Windy Gap to Big Cienega Trail is a 6.6 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Azusa, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
6.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,335 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

The higher you get the more you are exposed to the sun. Some tree cover in the beginning and at the top. Mostly rocky terrain. A little windy on top.

21 days ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

*butt kicker
*super windy, hence the name

hiking
2 months ago

Ended up taking this trail after exploring through the campgrounds and we couldn't find Half Knob or realized it was paved. Beautiful terrain and vistas. Saw a young doe. Only went a few miles in. Only knock is that it's hard to get away from irritating human noise due to the street racers (cars & motorcycles), campgrounds, and air traffic in the area.

hiking
2 months ago

We started trail just north of Crystal Lake campground. Nice uphill grade and good workout amongst the pines.

hiking
4 months ago

the start of the trail was a bit troublesome to find. make sure to park in the big parking lot then you will see the sign. about 80% shaded going up. not as windy as i had hoped. put bug repellant. also along the way the trail is more like Mt. Islip rather than The Windy Gap. just kno if u go towards Mt. Islip u will be fine.

hiking
4 months ago

We started at Crystal Lake Campground. We had four dogs with us and this was a good intro hike for them. The ascent was a steady uphill with some steep sections and loose shale. The dogs did fine. There are A LOT of small annoying flies near the campground and lower half of the trail. Aside from that, the trail was nice and I would do this hike again.

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful Hike. Easy parking. Lots of cool terrain and things to look at along the way like big rocks and trees, a few streams, and gorgeous views of the mountains and even the city once you're at the top. Bring a jacket b/c the gap is windy, as advertised!
Definitely recommend taking the 0.4 mile detour to the top of Islip peak. Took very little time and at the top was a little stone hut and amazing 360 views.
Would also recommend checking out the crystal lake cafe. I got to hold a python there before the hike! You can also pickup a parking pass and some decent food. The smoky aroma by the cafe was intoxicating as well.
Didn't have time to check out crystal lake. Please note that Windy Gap trail wont take you to any lakes like some pictures suggest.
Overall great success!

7 months ago

Great just to be out and enjoy the outdoors. Most of the hike I found easy, with sections that I would consider moderate. The weather was cool and a bit windy toward the top. But as others have mentioned, in the middle of a heat spell, bring LOTS of water, and wear a hat ... if bringing a dog, go super early and also there are some spots that are a bit precarious if your dog bounds about be careful.

Not many people on Easter Sunday. Don’t be turned off by starting your hike in the middle of camping sites, you soon depart from the area.

7 months ago

Awesome trail wish there was still more snow left tho. The views are really nice

8 months ago

If I could give it another star I would. Challenging mentally and physically but great fun.

hiking
9 months ago

This is a very beautiful trial that is pretty easy, and I highly recommend it for a nice day hike with some friends. This trial is not too heavily trafficked, beautiful views almost the whole entire trail. Make sure you take the short detour to visit the peak of Mt. Islip!

9 months ago

Hiking

hiking
11 months ago

Not often you can still hike this trail in mid Dec without winter gears. Nice patches of clouds in blue sky. Our group of 6 owned the trail for AM. Very pleasant day and place. Hit the trail while weather is not cold yet

hiking
11 months ago

Nice trail, a little windy (hence the name), lots of people doing maintenance.

hiking
Monday, November 06, 2017

Perfect trail with stunning views. Very well marked. On a cloudy day 2/3 of the hike you’ll be hiking above the clouds; watching clouds constantly move and change shapes is oddly satisfying. Super cold at the top of Mt. Islip so be prepared!- bring a jacket and a hat. Definitely coming back.

trail running
Saturday, September 02, 2017

Very nice trail run to Mt. Islip ascending Big Cienega and descending Windy Gap. The gradient is not too steep, usually not too rocky, and definitely not crowded on a weekday. Started at 830 am and it was about 20 degrees cooler than than the hot temperatures down in Azusa and the San Gabriel Valley. GPS measured the full loop just short of 8 miles, including the side trip to the summit of Mt. Islip. I ascended in 45:59 from Windy Gap Trailhead at Crystal Lake to Mt. Islip, a record according to Strava.com (although I did it in 43:08 many years ago in the pre-Strava era). Other trail runners typically take over an hour for the ascent even without walking at all. Saw 2 deer on the descent, and only one hiker. The hiker had 2 unleashed dogs and one immediately lunged at me when I approached; it bit my leg (calf) and bloodied it up! PLEASE, dogs should be on a leash as the trailhead sign says.

