Explore HST Training - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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It’s called Windy Gap for a reason! Super windy and chilly at the top, but such a nice view at the top. The trail head starts inside Crystal Lake Campground and you need a parking pass. We hiked to the top of windy gap then to Little Jimmy Campground for lunch, it was wonderful.

17 days ago

Clear trail to follow. Pretty flat mellow hike. Some shade. Arrive early if you like less traffic on trail. Several mountain bikes and trail runners. First time here so I’m not sure how it was before the fires. This was still a very scenic hike and will only get better as the area recovers.
MASH set survived.

17 days ago

This area was so much fun to hike! Although the recent fires have torched a lot of the greenery, there were lots of great spots for rock climbing and going off of the main trails, a nice river and cool rock formations. I’m a new hiker with an athletic background and this Trail was generally easy :) Lots it open space, I imagine it gets pretty hot during the summer. I got here around 8 am and left around 12 pm.

So sad that this beautiful place was ravaged by wildfire, but it is still beautiful and interesting. We saw lots of birds of prey and a coyote. We hiked just the loop with 5 kids ages 8-16, and they did great! Only one slightly steep section, the rest was a lovely meander. Bright green new growth makes one section look like Hobbiton. The rest is a bit Desolation of Smaug...

24 days ago

We hiked from the nature center to the radio towers. The route is a dirt road and is uphill all the way up the towers. It’s a good workout all the way up with a cool chair offering a resting point. There’s also a few other routes you can take along the way up in case you don’t want to go all the way up to the towers. The views of Burbank and DTLA are great!

As everyone has already said, it's closer to 11 miles. Took the loop counterclockwise and found I had some decent protection from the sun on the way up (left the trailhead at 9AM in the winter) the other half of the loop has a lot of rock walls and high brush so even at noon I wasn't in the sun a lot.

Really expansive view of the Southland from the top. Well maintained, easy to follow, quiet.

1 month ago

Have been doing this hike a lot and I love it. You can make it a loop if you park more towards the bottom and walk up the road to the trail entrance. Very nice views of Burbank and the Valley when you get up top. If you’re feeling extra adventurous you can split off to the Vital Link trail. At the times I have gone usually late in the day there are very few people on the trail so you can get away from humanity for a bit. Love it!

this was a surprise I didn't expect to see the panoramic views that you find two and a half miles up we didn't have any traffic we were all by ourselves and it was as peaceful as could be and the views were spectacular you could see Catalina from end-to-end and you could see San Clemente unbelievable

AWESOME Hike - Trail Info Incorrect

This hike is mislabeled - this isn't Windy Gap to Big Cienega. Technically, it's Crystal Lake Campground to Big Cienega Trail to Mt. Islip Trail to Windy Gap Trail (and back to Crystal Lake Campground).

You start at the parking lot at Crystal Lake Campground, hike up to Windy Gap (a small break in the mountains where the wind howls through before you choose another of several trails to branch off onto). Someone has also uploaded photos of the old stone hut, but this circuit doesn't take you to it - you have to take a side hike to Mount Islip to see that (.4 miles one way, according to the AllTrails map).

We did this hike the second weekend in December, starting around 11:30 am, after a few days of snow in the higher elevations. It was incredible. On the way up, it was snow covered chaparral that someone had already broken trail on, with the sun shining down on us the entire way up to Windy Gap. The trail was pretty mushy in the exposed areas with patches of ice and powder where the trees and ridges blocked the sun. Good amounts of tree cover, alternating with lots of open sun. Nothing in the beginning of the hike is too steep - moderate is a pretty accurate description for the grade most of the way up.

We took the side hike to Mt. Islip, where there's a cool old stone hut and an amazing 360º view. We could see all the way to Catalina, which was amazing, despite the smog. The snowy mountains on two sides made a pretty amazing backdrop for lunch at the summit (though there are 4 ugly stone foundation blocks that the forest service should get rid of).

The leg up to Mt. Islip is on the shadow side of the mountain - darker, cooler, with deeper, densely packed snow. No dramatic drop-offs or anything too scary, even with all the snow.

Because of the recent snowfall, the trail was like something out of a movie: dead quiet, sunny, pure blue skies, breeze blowing through the pines, succulents and cacti poking up through the snow, and almost no other hikers in sight (we only passed one person heading in our direction and maybe 3, total, heading down). We're in our 30s/40s and in decent shape, but not champion mountaineers by any stretch, and from the parking lot to the stone hut it tooks us between 3.5 and 4 hours (4.2 miles according to AllTrails) at an easy pace with plenty of stops (plus the snow slowed us down considerably).

If you follow our map it takes you from the parking lot to the stone hut. 8.4 miles with 2,418 ft. of elevation gain.

One of my new favorite hikes in Southern California because of how incredible it looked in the snow. And quiet enough to hear a pin drop!

PS - you can't access the lot from the 2 freeway in winter, the gate is closed, so the only access is to come up from Azusa, so be aware of that.

