Los Angeles Top Trails
Excerpted from Top Trails: Los Angeles by Jerry Schad
BEST VIEWS: When the dry winds of autumn sweep the skies free of airborne pollution, the mile-high Mount Lowe offers jaw-dropping views of nearly the entire L.A. Basin. Reminder: 2004's extreme fire conditions could close the area until the first significant rains of the fall season.
Finding the Trail
From Interstate 210 in La Cañada, drive 14 miles north on Angeles Crest Highway to Red Box Station. Turn right on Mount Wilson Road and proceed exactly 2.4 miles to a roadside parking area at unmarked Eaton Saddle. This small, but popular trailhead could be jammed with cars on the weekends. Don't forget to display your National Forest Adventure Pass.
Walk past the gate on the west side of Mount Wilson Road and proceed up the dirt road (Mount Lowe Fire Road) that curves under the precipitous south face of San Gabriel Peak. As you approach a short tunnel, (0.3 mile) dating from 1942, look for the remnants of a cliff-hanging trail to the left of the tunnel's east entrance.
At Markham Saddle (0.5 mile) the fire road starts to descend slightlydon't continue on the road. Instead, find the Mount Lowe Trail on the left (south). You contour southwest above the fire road for about 0.6 mile, and then start climbing across the east flank of Mount Lowe without much change of direction.
At 1.3 miles, make a sharp right turn (the Mount Lowe east trail goes straight). Proceed 0.2 mile uphill, then go left on a short spur trail to reach the barren summit. Late in the year, when the smog lightens, but temperatures still hover within a moderate register, come up to Mt. Lowe to toast the setting sun. When it's time to go, return the way you came.
During the Mount Lowe Railway's heyday, thousands of tourists disembarked at the "tavern" below and tramped Mount Lowe's east- and west-side trails for a better view of the lowlands. Some reminders of that era remain on the Mount Lowe west trail: Volunteers have repainted, relettered, and returned to their proper places some of the many sighting tubes that helped the early tourists familiarize themselves with the surrounding geography. The optional loop around Mount Lowe's west and east trails adds another two miles to your journey.
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Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication