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La Tuna Foot Trail

This hike begins just off La Tuna Canyon and is very enjoyable. There are a couple of different trails that you can access from this area, but, this one in particular is called the La Tuna Foot Trail(specifically for hiking and not biking). To access this specific trail, you will exit on La Tuna Canyon on the 210 West and make a left, you will see a pullout to park right away under the overpass, but, this is not the trailhead for this hike, keep driving West and in about a mile, you will see a small dirt pullout on your left(keep in mind that if you drive an additional .4 miles, you will see another dirt pullout on the left with a trailhead, but that will not be the La Tuna Foot Trail, so make sure you park in the first dirt pullout you see which will be about a mile from the 21o, like I said. Park here and take the dirt pathway down into a stream and you will see the trail begin towards the left. This is a good moderate hike because you will reach the top of the Verdugo Mountains in about 2 miles and you will gain about 1500 feet in elevation. The trail starts of very steep and is consistently ascending with some sections being very, very steep. This a great trail because even though you will be off La Tuna Canyon, as you ascend the trail becomes very isolated and makes you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. You will start to get some nice views of the Verdugo Mountains, along with a nice aeriel view of the 210 on the left, as well as Mt. Lukens as you ascend. Some sections are very rocky so just be aware and proceed with caution. The first part of the trail is a little overgrown, but you should have no problem at all. As you start to climb, the trail becomes a little more more rocky but it is well maintained for the majority.

Nice view of the sky and towards Mt. Lukens.

I will call this a moderate hike, but, if this trek added another mile or so with a gain of about another 1000 feet in elevation, I would then call this a strenuous hike. The intensity is very similar to the Icehouse Canyon Trail up to the Icehouse Canyon Saddle in the Cucamonga Wilderness(which is 3.6 miles to the saddle and a 2600 foot elevation gain). Keep in mind that the La Tuna Canyon Foot Trail has several sections that ascend and descend that are steep. The final ascent to the top of the Verdugo Mountain is very steep. Please use caution as you are ascending, and, then as you head back down. When you reach the top of the Verdugo Mountain(which stands at about 2800 feet in elevation), you will see a big oak tree with a couple benches right underneath. This will be a great place to relax in the shade and enjoy a snack after a real good workout. You will also have a nice view towards the East of Mt. Lukens(which stands at just over 5000 feet in elevation and is the highest point of any mountain in the LA basin), and you will have some nice views of the San Fernando Valley towards the West. When you decide to leave, head back down the same way you came and remember to use caution on some of the sections that are very steep that go up and go down.

Top of the Verdgo Mountain where couple benches lie under the tree.

La Tuna Foot Trail Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 1500 feet
  • Round Trip – 4.4 miles
  • Suggested Time – 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Season – Any Season

Nice view of the woods off the trail.

The La Tuna Foot Trail is in the Verdugo Mountains. From the 210 West, exit La Tuna Canyon and make a left(West). You will head West for about a mile and you will see a small dirt pullout on the left. Park here. You will not need an Adventure Pass because this is not in National Forest ground.

If you have any questions about this hike, feel free to leave a comment here and/or email at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

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Telegraph Peak via Icehouse Canyon Trail

Telegraph Peak from Icehouse Canyon Saddle is one heck of a challeging hike. Telegraph Peak stands at 8,985 feet; making it the highest point in the Cucamonga Wilderness, and from my experience, it is tougher than Cucamonga Peak by a notch. The elevation gain is about 4500 feet and the last stretch .1 mile or so is as steep as it can get. The peak offers fantastic views of the High Desert, Mt. San Jacinto, Mt. Baldy and the San Gabriel Mountains. as well as other mountains. I would not recommend this hike when there is snow because it is very easy to lose the trail and though I am a very experienced and advanced hiker, I found myself in a situation where I am happy to still be breathing. Also, Telegraph Peak beyond the Icehouse Saddle is not traveled nearly as much as Ontario or Cucamonga Peak, so, it is quite isolated. Of course, isolation can be good, but, if you get lost, no one is going to hear you. But, I am a die hard hiker and I love challenges, although I do not plan to experience what I did on this hike ever again.  To get to the peak, by accessing the trailhead at Icehouse Canyon, you will hike a total of 3.6 miles and gain about 2600 feet to reach the Icehouse Saddle. From there, there are several peaks that you can access as there as signs posted as to which direction your desired peak is. Look for the sign for Telegraph Peak, which will also include Timber and Thunder Mountain, and continue an additional 2.9 miles to the summit. You will reach the Timber Mountain area in about 0.9 miles and then you will descend about 200 feet into the saddle between Timber and Telegraph, just remember you will have to ascend this back up, and after gaining about 4500 feet reaching Telegraph and then descending down the switchbacks of Telegraph to get back to this saddle again; well, it will make couple hundred feet seem like a lot more. But, if you love the challenge and are an experienced hiker, I say go for it! The views from Telegraph are amazing and there is also a register that you can sign as well.

View of Mt. Baldy from Telegraph Peak.

Keep in mind that to even reach the Icehouse Saddle and come back; this wil be about 7.2 miles with a gain of 2600 feet. Icehouse Canyon Trail is no joke, but well worth the workout. With any of these peaks, if you decide go to past the Icehouse Saddle, it is good to pace yourself and not rush. Save your energy because you will need it to conquer peaks in the Cucamonga Wilderness. There is another way to access Telegraph Peak from the Manker Flats, but the gain is about 3500 as oppose to 4500. But to really experience the challenge, I would recommened doing Telegraph from the Icehouse Canyon Trail. Like I mentioned before, I think it is best to these hikes in the late Spring through late Fall; when there is no snow or not much of it. The snow can get really slippery at times; especially the ice. Use your discretion if it is worth doing now or waiting until the snow clears up. As far as snacks, I have noticed from my Trek’s that bringing a power bar, beef jerky and sunflower seeds is a great way to keep energy. Telegraph Peak is also a great conditioning hike for Trek’s such as Mt. Whitney. The conditioning mostly helps with your endurance and strength, and with the elevation starting at nearly 5,000 feet from Icehouse Trailhead up to nearly 9,000 feet at the Telegraph Peak, this will be very helpful with the acclimation to get your body in condition to attempt hikes like Mt. Whitney; which stands at nearly 14,500 feet or so. The air is really thin up there.

View of the High Desert from Telegraph Peak.

Telegraph Peak Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 4500 Feet
  • Round Trip – 13 Miles
  • Suggested Time – 6 hours
  • Difficulty – Very Strenuous
  • Best Season – Late Spring to Late Fall

View on the ascension to Telegraph Peak.

Telegraph Peak is located in the Angeles National Forest near Mt. Baldy. To get to the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead, take the I-210 to the Mountain Ave/Mt. Baldy exit, drive 4.3 miles north on Mountain Ave (which becomes Shinn Road). Take a right on Mt. Baldy Road (the end of Shinn Road), and drive 6.4 miles and take a right into the Icehouse Canyon parking lot. On the way drop by the Mt. Baldy Visitor’s Center and pick up the free wilderness permit required for the Cucamonga Wilderness. A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 per year) is required for parking at the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead.

If you plan to do this hike and have any additional questions, please feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

Echo Mountain and Mt. Lowe via Sam Merrill and Castle Canyon Trail

This was a very interesting hike due to the history of the “White City” on Echo Mountain. In the Late 1890’s through 1930’s, a resort known as the “White City” provided one of the top two Southern California attractions during that time; there was a trolley that would take guests all the way to the top of Echo Mountain to this amazing resort. Unfortunately, due to fires and flood, all that remains now are the ruins of this once great hotel. The hike to Echo Mountain is about 2.7 miles and a gain of about 1400 feet via the Sam Merrill trail which you can access from the old Cobb Estate. This is one of the most popular hikes in the area due to the history and therefore it can get very busy. I did this hike several months ago and though the weather was not great, the views to and from Echo Mountain; the old “White City” were amazing. Unfortunately, my plan was to go to the summit of Mt. Lowe and about 1/2 mile past Echo Mountain, the weather got a lot worse and a huge fog bank hit. Echo Mountain is a great area to take pictures as there are many ruins there, which include the hotel foundations, old trolley’s, trolley wheels, trolley tracks, picnic area where the tennis courts once stood, and, several plaques that explain the history of the “White City.” This is a great place to reminisce what was once there. Even if you decide to turn back from there, this will be a good workout with a 1400 foot gain and a 5.4 miles round trip. But, if you want to explore this area further and hike up to the summit Mt. Lowe, it will be well worth it.

