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Pretty easy hike, some high stepping
No water at the waterfall but saw 8-10 Big Horn Sheep!!! Went dec 9, 2018

Today I accessed the trailhead from Big Dalton Canyon Rd. and followed it up just past the Punk Out junction... my first attempt at this hard trail.

As the trail begins, patches of fall color appear accentuated by the soft sounds of a meandering creek… a very pleasant start to cool and cloudy morning. The top of Potato Mountain (3414 ft.) is my destination. It's one of the smaller peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains and it's certainly dwarfed by its snowcapped big brothers. Nevertheless the trail is wide and steady. Following the tradition of my fellow hikers, I leave a commemorative potato on top of the concrete water tank. But before descending back down the trail, I survey the horizon with my eyes and to the west appears the unmistakable LA skyline. And this is quite a hiking treat as the city is over 40 miles away!

Great beautiful trail.

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.

Great hike! It's one that you can fit in when you only have part of a day. I'd say the rating is a bit overstated, it's mostly all at an incline going up, but the path is wide and you can take your time if need be. Views at the top are great, the entire San Gabriel Valley area is on one side, and the San Gabriel mountains on the other.

10 days ago

My favorite trail in the Whittier area by far! You start off at Sycamore trailhead & can either ramp it up & hang a right up the switchback or continue into magical Dark Canyon.

FYI, for those saying there’s dog poop everywhere, it’s actually coyote scat for the most part because this area is busy with wildlife activity. This year alone we’ve encountered 3 rattle snakes, 1 gofer snake, numerous deer/rabbits/squirrels.

12 days ago

Mu husband and I completed this hike with our friend Alex on November 24. The parking lot was easy to find, but we had difficulty finding the trail. On the map it looks to literally go straight up the mountain, so we took the side trail (the dotted trail labeled "Eagle Scout Trail" on the app).

Even though this trail was less direct, it was still plenty steep. In fact most of this trail was steep, with many uphills and downhills. Great workout! The endpoint was anti-climatic. The trail does have good views, and you can see multiple freeways from the peaks.

We didn't see hardly anyone else on the trail. There was some trash though. Pack it out, people!

We'd recommend this hike for anyone looking to get a decent workout!

Shady. Well maintained. Really pleasant trek.

The redwood grove is a nice area to walk around and relax.

Awesome and scenic trail! We have done this numerous times. If your lucky you will see an amazing waterfall!!!

Went today with my little foo foo dog and had a blast. The trail was well defined and lightly trafficked. Definitely was out of breath when I got to the top.

Beautiful scenery and one giant beautiful tree just as you enter the trail. Jogger stroller friendly with a few small hills. Great for beginners. Just watch out for the dog poop.

Fun little hike. Good 1.5-2 hour workout. First half has some nice scenery, second half is mostly scrub brush.

22 days ago

Not terrible, but there are nicer trails. not much to see, and really smelly in a couple of spots. I heard young coyote pups calling to each other and start going nuts when I was going up the switchbacks. I was already having anxiety due to heights, so hearing that made me turn back before I reached the tip top. Damn nerves. Good cardio, I would do it again with trekking poles or walking stick to help me feel secure getting to the top.

I thought this was a beautiful hike lots of photo ops and beautiful spots. It was easy for the most part with a couple inclines for good measure.

It’s a park

Fun for the family

Not really out in the wilderness but decent for city “hiking”.

We started our hike at 5:30am when it was still dark. We hiked about two hours. It’s pretty cold this time of year so bring a jacket. We saw some people take a strenuous route but I don’t know where they started from. If you keep to the left you will make it to the top.

27 days ago

Hiked this trail for the first time this morning and it was great. Parking was a little thin by 8:30am on a Sunday but not completely full. Beautiful scenery and plenty of birdwatching to be done throughout this hike, especially near the trailhead. The trail was in good shape most of the way. It became a little more sketchy after the turn toward the summit (away from Claremont Wilderness Park). The sun kept us plenty warm, even in mid-November! Enjoy!

Easy. Nice. But easy to get lost too. We somehow turned it into a 15 miler....in the dark.

This hike is pretty easy compared to its rating. I did it at night, while recovering from a cold. Going uphill sick wasn’t a joy, but the views are worth it! Most of the trail is well maintained with little rock issues. Once you get to the last half a mile it becomes lose, but still walkable. If you are looking to work on your cardio or sweat out a cold, this is a good hike. I didn’t see “shortcuts,” but from the map, they look similar to the path. The part that would make this rated hard would be the uphill motion, but it’s not difficult. It just pumps your heart. This is good practice for anyone looking to strengthen their heart.

1 month ago

Nice rolling walk at the bottom of canyon, quiet with not much use. If you climb the switchback trail you will get a real cardio vascular workout.

Love this trail! It’s so beautiful, lots of scenery. My 5 year old son hiked it and he loved every second!

the redwood grove is quite nice. very flat and easy. very kid friendly

Would not categorize this as a hike, but a great morning stroll! Busy and easy. Park by the church, it's free.

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.

on Colby Trail

2 months ago

upper Colby trail is awesome experience..

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