Well maintained trail ,be ready to hike 4 miles to see few but awesome Joshua trees

this was a fun hike a lot of different trails and they go down on all sides of the mountain we saw a lot of people and everybody was really friendly we will definitely be coming back again

Beautiful hike. I camped there while there was snow and it was an unforgettable experience. I highly recommend this spot to anyone who is looking to get away from city lights and sounds.

this is a pretty easy hike but if you take the vital link Trail off of it it gets tough in a hurry

2 months ago

We did this 11-3-18 and although it took about 2.5 hours from Fresno, the weather was gorgeous. The fishing however was horrible with not a single bite. The last mile or so of the trail was tough but still gorgeous. Rock lake looks really close on the map but it ends up being down this huge hill that you eventually have to come back up.....we left too late to do it but hopefully next time. :)

mountain biking
2 months ago

best trail in southern california hands down !

Beautiful trail. Moderate workout. Try hiking this one in March when it’s green and beautiful everywhere. Waterfalls in the canyon are a plus! Hit up KRV Brewing Co. for a treat after. No water available. Watch out for occasional dirt bikers.

2 months ago

What a great hike that has all kinds of layers and adventures to it. I did the lower east loop that goes through a bunch of epic rock formations (great for rocking climbers), the former set of hit TV show M.A.S.H, and ends with the rock pool where people gather to swim and jump off mini cliffs in the wilderness. I could only imagine how this park looks when there is actually water in the Malibu creek, it was all dried up pretty much when I went except for the rock pool area.

Most of the trail is wide and flat for the most part making it very doable yet still a great workout since it's about 6-7 miles long (roundtrip).

- @justroc @just.trek

We intended to hike on the Half Knob Trail but we could not find the trail. As a result, we ended up hiking on the Windy Gap Trail which was very well marked and maintained. Great views. We followed the trail only to the Mt. Hopkins Overlook Rd.

This was a fantastic hike. A bit of endurance needed. My Fitbit said 11.4 miles so don’t worry once you pass the 9.8 AllTrails states.

Not a lot of people were around during my hike. I saw maybe 4-5 people and a few bike riders.

Definitely worth doing. Especially since Mt Lukens is apparently the highest peak in LA city limits.

Fun overnighter camping out with the Cougars..

3 months ago

Beautiful lake. Did an overnight trip with my daughter. Temperature at the lake felt about 10 degrees cooler than on the trail. Probably due to the wind gusts. Ended up camping about a 1/2 mile from the lake. Fishing was great as well.

As a visitor from Texas I would rate this higher than moderate but I’m not used to hiking mountains either. The other hikers are super friendly and my dog loved it as much as me. Great place to hike!

just loved it! was perfect for walk and jog and sights were wonderful to see!

3 months ago

Great fishing at cliff lake and and an equally rewarding hike to nearby Rock lake

Do not attempt the drive to trail head unless you at least have a high clearance vehicle. And if it rains, you had better have four wheel drive. I drove in my Ford Edge and barely made it. Spun my wheels and scraped car under carriage a few times. But the destination was well worth the worrisome journey. Absolutely beautiful. There really are no mosquitoes at this time of year and no bear activity which really adds to the enjoyment. Very high altitudes though. Take it slow especially if you are a sea level dweller like me!

I will be back, but in a truck!!

BTW I have a tried and true formula for mosquito repellent. Mix vapor rub (menthol) with coconut oil. Three weeks in Fiji with hummingbird size mosquitoes and I didn’t get bitten once!

*butt kicker
*super windy, hence the name

3 months ago

My son and I decided to do this hike. we are amateur hikers, but decided to give it a go. we started at the Crystal Lake CG around 900. First mile or so of the trail is nice and shady. incline isnt too bad at the start. 2nd half of the trail is a bit steeper and mostly in the sun. Trail was in great shape. one or two spots were covered in rocks from a prior slide, but still manageable. We stopped to get a breath and enjoy the views pretty often. Windy Gap definitely lives up to its name, as it was Windy. We went through about 1.5L of water each, so we stopped at the springs and used our Little Sawyers to refill. From there we went up to Islip .8 miles at the gap to enjoy lunch with a view. After enjoying the view we headed down to the trail camp and back to the springs to top off before the decent. The decent wasn't bad, easier then going up. Got back to our car around 430. My phone said the hike was around 8.6 miles round trip and almost 2,800 feet in elevation gain. it was fun and I will do this one again, as the views are awesome.

3 months ago

Beautiful easy hike. Loved the MASH set.

We hike from the nature center up to the last tower at the summit and then turn back down, so we do an out-and-back approach. Mostly because we couldn’t figure out the loop - haha. But it’s a solid nine miles with significant elevation gain and great views.

4 months ago

Gorgeous hike, beautiful lakes. Mosquitos are out of control. It was hard to enjoy anything while being swarmed constantly. First night at stayed at first dinkey lake, with an amazing view of the lake and meadows. We hiked up to higher elevation and stayed at rainbow lake the second night, which was significantly better, mosquito - wise. We were all covered in DEET, and used citronella incense, as well as natural repellant, to no avail. I'd love to come back some day when the mosquito population isn't as crazy. Great trail for beginners and kids, otherwise.

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