One of the "White City" ruins at the top of Echo Mountain.

To head towards to the Summit of Mt. Lowe, look for the Castle Canyon Trail, which is about 1/4 mile from the “White City.” This trail will first take you 2 miles with a 1400 foot gain up to Inspiration Point. This first 1/2 mile or so of this trail is pretty moderate, but as you get towards the last mile or so, it becomes very steep and I believe most of the 1400 gain is in this section. I found this section of the trail one of the more challenging I have been on, and I have done some Monster Hikes that include Mt. Baldy from the village(about a 5700 foot gain), Cucamonga Peak, Finger Rock in Arizona, and the famous Mt. Whitney. On top of that, as the weather got worse, a massive fog bank engulfed the area, and, boy, it got really cold and tougher to breathe during this steep ascencion. As I got to Inspiration Point, there was still not much I could see because of the fog, but Inspiration Point is covered, and it has benches and picnic tables, it has some more plaques about the history, and it also has lots of spotters that point to different areas in Southern California. This is a great spot if the weather is clear. At this point, you will have gained about 2800 feet in elevation. So, I took a 5 minute break, and then began the final ascencion to the Summit of Mt. Lowe; which is about another 1.75 miles and about another 1100 feet in gain from Inspiration Point. As I was climbing the fog actually got worse and I could barely see ten feet in front of me and there was noboby hiking at this point except me until I reached the summit of Mt. Lowe. To my surprise, I saw a group of Korean folks that were just packing up from a picnic that they were having. At the summit, there are more plaques about the history and the railway, and, there are some benches and more spotters that point towards the Mt. Wilson area. There is also a register that you can sign, so, I did, and then I headed back down. Of course, on a clear day, the views from here must be astonishing.

"Inspiration Point" but it did not live up to the name with this huge fog bank.

Mt. Lowe Statistics

  • Elevation Gain – 3900 feet
  • Round Trip – 13 Miles
  • Suggested Time – 6 Hours
  • Difficulty – Strenuous
  • Best Season – Any Season

An old tree engulfed in the fog bank on the ascension to the Summit of Mt. Lowe.

Echo Mountain and Mt. Lowe is in the Angeles National Forest. From the East I-210 Foothill Freeway in Pasadena, exit at Lake Avenue and make a left (North) for about 3.4 miles to the end of Lake Avenue until it connects with Loma Alta Drive(which runs East to West). From there you can park along the street and the hike begins to the right of the stone gateway on the east side of the street. Look for the Sam Merrill Trail.

If you have any quesitons about this hike, please feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

Chumash Trail to Rocky Peak

This is a great moderate hike with excellent views on a clear day. The juntion to Rocky Peak is 2.6 miles from the Trailhead and the entire hike is an ascencion on a ridge. The views on this ridge are towards the Pacific Ocean in Oxnard, the Santa Monica Mountains, the Los Padres Mountains, and the San Fernando Valley(Angeles Forest) as well. The trail is in a great shape and it is very rocky in some areas, but, very well maintained. You will also see some great rock formations and boulders as well that have very interesting geology. You have the option to take the Chumash Trail to the Rocky Peak Fire Road and come back, or take it all the way to Rocky Peak as well. This hike is moderately steep and you will get a pretty good workout. This is nothing compared to a strenuous hike like Cucamonga Peak or Mt. Baldy, but it is a good hike to do if you would like to condition yourself for the big summit hikes. The Chumash Trail is out on the open, so, on a hot day, make sure you bring the essentials; water, sunblock, and a hat.

Rock formation near Rocky Peak.

