Echo Mountain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echo_Mountain) in Altadena will test your lungs in two ways. The 5.5 mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 1500' will get your lungs pumping like bellows, and after you rest by the ruins of the Mt. Lowe Railway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Lowe_Railway), you can test them again on the echo horn provided. (picture of random hiker trying it out)
At our stopping point you will be rewarded not only with a great view of the LA basin, but you will also get to see the ruins of the resort hotel that once stood here and which was served by the railway.
This is not a beginner's hike and let's also leave the dogs home for this one. The hike itself is on a well-maintained, heavily traveled trail. It begins on the grounds of the Cobb Estate and follows a series of switchbacks that feel as if they are infinitely long, but eventually you do reach our destination.
When I first did this hike, I was guided by one of our members, RPG (http://www.meetup.com/The-PM-Hikers/members/51295212/), who is an accomplished hiker, and the pictures you see here were taken on that hike.
Known dangers include the ubiquitous rattlesnakes that live in this area, and some drop-offs, but if you stay on the trail, you should be just fine. By attending this hike you accept responsibility for your own safety (or lack thereof) and will hold no one else at fault.
Given the length and difficulty of this hike, be sure to bring plenty of water (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:3Falls_Niagara.jpg) (2L is a good amount), perhaps some snacks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PorkSkins_saltadded.JPG) to fuel your descent, and while we will likely be back to the vehicles before dark, I would recommend bringing a flashlight (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ed_d21m.jpg). If you have northern European skin like mine, you should also bring some sunscreen (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d9/Sunburnt_woman.jpeg).
When RPG (http://www.meetup.com/The-PM-Hikers/members/51295212/) and I did this hike, we only stopped at the Echo Mountain ruins to rest, and we pressed on to Inspiration Point (https://plus.google.com/116080279595386698588/about?gl=us&hl=en), which turns the hike into a significantly longer, higher one and we ran out of sunlight. We were using our cell phones to light the trail for about the last half mile! We won't go to Inspiration Point on this hike, but be sure to bring a flashlight just to be on the safe side.
Directions: Take the 210 into Pasadena and get off on the Lake Ave exit. Take Lake north until it reaches the gate of the Cobb Estate, where you hit a 90-degree turn onto E. Alta Loma Drive. You should be able to locate ample free parking (http://www.flickr.com/photos/43129488@N02/3993147432/) along Loma Alta or its tributary side streets. We'll meet by the Cobb Estate entrance gate.
Post-Hike Hangout: For those of you interested, Kim has found a great place that we could go to after the hike. HERE (http://www.congregationalehouse.com/) is their website (which is beyond awesome, by the way) and HERE (https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=300+South+Raymond+Avenue,+Pasadena,+CA&aq=1&oq=300+S+Raymond+Ave,+Pasadena&sll=34.265748,-118.730465&sspn=0.181022,0.291824&vpsrc=0&t=m&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=300+S+Raymond+Ave,+Pasadena,+California+91105&ll=34.140793,-118.148711&spn=0.011331,0.018239&z=16&iwloc=A) is their location.