Hike Organizer: Paul Kemp
Location: Angeles National Forest
Hike Difficulty: Moderate, 6/10 (not for beginners)
Distance: 8 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet (total)
Time: 5 hours
This is the third in a trilogy of hikes to prominent peaks in the western San Gabriel Mountains: Mount Wilson (5,713'), Mount Lowe (5,603'), and San Gabriel Peak (6161').
San Gabriel Peak towers high on the crest of the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains. From its 6161’ summit you find an unmatched, breathtaking 360-degree panoramic view of the San Gabriel Mountains in their full glory, all the way out to Mount Baldy in the east, and the vast sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles to the south.
Mount Disappointment, at 5,960 feet, was named "Disappointment" in 1894 when USGS surveyors sighted it from the Santa Susana Mountains, and believing it to be the highest point in the immediate area, decided to use it as their next triangulation point. When they reached the summit, however, they discovered that San Gabriel Peak half a mile to the east was 167 feet higher and so moved there instead. A Nike missile site was located there in 1955 and the summit was flattened to accommodate it. The missile site was abandoned in 1965; the mountain top is now an important telecommunications site for both commercial and government organizations.
Mount Lowe, at 5,603 feet elevation, stands on the southern fold of the San Gabriel Mountains. Originally named Oak Mountain, it was renamed for Professor Thaddeus Lowe, who is credited for being the first white man to set foot on and plant the American flag at its peak, and who built the Mount Lowe Railway in 1893. The Mount Lowe Railway was officially abandoned in 1938 after torrential rain washed most everything off the mountain sides. Today, the ruins of both the Mount Lowe Railway and Echo Mountain’s “White City” Resort remain as a monument to an over-ambitious enterprise. It was placed on the National Register of Historical Places on January 6, 1993.
HIKE DESCRIPTION: From Red Box parking area we will follow Mount Wilson Road for a third of a mile to the beginning of the Mount Disappointment fire road on the right hand side, from there picking up the San Gabriel Peak Trail. This trail switchbacks up, under a canopy of big-cone spruce and live oak, to a junction with the upper section of the Mount Disappointment fire road and on to the ridge top. From Mount Disappointment summit we take the trail to the Mount Disappointment-San Gabriel Peak saddle, then climb the west ridge of San Gabriel Peak to the second summit. Returning to the saddle we take the trail descending the west side of San Gabriel Peak to Markham Saddle, and from there around the slopes of Mount Markham to pick up the Mount Lowe east trail to Mount Lowe summit. We will stop for lunch either on San Gabriel Peak or Mount Lowe.
WHAT TO BRING: Make sure that you wear appropriate footwear, bring at least 2 liters of water, copious amounts of sweet snacks to munch along the way, and lunch. The temperature on the three summits may be on the cold side so bring something warm to wear when we stop for lunch.
DIRECTIONS TO TRAILHEAD: Drive up the Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) 14 miles from La Canada to Red Box parking area at the junction of Mount Wilson Road. A carpool meeting point in La Canada will be posted later in the week.