From the Trailhead, head North and you will have the option to go straight(which is the regular trail), or take a right(shortcut) that is quite steep if you want to cut a little time off the hike. The rest of the trail is very easy to follow, and the mileage is shown by a lot of rocks piled up together that are marked. Once you reach the junction with the Rocky Peak fire road at 2.6 miles, take a right(South), and there is an additional 1.3 miles to reach Rocky Peak, but, it will all be on the fire road, as I said. You also have the option to go left at that junction if you would like to explore the surrounding area. There is about an extra 350 feet or so of gain from the junction to Rocky Peak. Once you reach Rocky Peak, there are a few rocks that you can sit on to enjoy the views and take a little rest. Come back the same way you came up, or you have the option to stay on the trail and head down to the parking lot off the Rocky Peak exit. This could be a good option if you come with two cars; park one at the Rocky Peak exit off the 118 West, and then take the other car to the Chumash Trail Trailhead. However you plan this hike, it will be a great trek that will offer great views, interesting rock formations/geology, and provide a pretty good workout.

Danilo & Gyorgyi on a boulder off the Chumash Trail.

Chumash Trail to Rocky Peak Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 1350 feet
  • Round Trip – 7.8 miles
  • Suggested Time – 4 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Season – Any

Gyorgyi with a view of Simi Valley and Beyond from Rocky Peak.

Chumash Trail is in Simi Valley; From Highway 118 West/Simi Valley Freeway in Simi Valley, exit on Yosemite Avenue and make a right(North), and drive 0.4 miles to Flanagan Drive and then turn right. Continue 0.8 miles to the Trailhead at the end of the road. Parking is free.

If you have any questions about this hike, feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

Saddle Peak via Backbone Trail(from Piuma Road)

Saddle Peak is the second highest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains next to Sandstone Peak. This is a great hike as you climb a ridge and get great views as you are ascending. I picked up the Backbone Trail from Piuma Road, and to get to SaddlePeak, it is about 4.4 miles with an elevation gain of about 1750 feet; thus making the round trip about 8.8 miles. The views from Saddle Peak are just as nice, if not, nicer than Sandstone Peak. You get a 360 degree view towards the Pacific Ocean, Ventura County, Downtown LA, and the San Fernando Valley. I was also able to see Mt. Baldy as well. This is a good moderate hike and it will give you a workout, so, make sure you wear a hat, sunblock and have enough water if you do this on a hot day as the first part of this hike is the switchback ascension with exposure to the Sun. You will, though, cross a very shaded creek(Cold Creek), prior to the switchbacks.

View from Saddle Peak towards the Pacific Ocean covered by clouds.

Once you reach the top of the switchbacks, it will be come very flat and you will go through a saddle; then, the trail gradually ascends and will take you to a shaded area with brush and chaparral; this section will give you the feeling that you are in the woods with a sense of isolation. This whole area, beginning from the flat section is a great area to take pictures, and, you will begin to see Saddle Peak from there; take notice of the rocky formations at the distance from the peak. Continue hiking further and you will then come to a junction; if you go straight it will take to you to Stunt Road in 0.3 miles; to get to Saddle Peak, though, take a right at the junction and head up 1.3 miles via switchbacks to the peak. This last part will also be a nice little climb. Once you get to the peak, you will be greeted by a canyon wall(where I saw some people rappelling); and you will notice some caves and big holes in the rocks with different shapes; this is a very interesting rock formation and geology; as I said. You can continue going a bit further on an incline and that will take you to the highest point where you will get dramatic views in any direction. This will be a great area to relax and enjoy your surroundings. Go back the same way you came to Piuma Road, and that will complete the 8.8 mile round trip.

Danilo standing on a rock formation at Saddle Peak.

Saddle Peak(Backbone Trail via Piuma Road) Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain- 1750 feet
  • Round Trip – 8.8 miles
  • Suggested Time – 4 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Season – Any

Nice view towards the sky from Saddle Peak.

Backbone Trail to Saddle Peak is on Piuma Road, near Malibu Creek State Park.  From Pacific Coast Highway, you can take Malibu Canyon Road North for about 4.6 miles, and then take a right on Piuma. In about 1.2 miles, at a sharp turn in the road, look for a small dirt turnout on the left (next to a driveway at the address 25575 Piuma Road.) I parked just before this address at a dirt pullout on the right, and then took the trailhead that started on the left just before the left dirt pullout. From Highway 101, drive South on Las Virgenes for about five miles and turn left on Piuma, and follow the same directions from listed above.

If you have any questions about this hike, feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

Tar Creek Falls

Tar Creek Falls is a very interesting Trek with many deep pools and waterfalls; including a very intriguing one, but, to get to the bottom of it, you will need Special equipment: 190ft rope, 190ft recovery cord, rappelling equipment, 40ft webbing, 2 rappel rings and rock descending and ascending skills. I am just writing about the hike to the end of the line where the only way to go further is to rappel. There are no signs to trailhead, so, it is not the easiest to find, but, I will list directions at the end of this post that will hopefully get you there without getting lost. The actual trailhead is not marked either, but, you will see a wired metal gate just past the trailhead, and that wil indicate that you are going the right way. As you pass the gate, just a little bit further up, you will reach a junction where you will make a left and start a descent to a creek about 2.5 miles down. The very last part of this will be a very steep descent to the creek. Once you reach the creek, head left, but the trail is pretty much gone after that as you will be boulder hopping to reach a few deep pools that you can jump into if you wish. If you do, please do so at your own risk. If you wish to reach the canyon with the main waterfall, continue forward scaling down/up canyon walls and boulders for another mile or so to reach the very end. This part of the trek is very adventurous, and if there is a big rain beforehand, you will probably be swimming. Please use caution and please do this at your own risk and remember that you will have to return the same way you came, so, try to conserve your energy by pacing yourself. The only way from here to get to the bottom of the waterfall is to rappel(which I did not do on this trek, the hike alone was fine for me).

One of the pools in Tar Creek.

I do not recommend this hike during the Summer or when it is very hot. If you do do this on a hot day, make sure you wear a hat, sunblock and bring plenty of water. This is about a 10 mile round trip and just about all of the elevation gain will be hiking back up to the parking lot. This is a great place if you want to take a dip in the pool and do a little backpacking as the creek is very nice, and, like I said, after a good rain, this is a place that you need to see. The only thing about this hike is that once you get to the creek from the trailhead, the trail is pretty much done and it is just a matter of boulder hopping from there on out, so, it is not a type of hike that you will be on a trail the whole time, but, that does not mean that this will not be one heck of an adventure. I really enjoyed it and I plan to go back again after there is more rain. Enjoy Tar Creek, be safe and watch your steps when you begin boulder hopping.

Gyorgyi with a nice view in the background.

Tar Creek Falls Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 1800 feet
  • Round Trip – 10 miles
  • Suggested Time – 5 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Season – Fall to Spring

Danilo and Gyorgyi with Sespe Creek in the background.

Tar Creek Falls is located in the Los Padres National Forest. From the town of Fillmore in Ventura County, take A Street about a mile North to Goodenough Road. Turn right and continue 2.7 miles to Squaw Flat Road on the right (its marked as the Dough Flat Turnoff). Turn right and drive 4.8 miles up the winding mostly dirt mountain road to the unsigned parking pullout on the left. It’s located 1.5 miles beyond the Oak Flat Guard Station. Park in the pullout, display your adventure pass, and take the wide path to the northwest through the metal gate to begin the hike.

If you have any questions about this hike, please feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

Sandstone Peak via Mishe Mokwa Trail

The Sandstone Peak hike via the Mishe Mokwa Trail is another intriguing trek with great views and interesting rock formations(Balance Rock and Split Rock). This is a 6 mile loop with an elevation gain of about 1400 feet. The trail is in good condition and offers quite a bit of shade and great places to take pictures and to just relax(Split Rock). Sandstone Peak is the tallest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains at an elevation of 3,111 feet. The peak has an excellent 360 degree view towards the Pacific Ocean, Ventura County, the San Fernando Valley and the Los Angeles area. This is a very popular spot so parking can be a little difficult and the drive up there is not easy as the road does twist and turn a lot and can get very narrow in certain parts. Once you get to the Trailhead, the signs are very clear and it is very easy to follow the trail to the peak. There is another way to get to Sandstone Peak via the Sandstone Peak Trail, but, that is only about a 1.3 miles to the top and steeper. My recommendation for the best experience to the Sandstone Peak is to take the Mishe Mokwa Trail.

