I was really looking forward to getting back to the San Gabriel Mountains, off of the Angeles Crest Highway specifically, and this hike did not disappoint. The trails through Colby Canyon and up to Strawberry Peak just re-opened. The views are awesome and I am now able to recognize many of the peaks and landmarks in the area.
I parked in the upper Switzer parking lot. This is where I would start the loop that would take me through Colby Canyon up to Josephine Saddle, over to Josephine Peak and then down a fire road back to Angeles Crest Highway.
I had to walk down the road a half mile to the Colby Canyon Trailhead. The high peak in this photo is Strawberry Peak.
There are a few water crossings along the way. I began to climb up along the canyon wall. I have not hiked this trail before but I think it’s in really good shape, especially for a trail that’s been closed for years. Photo 3 – Looking back down Colby Canyon. Photo 4 – Swirling Yellow Flowers
Photo 1 – To reach the connector trail I had to climb to the top of the ridge shown here. Photo 2 – On zoom, snow on the mountain across the road.
I reach the ridgeline, marked by a water tank and these two yucca plants. They look a bit like a flying saucer and two aliens.
At the top there is a T-junction. To the right the trail heads toward Strawberry Potrero. To the left is the connector trail that leads to the Josephine Peak Fire Road. The connector trail is in the shade. This is where I first encountered snow on the ground. This is also the first area where I came across toxic poodle dog bush, quite a bit of it actually. Quickly I reached the fire road, exiting the trail at a hairpin turn. To the right the trail leads 1.5 miles up to Josephine Peak.
The snow was thickest on the fire road up to the peak.
Tracks in the snow
The small shack on top of Josephine Peak comes into view. The very top is marked by an antenna. Photo 4 – The marker at the top says Mt. Lowe? Somebody made a mistake and I know it’s not me. This is Josephine Peak.
Awesome 360 degree views. Photo 1 – A nice shot of Strawberry Peak. Photo 2 – The sharp, high peak in the middle is San Gabriel Peak. The antennae just below San Gabriel Peak on the right mark Mount Disappointment. The tall antennae to the left of San Gabriel Peak mark Mount Wilson. Photo 3 – On zoom, Mount Wilson Observatory
Photo 1 – Way in the distance, Downtown LA. Photo 2 – The second ridge is part of the Verdugo Mountains. The third ridge is Griffith Park. If you look closely you can make out the antenna that stands next to the HOLLYWOOD Sign.
More views, the antennae on top of Mount Lukens.
Photo 4 – Zoom on the snow capped mountains in the distance – beautiful!
A little closer shot of Strawberry Peak
There were many butterflies at the top of Josephine Peak. I’ve seen this type of thing before in a couple of high areas. These little guys would fly in pairs, dancing on the wind and spinning around each other as they shot straight up in the air. After some research I found that this is has something to do with a mating ritual. Photo 2 – Poodle Dog Bush Photo 3 – This Yucca looks like an ostrich.
The views of Strawberry Peak from the fire road are great.
At the end of the fire road I reached a paved road right next to the Angeles Crest Highway and across from the Clear Creek Fire Station. I crossed the road to the information center to pick up a half mile long trail that leads back to the Switzer area where I parked. Another great day of hiking.