Windy Gap to Mount Islip to Big Cienega Trail

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Angeles National Forest

Windy Gap to Mount Islip to Big Cienega Trail is a 6.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Valyermo, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and bird watching and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length6.5 miElevation gain2,273 ftRoute typeLoop
CampingHikingBird watchingDog friendlyViewsWildflowersWildlifeRocky
Description
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Getting There

FIRE CLOSURE: As of February 2021 there are closures in this park or area due to wildfire. For more information, please visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/angeles/alerts-notices. SEASONAL ROAD CLOSURE: Roads leading to this trailhead are subject to seasonal closure. For more information, please visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/angeles/conditions/?cid=FSBDEV3_027722 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.

Lots of toilets in around the crystal lake campgrounds.

California Travel and Tourism Commision, P.O. Box 1499 , Sacramento, CA, 95812-1499, Phone: 800-862-2543

Directions from Azusa, CA: Follow Highway 39 for 25 miles to the Crystal Lake Recreation Area. You may leave your vehicle in the dirt parking lot in the upper part of the campground. A National Forest Adventure Pass is required for your vehicle while parked in this area unless you have paid to enter the Crystal Lake Recreation Area.

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Reviews (290)
Photos (1,065)
Activities (222)
Completed (598)
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Trent Cohen
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HikingGreat!
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Dominic S.
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HikingMuddyNo shadeSnow

This trail was really cool. I decided to skip the loop and just do the out and back way. I didn’t go to Big Cienaga, but it was still awesome. Towards the top, there are waist deep swells and super sticky snow that adds pounds to your boots. It was super brutal hiking on the last ridge. In places the snow got to about 2 and a half 3 feet on the trail. It was super fun, but very hard. Serious Post Holing. (This was a couple days ago though, so conditions might be less brutal.) There were also a few signs of wet slides, so you gotta watch out for those right now.

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Seung Wook Hwang
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Hiking
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Lee Wie
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Hiking
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joon rho
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Hiking
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Mike Songer
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Hiking

Great hike. About a half mile of snow/ice from windy gap toward the summit of mount islip. No spikes needed, but poles helped out. Other than that a perfect day

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Alfonso Barragan
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HikingGreat!

The weather on February 23 was perfect, sunny skies but cool, encountered some ice sheets on the mountain too but the trail could be seen easily, the gate to the campground was open but the ranger’s office and the cafe were closed, anyhow I paid for my stay as to about being cited

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Alfonso Barragan
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HikingGreat!
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Ron Hiner
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FishingGreat!

This is a chalenging trail for us two different times we attempted but freezing rain got the best of us getting older now but this is a wonderful hike and we are determined to get through next time and another came across a bear.

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Stefan Schweizer
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HikingSnow

The trail was in full winter mode with thick snow. I hiked on Jan 30 right after the snow storm, with only one pair of tracks to show me the trail. Going back the spur was deeper and more obvious. It was certainly more strenuous than on consolidated snow, but the solitude coupled with the winter wonderland was worth every minute.

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Matthew Sung
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Hiking

Hiked on 1/22/21 . Most of trail is snow free except from wind gap to summit. There are few spots I had to negotiate the packed snow. No need for crampon yet but tracking poles could be nice to keep u balance on snow. I saw no human on entire trail.

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Dieter Bohlen
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Hiking
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Brandy Davenport
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Hiking

It was definitely a good challenge on the ascent. We went counterclockwise, as others have suggested and there was more shade that way. It was 92 degrees out so we were thankful for the wind. Beautiful views the whole way of both sides of the mountain. Would definitely take this one again.

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Brittany Schöof
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Hiking

This was an ok trail. Decent views and you really feel like you’re just walking along a mountain carving your own path. In my opinion though there are more stunning trails in Angeles National Forest that are less of a hassle to get to. We went in early August and started about an hour after sunrise and went counterclockwise on the loop which I would highly recommend as that provided shade for most of the ascent. Nice little rest spot at the peak and worth the little extra trek to get to the top.

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Don Thomas
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Hiking

This is an invigorating hike with beautiful views along the way!

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Mike Jones
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HikingGreat!
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Cren Savedra
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HikingGreat!
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DJ Goodman
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HikingBlowdownBugsOver grown

After noticing other reviewers saying the parking lot was closed, I decided to park near Crystal Lake, hike to the lake, and add a few more miles to the indicated "6.5 miles" hike. I walked through the Crystal Lake Campground and found the trailhead thanks to the AllTrails app. As others have mentioned, there were A LOT of bugs at the start of the hike. At least they were not the biting kind...just the annoying "in your face" kind. The trail starts out well shaded and gradually ascends until passing a paved road. There are plenty of signs around every junction making it easy to navigate. I went counterclockwise taking the Windy Gap Trail up to Mt Islip. There were not any very steep parts throughout the entire hike. After coming up on Windy Gap, there were more signs with one indicating Mt Islip was 0.8 miles away. I summited a short time later and observed the ruins of a building & the foundation of another structure at the summit and had lunch. After lunch, I descened via Big Cienega Trail and noticed there were portions that were partially overgrown; however, very managable. Additionally, there were a few trees that had fallen over the trail too. Thre were more bumblebees that I have ever seen along this section of the trail. The bumblebees did not bother me, even after brushing up against the plants they were feeding from on the trail. Big Cienega Trail wraps around and eventually ends up at the junction with the Windy Gap Trail. You then proceed back to the trailhead, through the campground, and back to your vehicle. Enjoy!

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michelle Tarian
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Hiking

This trail had spectacular views the whole time.

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Michael Kuperman
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definitely a good amount of flys on the way up but they go away. The first 3 ish miles are open and then on the loop coming down you get some tree coverage. Had to walk about .5 mi to the trail head as the road was closed. Fine hike though.

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Michael Kuperman
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Hiking

definitely a good amount of bugs at the beginning of the hike but they will go away and itll he mostly bumble bees. gate was closed about .5 mi before the trail so you'll have to walk in. solid hike that's a good work out, very open at the beginning as well.

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Juan Arbona
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WalkingBugs
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F S
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HikingBugsOver grownRocky
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Justin Kohlas
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HikingBugsNo shade

Great trail. Good portion of Windy Gap is along a pretty steep/exposed ridge line so watch your step and take it slow. Bugs weren’t a problem until the summit. Coverup since you’re exposed to sun most of the way. Incredible views from the top. Road to trailhead is closed so you have to park by the cafe and walk up.

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