Danilo and Gyorgyi in the Split Rock.

When you begin your hike on the Mishe Mokwa Trail, you will come to a junction about half a mile into it; stay straight on the trail, do not turn left. In 1.3 miles, you will reach Split Rock, this is a very shaded area with picnic tables where you can enjoy snacks and/or drinks with a very peaceful sense. The trail from Split Rock picks up, and at the point, you have 2.4 miles to get to the Sandstone Peak. Once you proceed on the trail, you will reach a junction, turn left. If you go straight, you can reach Balance Rock, but it is not a maintained trail. After you turn left, you will ascend quite a bit more and then it will level out. You will then reach a sign that lists a trail to the Tri-Peaks towards the right, if you wish to go that way. If you do not wish to go towards the Tri-Peaks, then continue on the trail and you will reach a sign that lists the Sandstone Peak at .9 miles away. You will then ascend more and reach a sign to Inspiration Point, which is a great area to relax and get great views. After stopping at Inspiration Point, head back down and continue towards Sandstone Peak; which at this point is about half a mile away, but you will gain about 300 feet in elevation to reach the top. The last part is pretty steep. Once you get to the top, you will have the greatest views in the Santa Monica Mountains, and just like Inspiration Point, there is plaque there as well. There is also a register that you can sign in the plaque. To finish the loop, descend from the peak and connect to the trail. Make a right and go about 2 miles back to the parking lot.

Danilo and the Plaque at the Sandstone Peak.

Sandstone Peak Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 1400 feet
  • Round Trip – 6 miles
  • Suggested Time – 3 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Season – Any Season

View from Sandstone Peak.

Sandstone Peak is in the Santa Monica Mountains. From Westlake Village, exit Westlake Blvd from the 101 North, and make a left(23 South) for several miles as it merges with Mulholland Highway. Contine on the 23 South and then head West(right on Mulholland Highway). Do not go straight to Decker Road. Continue for a about a mile or so on Mulholland Highway and turn right onto Little Sycamore Canyon and it will become Yerba Buena Road as you cross the county line. Continue on Yerba Buena Road for about 4 miles to Trailhead (about a mile before you hit the Circle X Ranch Ranger Station).

If you have any questions about this hike, please leave a comment on this page and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

Cooper Canyon Falls

Cooper Canyon Falls is an intriguing 35 foot waterfall that can be reached via the Burkhart Trail in the Buckhorn Campgound. The hike to the waterfall is a moderate 3.8 mile round trip, and the majority of the elevation gain is hiking back up from the waterfall. The Burkhart Trail does connect with the Pacific Crest Trail if you choose to further explore the area. The trailhead is at an elevation of about 7200 feet and does descend to about 6400 feet at the waterfall. The trail is well maintained and offers lovely views of Cooper Canyon as you are descending down into the creek. There are several places where you can stop and enjoy a snack and/or drinks and since this is is very deep into the wilderness, you do get the sense of isolation. This waterfall is at it’s best in the Fall to the Spring(especially after a good rain). This area does get quite a bit of snow and can get cold, so, if you do go in the late Fall or Winter, make sure that you wear the appropriate clothing.

Gyorgyi with Cooper Canyon Falls in the Background.

To get to Cooper Canyon Falls, follow the trail descending gradually on the side of a canyon. At one point there is a trail leading down to the right; this trail leads to the Burkhart Waterfall, but, to get to Cooper Canyon Falls, do not go this way, instead, stay straight as the trail bends to the left and then switchbacks to the right. You’re now in the Cooper Canyon. The trail will then turn east down Upper Little Rock Creek, passing through a glen of pines and ferns. Continue along the creek, ascending and descending a little bit, to a marked junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Turn right (more like straight ahead) and continue a little ways. On the left you should see the top of a waterfall. Continue a bit further up and on the left there is an unmarked steep trail leading down. (If you cross Little Rock Creek and reach the junction with the Rattlesnake Trail you’ve gone too far). The last 8 feet or so vertically requires a bit of care as it is wet and this part of the descent does have a rope tied to a tree that will help guide you down into bottom of the waterfall(with a nice pond).

