Inspiration Point via Sam Merril Trail to Castle Canyon Trail

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Angeles National Forest

Inspiration Point via Sam Merril Trail to Castle Canyon Trail is a 9.4 mile heavily 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: 9.4 miles Elevation Gain: 2,795 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

views

wildlife

bugs

rocky

Please note: Some facilities such as restrooms and campgrounds may not be available. Please consult the park's website before visiting.

hiking
over grown
rocky
13 days ago

Castle canyon was very overgrown on my trek today. It made the already narrow trail even more so.

hiking
1 month ago

There are no signs indicating this trail is closed, and we went on May 29. I recommend going counter-clockwise if you go, as another comment mentions, because coming down Castle Canyon felt a little unsafe- lots of loose rock, and it's steep. I had my boots on and still fell more than once. I would go up Castle Canyon and down Sam Merrill, or just using Sam Merrill for both directions.

hiking
3 months ago

Warning: “CLOSED(ish?) I went the other day and then again this morning. Due to the quarantine they’ve been closing off a lot of trails. This one was closed and taped off. There was a sign up, but it looked like some people just ripped the tape down and went in anyways. The trails were full of people... dunno if they’re going to start enforcing this more anytime soon. Regardless, I did the trail up to Inspiration point, I think. It was about 5mi and totally cool. Moderately difficult, cool scenery, some history, I’d definitely recommend and am looking fwd to trying longer trails.

hiking
4 months ago

Fun!

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked Inspiration point today very nice day out, started 630am finished about 11am. Round trip 10.5 miles moderate to fast pace took some breaks here and there. I personally feel like the first 2 1/2 miles from Cobb estate to echo mountain are the hardest after that it gets a little easier but very nice hike, beautiful views just be careful with the mountain bikes.

hiking
4 months ago

We went up Castle Canyon Trail to Inspiration Point and jogged down Middle Sam Merrill Trail. Another beautiful overcast morning. Solid test for those looking to conquer some peaks. Incline is tough but the views and surroundings are rewarding. The start of the Castle Canyon Trail has some overgrown shrubbery and looked sketchy. Wasn’t too sure we were going up he right path but about 50 feet past the overgrown patches the trail unravels.

Took 4.5 hours - for what it’s worth I’m out of shape for me - several trees down & had to climb over them on the trail. Otherwise nice 10 mile hike with my pup- varies between shade/sunny.

Small patches of snow left

hiking
blowdown
5 months ago

Nice hike up to inspiration point today. Trail to Echo Mountain is a great city-adjacent hike. Very nice views of the LA Basin, and super accessible. The flip side is the trial is very busy and the sounds of the city/traffic stays with you the entire time. Once switching from Sam Merrill to Castle Canyon Trail at the intersection near Echo, things quiet down a lot and it feels more like you are actually in the National Forest. Castle Canyon trail was certainly a bit more sporty than is likely the norm, given the number of downed trees across the trail and rock falls scattering scree from above, and slipping the trail out in places. There were still a small handful of snow patches near the top but those were just barely hanging on. Trail itself is all clear of snow. The key downside of Castle Canyon for me was that hikers going to Echo seem to use the turnoff for Castle Canyon as a toilet stop. On my way in, about 20 yards off of Sam Merrill, there was a big pile of human crap smack in the middle of the trail. Whoever left it hikes with toilet paper, as there was an accompanying pile of sh*t covered paper. Then on my way back down there was a fresh pile another hiker left in the middle of the trail about 20 yards from the first, this time with a boot print from some poor hiker who did not notice it there. The second pile also had its own mess of used toilet paper nearby. A double attack on Castle Canyon trail in just one afternoon. People clearly need to do what they have to do in an emergency, but at least pack it out or, if you don't have a bag, get off trail and try to bury it. How do two different people sh*t in the exact middle of this trail all in one afternoon? Clearly it's a go to spot, and any volunteer group up there that maintains the trail should consider putting a sign up at the start of Castle Canyon trial warning not to poop on the trail.

The part after echo mountain was much harder and secluded. Went on a weekday and only saw one other person. It is a beautiful trail. Going through some nice forest and nice and shaded. The last mile was a rough incline. According to my recording I went up 1000ft in the last mile. Yikes! It is 8 hours later now and I certainly feel that last mile in my legs. Definitely should be in shape for this hike. It took me about four hours up and down. There were some trees down that I had to climb over but not too big of a deal. Bring a lot of water. It was a cold day and I brought about 80 oz of water and even then I ran out when I got to the top. Was so thirsty on the way down. And definitely wear good hiking shoes.

