. We will then follow the never finished portion of the trail to Inspiration Point, where sighting tubes from the era, still in place, helped visitors spot local landmarks.
The Hike: The hike has about a total gain of roughly 2500 feet. The length of the entire hike is around 11 miles The views of the LA Basin go on forever from this vantage point. However, after the fires some surrounding areas were burned. When we get to Granite Gate you'll be able to see the damage to the west, Brown Mountain area. The first portion of the trail, until we reach the Echo Summit Hotel, is fairly well used by hikers. It is also very steep for the first 2.5 miles. When we get to Echo Mt. we'll do the "tourist thing" & travel along to each of the "stations". When we get to Ye Alpine Tavern "Station 9" we'll have lunch & then start our downhill trek to Inspiration Point. From here we'll take the Castle Canyon Trail back to the cars.
Directions: From OC, take the 57 north to 210 West to Lake Street in Pasadena. Head north until the road ends at a sharp left turn (do not make the left turn, stop here). Park along the road and meet at the stone pillars. We can make carpool arrangement at a later date. Please bring at least 1 or 2 liters of water, a snack, lunch & depending on the weather, a hat.