Danilo along the trail to Cooper Canyon Falls.

Cooper Canyon Falls Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 800 feet
  • Round Trip – 3.8 miles
  • Suggested Time – 3 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Seasons – Fall to Spring

Nice View from Along the Trek to Cooper Canyon Falls.

Cooper Canyon Falls is in the Angeles National Forest. From the 210 Freeway in La Canada, head northeast on Angeles Crest Highway (CA 2) for 35 miles. You will pass the Mount Waterman Ski Area and turn left into Buckhorn Campground. Drive through the campground for about half a mile following signs for the day-use area. Be sure to display an adventure pass before starting down the Buckhart Trail.

If you plan to do this hike and have any additional questions, please feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

Mount Wilson via Little Santa Anita Canyon

The trail towards Mt. Wilson via Little Santa Anita Canyon has a lot to offer. The trail starts at a 970 elevation and can take you all the way up to Mt. Wilson, which stands at about 5,650 feet. The trail is in good condition and has several stops before the summit of Mt. Wilson is reached(if you choose to go all the way). The trail begins via Mt. Wilson Trail Drive. The first mile and a half of the trail has a moderate climb(where you can see a waterfall at a distance) up to First Water; there you have the option to take the trail to the right and relax down by a creek, or you can continue to the left to the next destination, which is Orchard Camp. Keep in mind that at First Water, you will have gained about 980 feet in elevation. A lot of people hike up to here and then just turn back. If you wish to proceed to Orchard camp, you will gain about another 1020 feet for a total of about 1990 feet in elevation gain so far. Orchard Camp used to be a resort back in the late 1800’s or so to about 1940, and now all that remains are just concrete slabs, but, it is a great resting spot to enjoy drinks or snacks. If you wish to add another 1540 feet of elevation gain to your hike, you can continue another 1.9 miles up to Manzanita Ridge. At this point, you will have gained about 3500 feet in elevation. Manzanita Ridge offers great views towards the San Gabriel Valley and there is a little bench that you can take a nice, well-needed break. From here, you have the option to continue an additional 2.25 miles to the summit of Mt. Wilson. You will gain an additional 1180 feet of elevation for a total of about 4680 in elevation gain. If you do plan to go all the way to the top, or just up to Manzanita Ridge, you should be in great physical condition.

Dusk View Towards the San Gabriel Valley.

There is an option to cut the 2.25 additional hike up to Mt. Wilson. When you head towards Mt. Wilson from Manzanita Ridge, you have the option to stay right and take the regular trail, or stay left and take a trail that has a very steep climb and you can stay on this path until the regular trail crosses paths and that will cut about .5 miles out of the hike, but, it is a very steep climb, and by this point you may be too tired to go this way and you may just want to stick with the regular trail. You will get to a toll road that will take you right and then you come to another road where you will have to go right to the radio towers and at that point, you will reach the top. From Mt. Wilson, you can see all the way out to Catalina and beyond and overall; it has excellent views. This trail does expose you to the Sun, especially in the beginning up to First Water, but it does also offer lots of shade in certain parts of the hike. Whether you decide to go to all the way up to Mt. Wilson, or the previous spots, this will be an enjoyable hike, and even up to First Water, you will get a nice workout. I would say the toughest part of the entire hike up to Mt. Wilson is the section between Orchard Camp and Manzanita Ridge.

View of the San Gabriel Valley near the top of Mt. Wilson.

Mt. Wilson Trail Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 4680 Feet
  • Round Trip – 14 Miles
  • Suggested Time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty – Strenuous
  • Best Season – Late Fall to Late Spring

View Towards the San Gabriel Valley from the Trail.

