Explore the most popular birding trails in San Gabriel Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
19 days ago

Did this on may 1st with fog, fog, fog: no views. But wonderfully quiet and cool. Took side trips to Echo Mountain, Muir Peak and Mt Lowe for a combined 17 mi hike. very nice. The actual trail is well maintained, well indicated and not all that hard.
All the historical signs and indicators made the trail a tad too domesticated for my taste.

I took this route back in 2009 and had fond memories and wanted to do it again so I took my 25 year old daughter on the hike as part of our preparation to summit Half Dome in Yosemite this summer.

This route was as pleasant and interesting as I remembered. I enjoy the climb to the ruins at Mt. Lowe and the the level walk back into Castle Canyon and then the sharp ascent to the top. I like the lookout and “telescopes” up there. Then, continuing on the loop comes the shady and level section through the trees before the descent.

As you make your way down the mountain the sense of how high you have climbed is impressive. Great views! We were out on the trail about 6.5 hours, moving 5.5. 11.6 miles.

worth all the effort!

Fun hike did it just under 5 hrs. Got to trailhead at 7am and wasn’t too crowded but on the way down lots of people to dodge around. Did Muir Peak while at Inspiration- easy side trip and worth the view / quietness

Great day hike and a good one to use to train for Vivian Creek. Hit it on a clear day and you can see for miles.

Fun hike. We’re pretty experienced, fit hikers and it took us 5 and a half hours (including stopping to explore the ruins and taking a lunch break at Inspiration Point). Pretty hazy, but still enjoyed the view.

Fun route to get down to cooper canyon. The first part of the trail can be either the road or the PCT. I recommend taking the PCT the whole way.

I hiked his trail just after a snow melt and the stream was flowing heavy. The smell of spring was very strong in the air and there were clouds streaming over the mountain tops and a constant cool breeze. Couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Amazing views. Great hike.

great views, lots of climbs

Hiked 3/5/18 After a fresh snowfall I decided to do this trail. However I did this as a loop. Ascending the Islip Ridge trail, and then descended via Windy Gap Trail (which I highly recommend). I can’t say for sure how strenuous this is without snow, but it was pretty intense as this was my first real snow hike. Poles and Crampons were a definite must as the last couple miles were completely covered. The views were amazing and the sky was so clear I could see all the way past Catalina to San Clemente!

So fun and one of the best views of LA from uptop.

I love this set of trails. Sam Merill Trail starts at the intersection of Lake Ave and Alta Loma Dr, straight up Lake Ave from the 210 about 5 miles. Its all street parking, i've never had an issue finding a spot neary even at 9am. Just look at the signs, some say No Parking, some have times.

The first 2.5 miles is steep and can get hot with almost no shade so start early. You hit the old site of Echo Mountain Hotel and the Mount Lowe Railway at 2.5 miles and there's an amazing view of DTLA and Catalina from there. At this point there are several trails that branch off. Continue another 2.5 miles on the Inspiration Point Trail. This portion is awesome. There is alot of shade, it goes by a creek, it starts to look foresty, and you get a glimpse of a cool cave which I have yet to try to get to. Once at the top, the views are breathtaking! There are several points of interest to look out at, there are benches to have a snack, and shade. The view is amazing and without driving into the mountains.

For this route, you take the trail over the back side of Inspiration Point where it is all shade for the first few miles down. Here you will likely see deer roaming. Also beware this portion is highly traveled by mountain bikers, listen for their bell warning and let them pass by quickly. Eventually you will arrive back at the top of Echo Mountain. From here continue down the Sam Merill Trail you came up originally for 2.5 more miles. Most of this trail is narrow and has steep drop offs, it can get congested. The lower portion is highly traveled by runners. Overall it is still excellent, especially with the ease of getting there.

on Upper Bear Creek

backpacking
3 months ago

Fun backpacking adventure. Finding campground is difficult, we ended up setting up camp at a flat along the river. Lots of rock hopping on the way out.

