Inspiration Point via Sam Merril Trail to Castle Canyon Trail

HARD 145 reviews
#17 of 207 trails in

Inspiration Point via Sam Merril Trail to Castle Canyon Trail is a 8.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Altadena, California that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
8.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,732 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

bird watching

forest

views

wildlife

bugs

rocky

hiking
6 days ago

Left (very) early in the am saturday (5am) to beat the crowds. No one on the way up. Passed around 100 people on the way down. Not the best sunrise hike since the mountain blocks the sunrise. The second part past echo mountain is my favorite--you hike through a tree covered canyon by running water. Great view at the top with picnic tables to rest, but lots of loose granite / gravel. More like 9.5-9.8mi in total

Finished! My recording stopped every now and again but finished strong. Good hike if you’re looking for a challenge with views.

23 days ago

I enjoyed this trail, although the section from Sam Merrill to Echo Mountain was busier than I prefer. Next time I may try the route from Millard. From Echo Mountain it is a pretty, but somewhat steep/tiring trail up to Inspiration. Took the loop route back via Sam Merrill middle trail. The forested section at the beginning was really nice. That way seemed less steep than the Castle Canyon trail. The first part of Sam Merrill has little to no shade, unless you go early enough for the sun to be behind the hills, so might be hard on a hot day.
Current conditions were good - no snow, path was well maintained.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Pretty busy trail for a Friday morning, I can only imagine on the weekends. Enjoyed the historical narrations up the trail, lots to look at. Parking is along the residential street so I would suggest arriving early and double checking street parking signs  saw zero snow today

1 month ago

hiked this trail today 02/23/19
great hike, patches of snow and ice .

hiking
muddy
snow
1 month ago

Great trail, crowd thins out after Echo Mountain. Ice and snow was on the trail, poles highly recommended at the very least.

hiking
blowdown
snow
washed out
2 months ago

Maybe not as spectacular as the Cactus to Clouds trail, but the "Smog to Snow" trail was pretty spectacular this January day. As soon as you turn onto the Castle Canyon trail, you could hear the roar from the waterfalls down in the canyon. The trail near the top was snowy, wigh some icy patches, but passable with care.

Parts of the Sam Merrill trail were washed out from the recent storms, but I was impressed to see a crew of volunteers doung repairs. Thank you!

2 months ago

great early morning or evening hike with a beautiful over view of Pasadena

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail! You can really see the topography of the region from Inspiration point - even ships in the harbor in Long Beach. Make it a lolipop loop from the top of inspiration point. Take the pretty dirt fire road to Sam Merrill trail and make your descent through the forest. Super pretty and much gentler on the way down than castle canyon trail. You can see this connection on the map. Also, don’t listen to people on the trail that say it’s blocked. It’s not. They’re trying to go the wrong way. Check your GPS and look to the right;)

hiking
3 months ago

11/26/18 - Great hike with great friends. Love the history within the hike at Echo Mountain and the views at Inspiration Point were spectacular! We went on a Monday and had the summit all to ourselves!

3 months ago

Decent. Hit the trailhead 7am, 12/31/18. Few hiker on the way in. ~50*F. The historical points were worthwhile, somewhat strenuous. Lots of traffic on the way down. Total time w/20min. snack, about 4hrs. Lots of gravel slippage on the trail. Have shoes that grip (preferably a hard toe). Views of Pasadena, downtown LA, across the basin were spectacular.

4 months ago

I feel inclined to say this hike lived up to the 4.7 star rating. Trail Master Roscoe is very critical of hikes and the mornings here can get crowded with very ambitious mountain bikers on some trails. I always practice trail etiquette to the 10th degree, but exercise caution around some blind trail turns.
The views were definitely “inspirational” all the way out to Catalina this morning. Pease note that Apple Watches are not always accurate with distance per mile times, and expect some margin of error in canyons or areas with little to no service.

4 months ago

Amazing hike. Get all types of different elements. Shade. Sun. Running water. Forest. Temperature drops. It felt like east coast fall at certain spots.

My dog and I did the 9 mile RT in just over 3 hours.

Amazing views at inspiration point. Very cool concept with the pipes.

4 months ago

One of my favorite hikes to do. Portions of it are a little steep but offers some beautiful views along the way. Takes a few hours to complete so make sure to be out there a while.

4 months ago

great trail, definitely will come back to run..

hiking
4 months ago

Wow!! What a gem of a hike!! Right in my backyard. Unbelievable!!! So glad I finally took this route.

I hiked on a Sunday morning and there was no parking. It was crazy. Parked about half a mile or more away. Get there early if you don’t want to start your hike on the streets!