To reach the Mount Wilson Trailhead via Little Santa Anita Canyon, on the 210 East Foothill Freeway in Arcadia, exit on Santa Anita Avenue and drive north. Turn left on Sierra Madre Blvd. and drive 0.9 miles to Mountain Trail Avenue. Turn right (north) and drive 0.5 mile to where Mountain Trail Ave ends but turns left as Mira Monte Ave. Turn left here. Immediately on your right is Mount Wilson Trail Drive. Park in this area on the street, either on the lower end of Mount Wilson Trail Drive or on Mira Monte. The hike begins by walking up Mount Wilson Trail Drive.

If you plan to do this hike and have any additional questions, please feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

Cucamonga Peak

This is one of the best summit hikes in the San Gabriel Mountians. Cucamonga Peak towers at 8,859 feet and offers breathtaking views. The most popular access to this peak is Via the Icehouse Canyon Trail. This is one of the most challenging hikes in Southern California and should only be attempted by very intermediate to advanced hikers that are in great physical condition. By accessing the trailhead at Icehouse Canyon, you will hike a total of 3.6 miles and gain about 2600 feet to reach the Icehouse Saddle. From there, there are several peaks that you can access as there as signs posted as to which direction your desired peak is. Look for the sign for the Cucamonga Peak and continue an additional 2.4 miles to the summit. After the Icehouse Saddle, for about 0.9  miles, you will gradually ascend and then descend to the Cucamonga/Bighorn Saddle. Once you are there, you will begin the toughest part of the hike as you will begin numerous switchbacks that will take you to the peak. This final 1.5 miles is an elevation gain of about 1500 feet with the last .2 miles or so being very tough. This is a great conditioning hike to prepare for a summit like Mt. Whitney(due to the altitude, distance, elevation gain and steepness).

Danilo with the Inland Empire way down below from the Peak.

We did this hike on 12/10/2011, and there were a few patches of snow and ice towards the latter part of the Icehouse Canyon Trail, but, once we passed the Icehouse Saddle(especially the final 1.5 mile ascencion to the Cucamonga Peak), just about the entire trail was covered with snow and ice. Keep in mind that the ice is very slippery and could be dangerous. Based on that, the best season for this hike would probably be around Late May to early November. Of course, with any summit hike, pacing yourself is very important as well as bringing enough water, snacks, etc. Icehouse Canyon Trail is very popular and it is good to try and get there as early as possible to find a parking spot because the lot can fill up pretty fast. Icehouse Canyon Trailhead is at an elevation of approximately 4,920 feet. Also, the hike from Icehouse Canyon Trailhead to Icehouse Saddle alone is strenuous, so, to even complete that you should be in good physical condition. If you reach the Icehouse Saddle(which is at a 7500 elevation) and you are already tired, I would just call it a day because that will still be a hell of a workout and a 7.2 mile round trip once you get back to the Icehouse Canyon parking lot. So, to cap this off, from the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead to the Icehouse Saddle is 3.6 miles, from there it is an additional 2.4 miles to Cucamonga Peak, therefore you will complete a 12 mile round trip once you get back to the parking lot.

Gyorgyi and Danilo with a view of San Jacinto.

Cucamonga Peak Hiking Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 4200 feet
  • Round Trip – 12 miles
  • Suggested Time – 6-7  hours
  • Difficulty – Very Strenuous
  • Best Seasons – Late Spring to Late Fall

Gyorgyi with a view of the Riverside area towards Mt. San Jacinto.

Cucamonga Peak is located in the Angeles National Forest near Mt. Baldy. To get to the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead, take the I-210 to the Mountain Ave/Mt. Baldy exit, drive 4.3 miles north on Mountain Ave (which becomes Shinn Road). Take a right on Mt. Baldy Road (the end of Shinn Road), and drive 6.4 miles and take a right into the Icehouse Canyon parking lot. On the way drop by the Mt. Baldy Visitor’s Center and pick up the free wilderness permit required for the Cucamonga Wilderness. A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 per year) is required for parking at the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead.

If you plan to do this hike and have any additional questions, please feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com