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Mount Lowe via Sunset Ridge Trail









Hike Organizer: Paul Kemp

Location: Angeles National Forest

Hike Difficulty: Strenuous, 7/10 (not for beginners)

Distance: 13 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: 3500 feet

Time: 6-7 hours

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.

This trip climbs the Sunset Ridge Trail, above Millard Canyon, to the old Mount Lowe Scenic Railway bed past the Cape of Good Hope. It then follows the railway bed, now the Sunset Ridge-Mount Lowe fire road, up to the Mount Lowe Tavern site, currently Mount Lowe Trail Camp, and then on to Mount Lowe summit via Mount Lowe Trail West. The old railway bed is gently graded and offers a splendid panoramic view over mountain, canyon, and lowland Los Angeles.

After lunch on Mount Lowe summit the return trip to Altadena takes in Inspiration Point, and then Echo Mountain via the Castle Canyon Trail. The Echo Mountain Trail returns to the Cape of Good Hope for the final leg of the hike back to the trailhead via Mount Lowe Road.

This is a strenuous hike NOT for beginners - 13 miles is a long way if you haven't been hiking for a while, or you have only been hiking short distances from your couch to the refrigerator! Make sure that you wear appropriate footwear, bring at least 3 liters of water, copious amounts of sweet snacks to munch along the way, and lunch. The temperature on Mount Lowe will probably be on the cold side so bring something warm to wear when we stop on the summit.

DIRECTIONS TO TRAILHEAD: From the 210 Freeway in Pasadena take the Lake Avenue exit and drive north to its end at Loma Alta Drive in Altadena. Turn left on Loma Alta Drive and take this across Fair Oaks Av. to Chaney Trail Drive, turn right and drive up to the junction at the top of the ridge. Make a right and park outside the locked gate at the entrance to Sunset Ridge fire road (Mount Lowe Road); do not continue downhill as this will take you to Millard Canyon parking lot.



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  • Paul

    Thanks all for sharing a great hike, well done Susan and Shine for joining the rest of the group on Mount Lowe!

    February 18, 2014

  • Shine

    Thanks to Paul & all hiking fellows, looking to see you all on next hike :-)

    February 18, 2014

  • rosa

    Thanks Paul, ir was a great hike.

    February 17, 2014

  • Berg

    Good workout loop; thank you all for making it a fun hike. Special thanks to Paul for leading the hike and exclusive thanks to BILL for the awesome sweeping job (Hmm?). :-D

    February 17, 2014

  • Matt P.

    Good longish day hike and cool people, but the (lack of) views was disappointing with the thick haze...

    February 16, 2014

  • Wanli Timothy Z.

    Had a great time! Thanks, Paul, for the organizing and, fellow hikers, for the fun company!

    Had a blast!

    February 15, 2014

  • Bita Enayati A.

    Sounds like we will have lots of time for reflection on the mountains. Wish I could go...

    February 12, 2014

  • Amanda S.

    This still remains one of my favorite hikes!! Dammet gonna be with family. :(

    1 · February 12, 2014

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