The trail was also very crowded. It made me happy to see so many people enjoying the trail so I didn’t mind the congestion. Everyone was very friendly. Lots of doggies, too!

The hike is moderate the whole way up the fire road and switch backs but once you break into the Castle trail, it gets tougher. The last mile or so was a real butt kicker and very rocky. Had to carry my little chihuahua up some of the sections.

I could easily see why it is called Inspiration Point! Stunning view of Los Angeles and beyond. Lots of people were eating lunch at the tables, in a very clean and nice shaded area. You should definitely pack a meal and enjoy the views!

Pack lots of water, wear a hat and sunscreen. There is some shade but the majority is in direct sun.

6 months ago

this was a really nice hike but it's a fire Road most of the way but the views from Inspiration Point are something special and it was 8 miles round-trip and we saw a bobcat

hiking
6 months ago

If you want a adventures hike take the Castle Canyon trail up to inspiration point. It was challenging but a shaded trail with great views. We took the Sam Merrill trail down. It was a nice trail covered by trees at first but then it was switchbacks and full sun exposure until the end of the trail.

hiking
6 months ago

Good hike. But the first part (Sam Merrill Trail) to get to inspiration Pt is very highly trafficked. Inspiration Pt trail is super steep but a good workout. It was overcast so couldn’t really see much. Lots of rocks going up and down. Overall good one.

7 months ago

I love inspiration point I will return a million times more, I feel a divine inner peace

hiking
9 months ago

This is one of my favorite local hikes! It can be done as a lollipop loop using the Sam Merril Trail as the base. When you reach the top of the Sam Merril Trail you can take the Castle Canyon Trail (which is really awesome and wild but pretty strenuous the 2nd half). Or you can stay left and keep going up the mountain about 3/4 of a mile on the Sam Merril Trail until you hit Mt. Lowe rd. Then make a right and take that about 2 3/4 of a mile until you hit the Mt, Lowe Campground. And then only 1/3 of a mile more up to the right to Inspiration Point. Once there you can go back down the way you came or do it as a loop. The Mt. Lowe Rd. way is a little longer but not as steep. I like to do this hike as a sunset hike...the views are amazing. I usually make it back to the halfway point near the old hotel as night has fallen. The views of the city at night are breathtaking.

10 months ago

I loved this hike! I took the Sam Merril trail to Echo Mountain and took the left turn onto the Inspiration Point trail. The signs are pretty easy to follow. The signs will tell you it’s 8.7 miles but I had a couple GPS trackers that told me I did a total of 10.6 miles.
The Echo Mountain portion of the trail is really busy, almost annoyingly so. Once you turn off to the Inspiration Point Trail the crowds die down dramatically. I think I passed 2 people the whole time. It was very cloudy and overcast once I got to the top and there was zero visibility but I still enjoyed watching the fog roll around the mountains.
There are picnic tables at the top so bring food and have a little picnic, it will be well deserved!
The little signs make for great photo ops too.
I definitely recommend this hike and will try it again when the sun is out to see how far I can see out.

hiking
11 months ago

Such an amazing view. Hike can be difficult depending which trail you take. 2 Out of 3 can be difficult, the longer way of course is a bit easier. I wouldn’t recommend wearing your general tennis shoes for this as there are areas with rocks or narrow walk ways.

Pack plenty of food and water.

hiking
11 months ago

Great and tough hike. Make sure you bring lots of water and snacks. It can get really hot or be very cold on top. Also bring good shoes with good grip. Not a lot of shade and can get crowded.

hiking
Thursday, April 05, 2018

Cloudy Monday AM (4/2/18). Best way to do it. Little sun, few people. Took Sam Merrill from Echo (2nd left after making the ridge). Longer but not as steep as Castle Canyon. 10.6mi total, 2756 ft elevation gain, 4.25 hours. Great views over the clouds.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Breathtaking! Great place to find yourself and get away from city life

hiking
Monday, February 19, 2018

The signs weren’t super clear (at least to us) and we ended up walking 5 extra miles for a total of 14, lol. Make sure you bring enough water since it is a long hike. The top is beautiful and hiking shoes are recommended for the downhill because it can be a little slippery.

hiking
Tuesday, February 06, 2018

hiking
Sunday, February 04, 2018

Great workout with an excellent view at the top, one of the best day hikes in LA. Bring a lunch to enjoy at the top!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Gorgeous yet strenuous trail. At the summit we took a left and went down Sam Merrill until we reached echo peak (half way point~). It was super cold today but the views were worth the windchill.

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