Just over half way to the top of inspiration point/ with Kevin/ had to turn around to be back in time to pickup the kids/ went snowboarding 3 days prior to hike/ neck was sore

hiking
icy
snow
6 months ago

hiking
snow
6 months ago

Made it to the top of Echo Mountain and felt a little more ambitious so I headed towards inspiration point. The GPS said I was around half a mile away from the top, but the snow was getting intense and light was running out so I didn’t want to be stuck in a bad position. If I started the hike earlier I would’ve definitely given it a shot to the peak. Echo mountain has a lot of history to it. You will spot several large rusted railroad items At the top. Along with signs explaining the history. It was a fun hike in deed. I did this like the day after Christmas and the sights of Los Angeles where incredible. You could even see the ocean.

hiking
6 months ago

trails is for more experienced hikers. takes some time . but beautiful views at the end. trail is pretty crumbly and steep in some areas make sure u have appropriate hiking shoes

hiking
icy
snow
7 months ago

Lots of snow right now! Go before it melts!

hiking
icy
muddy
off trail
rocky
7 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

I love this trail but don't do it often becaues of the length and some of the narrow exposed parts (and the steep approach to Insperiation Point is a killer!) With that said, this is by far my favorite trail in the San Gabriels. Part of the magic is the contrast between the heavy traffic up to Echo Mountain and the silence and nature on the Castle Canyon trail. Also the CC trail has lovely canyon views, serene stream crossings, some heavily exposed areas and others that are very sheltered. I've done it at night (not recommended) and during the day. The variety of scenery it throws at you is awesome, surprising, and refreshing. Unfortunately, parts of the trail near Echo Mountain are eroding and it isn't clear how they could be reparied. Enjoy it while it's still open!

hiking
9 months ago

The perfect hike depending on how you get there I do the echo mountain trail follow by the 2/in half trail to the top , I like this way because there’s lots of shade but it’s a one man trail be caution , lots different ways to get there .

hiking
no shade
9 months ago

Most of the trail is without shade but what a rewarding experience

hiking
no shade
10 months ago

Great hike... took us about 5 hours RT. Start early as there is little to no shade once the sun rises over the mountains to the east. We took the Mt Lowe trail from Echo up to inspiration point... it adds about 2 miles, but is far less steep than castle rock trail and there are a bunch of cool historic markers talking about the old railroad that use to carry hotel guests up to inspiration point. After a short break we took the castle rock trail back down to Echo.. took us a little longer than expected as a rattle snake decided to it wasn’t going to move from the trail. After hydrating at Echo we headed back down with the sun directly over head... very hot and only a few shady spots on the way back down.

hiking
bugs
rocky
10 months ago

Great trail. Super challenging. Like someone mentioned, at the beginning (~.5 mi in, maybe more?) of the Castle Canyon trail there is a beehive. I would not recommend climbing around it because I got a nasty cut and prick from an agave plant. I bailed on the rock climbing and powered through the bees. Honestly, if you walk really slowly and are nice to them, they won’t sting you. They were much more concerned with pollinating flowers. Last 1.5 mi is super duper steep, though. People aren’t kidding. My legs are cursing me right now. ALSO, right before the trail gets to its serious steepness there’s a fork where it seems like you should go right, but REALLY there is a secret switchback to the left. I was lucky that someone before me put a line of rocks to show that you shouldn’t go that way. That part is the only confusing one. Otherwise, a pretty solo trail and peaceful as well. On the way back down, I took the Sam Merrill back and reunited with the part I climbed up. Listened to like 7 episodes of This American Life. I think the hike took me a bit longer because I went the wrong way whilst distracted by Ira Glass’s relaxing voice on the ascent to Echo Mountain. I’m not the most experienced hiker either so it was about 6-7 hrs for me. Ultimately, it was a great hike. Buggy but great.

hiking
bugs
10 months ago

I have done this trail a few times, most recently about a month ago. There is a large beehive in a tree once you start the ascent to inspiration point via castle canyon trail. The bees were so bad I had to cut off the trail and head straight up. There is a faint trail you can follow to avoid the bee hive.

hiking
rocky
10 months ago

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