hiking
Monday, July 31, 2017

Surprisingly rewarding. Saw a small bear on the road, people were talking selfies. The bear was dark brown with a lighter brown snout. I got mountain scared that the mom would show up. I went around the bear, which jumped a rail into the forest. The hike was choice, I did it clockwise, but the earlier hikers got shade doing it regular. Yes, very little shade, and in July you get those smoggy layered views of the basin. I will definitely do this again, super mellow yet as challenging as you can handle.

hiking
Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bunch of bugs , but it was a great hike!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It was a great hike... I always love going to the Crystal Lake Cafe when I am done with a hike in that area. Be warned that there were a TON of fallen rocks on the trail. I really regretted wearing my running shoes and not my hiking boots. I could feel every rock and I slipped a few times, so just come prepared. Also, go early on hot days... a lot of the trail is not shaded. Gorgeous views from the top. Also, we got caught in a ladybug swarm, which was kind of awesome.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Loved every twist, turned and elevation. The view is amazing. It was amazing getting back and look up on how high we went. What a day to spend Mothers Day.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

If you're looking for up, up and up this is a good place to start. This is the other way to get to Little Jimmy campground and we did it at night. When we came back through after camping we saw beautiful views and some fire ravaged areas. Many pairs of eyes looking at us from the dark and some weren't scared of us (don't know what was watching us)!!! Also saw deer.

hiking
Thursday, December 29, 2016

We only did Crystal Lake to Windy Gap. Originally we had planned to go to Islip, but we barely made it to windy gap, as we werent prepared for that much snow. Great views hiking up this side of the windy gap, more enjoyable than hiking up the north facing side from lil jimmy. Although a lot of snow had melted by the time we went down, it was still tough trekking. Would be great to hike up this side again in the spring.

hiking
Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Adventure pass is needed for parking. There's a good amount of shade throughout the hike trail. A must need is bug repellent spray. Thankfully I always carry some because we definitely needed it. There are a lot of mosquitos and gnats, especially in the beginning. Bring more than enough water just in case! The scenery is definitely worth the hike. The trail is somewhat marked and signs are far and few. This is also a very lightly trafficked and narrow trail. Definitely will be coming back.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Great trail! All the way up to Windy Gap and along the Islip ridge until we could come down Big Cienaga for a total of 9 miles. Great views all the way around. A good amount of tree coverage throughout. We will definitely be back to check out other trails in the area.

backpacking
Saturday, June 11, 2016

Hiked portions of this trail for a backpacking trip to Little Jimmy with a Boy Scout troop. Trail was mostly shaded in the morning, and the views from the peak were amazing. Definitely stop by and get some spring water from the Little Jimmy spring, it's delicious!

The trail was a bit tough with a full pack, but a great time was had all around.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Very nice views when going to the top. Still lots of burned areas from the fire in 2002. Really nice and only saw 4 people the entire hike.

hiking
Monday, July 27, 2015

This is a moderate hike. Only passed one person on the whole trail. So beautiful and no trash! No shade and saw a snake and deer. Would do it again. When you try to find the trail, take the road to the lake and follow it to the first parking lot. Park there and the trail is south/west of the parking lot.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Steady and easy hike...but definitely worth it. Went in early April did the windy gap trail from west side up and looped back to east side down..most people do the other way around. I loved the scenery it is truly one of the nicest hikes in the San Gabriel mountains. This is a great intermediate to beginner (at least with some conditioning) hike that will surely please! Awesome!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Great day hike. Beautiful views of the San Gabriel valley.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Really surprised there are not many comments about this trail...ran into several hikers who stated this is their favorite hike. This is a moderate hike with awesome views...it is my favorite will keep doing this hike!

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