Overall a good hike. The first half is very repetitive and offers a great view, but just a single one. On the way back, more cover, more vegetation and quite a few deer. San Nicolas Island was visible from the top - 125km away! Finished the hike after sunset, the night view over LA is breathtaking.

It was a difficult trail but every steps we took worth the spectacular view.

Trail was pretty difficult but it was a great workout and the views were beautiful

hiking
5 months ago

Nice trail,gorgeous views. Watch out for bikers from Echo mountain to Inspiration point.

walking
5 months ago

Walked 3 miles in. Beautiful sounds from the river throughout the walk. Would have been perfect with a bike.

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike, close to town but get you high into the mountains for great views to Catalina to the Rose Bowl. It can be hot on warm day but quickly climbs into the cooler mountains. Plenty of parking, even on weekends. Our hike to Inspiration Point stops by the site of Echo Mountain and the Mount Lowe Railway where you can see the remains of the machinery for the incline and foundations of the resort. Ring the bell on Echo Mountain and shout into the Megaphone and hear your echo come back from the nearby mountains.

My dog rates this 6/5

Definitely go in the morning. Breaking right to go up was super nice!

This has become my new favorite hike. Great views, moderate exercise and even a bit of LA history thrown in for good measure. The hike starts in Altadena. You can street park for free on Lake Ave near the entrance until 10pm. If you plan to make it a nighttime hike, then just going outside the signage on the street a few blocks will mean you can stay out longer. (Nighttime is spectacular by the way, and permitted here if I read other hike reviews correctly. The nightlife comes out, there are fewer hikers and the views of LA lights are majestic - just bring a headlamp and warm clothes obviously.) Inspiration Point itself is a rock structure located on the saddle of the Lowe ridge. It features "telescopes" (really just pipes you can look through) that are aimed at particular landmarks across LA county. Be sure to check out Echo Mountain if you have a chance, which is located about halfway up the mountain. It features the scattered concrete remains of a famous household and train tracks that resided there early last century. The hike to echo Mountain is more populated. During the day you'll pass quite a few people. The hike from there to inspiration point is much more sparse. This is a 3000 ft elevation climb so bring plenty of water and snacks to eat at the point itself which also has picnic tables for anyone to use.

beautiful views throughout. the first part of the hike can be done at night to see the lights of the valley underneath. it's especially stunning around the holidays. be careful on your way back down. I wouldn't try to run this. with the foot traffic and the slightly steep terrain you might tumble.

This was my second time on this exact same path, and it was great. The first time, I didn't have enough water, and I wasn't cardio fit, but did complete it with much longer time needed to complete this. This time around, with improved cardio I did this hike in less than 50% off from my first hike. Just remember to take lots of water, 3 litters and up. I took 4 litters but used only 3 litters this time. I will go back and do this, but will do the reverse loop this time. Same path, but going up and coming down clockwise. It's easier going up to Inspiration Point counter clockwise, but I'll be doing the clockwise loop in the next few weeks.

Nice out and back hike on the PCT with fantastic views along the way!

hiking
11 months ago

Great hike. I'd go up Sam Merrill, come down Castle Canyon. The canyon is pretty steep. But overall an amazingly varied hike with even a bonus water cross in Castle Canyon on the way down. More people at Inspiration Point than I would have predicted. Still good flowers, particularly higher up.

hiking
Monday, May 08, 2017

One of the best hikes I've completed in socal.

backpacking
Friday, January 06, 2017

This is an easy trail which also happens to be a segment of the PCT. At the bottom of this trail segment is a falls in the creek that trickles even during the summer in drought years. It is a good place to replenish water if you have a filter. The Cooper Canyon Trail camp is well equipped with pit toilets, picnic tables and stoves. To get down to the falls involves a scramble down the bank with the assistance of an existing rope. A fit person could probably do it without the rope, but some may not be able to do it even with the rope, especially if you have a fear of falling. I did this trail as a Boy Scout backpacking weekend. We also saw families with young children. Its a good easy route.

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