Mount Hillyer

Last week Southern California was in the grips of a heat wave so I decided not to hike.  Instead I drove up the Angeles Crest Highway and into the San Gabriel Mountains, stopping at various landmarks, campsites and trailheads so I could better familiarize myself with the area.  The first 30 or so photos are from that drive.  I come back this week to Mount Hillyer and a great hike on beautiful day.  The conditions were perfect for me, cool and clear with swirling clouds decorating the sky.  The trails leading to the top of Mount Hillyer are well maintained and, for the most part, easy to follow.  There’s a real mountainous feel to the area with it’s pine trees and clean, crisp air.  This lollipop shaped hike is only moderately difficult.

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3   Driving up CA-2 last week.  There are numerous turnouts along the road with awesome mountain views.


Looking back down toward Pasadena.

5     6     7   Photo 3 – At Red Box Station there is an American Indian cultural center.

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Photo 1 – Looking back at Mount Wilson  Photo 2 – I believe the two peaks in the center of the picture are known as Twin Peaks.

10     11     12   Photo 1 – I stopped at the trailhead for Vetter Mountain Fire Lookout, which burned down in 2009.


Looking back down the road from Cloudburst Summit.

14     15   I pulled over and checked out the ski lift for Mount Waterman.  It’s right off of the side of the road.

16   Williamson Rock?

17     18   There are a couple of unlit tunnels along the road.

19     20   I made a quick stop at the Jarvi Memorial Vista.

21     22   Photo 1 – I noticed these stone steps on the right hand side of the road just after Islip Saddle.  They lead to Cortelyou Spring, according to the guide I was following.

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I stopped at Dawson Saddle to get a picture of the snow on a nearby mountain.

25   I stopped at Vincent Gap, at the foot of Mount Baden-Powell.


And then a stop at the picturesque Inspiration Point with it’s jaw dropping view of Mount Baden-Powell.

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Photo 1 – I believe this is Iron Mountain.  Photo 2 – Pine Mountain and Mount Baldy from Inspiration Point.


A bit of snow on Mount Baldy – how beautiful.

31   My final stop was Big Pines, where stands this structure which looks like castle turret.  This looked to be the last stop on the road that had a trailhead – 55 miles from the beginning of the Angeles Crest Highway.

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Now on to my Mount Hillyer hike.  I exited CA-2 at the Chilao Visitor Center turn-off, which is about a mile up the road from the similarly named Chilao Campground turn-off.  Either road will lead to the trailhead.  I drove past the visitor center on my right and then parked at the trailhead for Silver Moccasin Trail.  There are many awesome looking trees on this area.

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The ascent is pretty easy.  Photo 2 – I forgot to bring my good map with me but I assume this is Strawberry Peak.

38     39   The trail is very easy to follow most of the time.  Sometimes, however, the trail disappeared for a few yards as it passed over solid rock.


41     42   There were a lot of striped sticks lying around.  I jumped back a couple of times thinking I was about to step on a snake.

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47       48   After about a mile I reached Horse Flat Campground.  I followed the trail marked for Mount Hillyer on the left.  If you love exploring big boulders then this is a good hike for you.  Photos 3 – 5  I exited the trail for a few minutes to check things out.  I’d love to have that lounge chair shaped rock in my backyard.


Amazing looking ridge, not sure what it is.

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I did lose the trail once and found myself at a dead end.  I backtracked up the hill and somehow found myself on the trail again.  I’m not sure where I left the trail and equally unsure as to where I got back on.

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64   Photo 4Downed tree across the trail  Photo 5 – More trail-obscuring sandstone.

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69   The trail finally levels off and leads to a nice flat area on top.  There is no prominent peak on the top of Mount Hillyer, but I was told by a Sierra Club hiker that the rock formation in photo 2 has been named the official peak.  It is to the left of the trail.  There is a small Sierra Club canister containing a small register found on Mount Hillyer’s peak.


View to the northwest from Mount Hillyer

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The trail continues on after the peak, all downhill from the top.

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Not too far from the peak, the trail intersects with Santa Clara Divide Road.  I ate lunch here.

81     82     83   I took a right onto the paved road and followed it for about a half mile.  I then turned right and hiked into Horse Flats Campground.  Another half mile and I was at the back of the campground where it intersects with the trail I came up on.


85     86   This tree looks like it’s walking down the hill.

87     88     89   I sat down at one of the picnic tables in the campground.  The silence was fantastic.  No airplanes, no traffic noise, no blaring stereos, barking dogs, screaming people, etc.  Just the wind through the trees and the chirping birds.  Bliss.  Awesome day, awesome trail.  Thank you Mount Hillyer.



  • Hi. Really enjoy your web site. So many hikes!

    We plan on doing this hike tomorrow. Should be a beautiful day.



  • Thanks for the positive energy! This was probably my favorite hike off of the Angeles Crest Highway. I’m sure you’ll have a great time. Curious if you’ll run into any snow.
    Take Care,
    Silent Hiker

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