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.