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.
Looking back down toward Pasadena.
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.
Looking back down the road from Cloudburst Summit.
I stopped at Dawson Saddle to get a picture of the snow on a nearby mountain.
And then a stop at the picturesque Inspiration Point with it’s jaw dropping view of Mount Baden-Powell.
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.
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.
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.
The ascent is pretty easy. Photo 2 – I forgot to bring my good map with me but I assume this is Strawberry Peak.
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.
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.
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
The trail continues on after the peak, all downhill from the top.
Not too far from the peak, the trail intersects with Santa Clara Divide Road. I ate lunch here.
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.
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.