Don’t know why I took so long to hike this trail which sits right next to Mount Wilson and across from Strawberry Peak. I could see so much here, from the numerous peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains all the way down to LA, the Verdugo Mountains, Griffith Park, the entire Santa Monica Mountain Range and much more. It’ is also great to be able to look at old photos of these peaks and get them all straight in my head, like finally solving a long nagging riddle. I now know which peak is Mount Lowe, which is Mount Markham, and so on. Can’t wait to get back here on a clear winter day.
Driving Directions: From the 210 Freeway, exit on CA-2/Angeles Crest Highway. Drive north14 or so miles to Red Box Station and a junction with Mount Wilson Rd. Take a right and drive 2 miles to Eaton Saddle. There is parking on both sides of the road.
I was treated to views of Eaton Canyon and the fantastic Mount Markham.
Soon thereafter I came to Markham Saddle and it’s multiple trail options. The trail on the far right leads up to San Gabriel Peak and Mount Disappointment. The trail straight ahead is a continuation of the fire road and would be my return route. To the left of that is the trail to Mount Lowe, the only trail that’s signed. And to the far left is a short trail which leads to the top of Mount Markham.
The trail rose above the fire road. I looked down into Bear Canyon and over to Mount Lukens in the distance.
Stopping for a moment, I enjoyed the immediate landscape – San Gabriel Peak and Mount Wilson.
After staying the course for awhile I followed another sign pointing the way toward the top of Mount Lowe.
I reached the signed, 0.1 mile spur which leads to the top. There is a plaque on top, as well as a bench, a “cage” (not really sure what it is) and several viewing scopes identifying prominent landmarks.
A huge mountain range floats on distant clouds.
These scopes were quite helpful in confirming the locations of Mount Markham and Mount Harvard. They have no glass inside, just hollow metal tubes.
Panorama from Mount Disappointment to Mount Harvard
City Hall can barely been seen, middle far left of the photo
Photo 1 – The Verdugo Mountains on the right, with Griffith Park behind on the left Photo 2 – close-up on Mount Lee, home to the HOLLYWOOD Sign
On the Verdugo Mountains, Hostetter Fire Road runs runs right up to the ranges high point, Verdugo Peak.
Photo 1 – The previously hiked Josephine Peak Photo 2 – The soon to be hiked Mount Lukens Photo 3 – I even noticed my old friend Oat Mountain, high point of the Santa Susanna Mountain Range. Photo 4 – In the background, the flat peak on the left, I believe, is Vetter Mountain. The two peaks to it’s right, I believe, are Mount Mooney and Devil Peak.
After taking in all those views I headed down to the junction where I first took the Mount Lowe spur. I followed the sign for West Trail. Photo 4 – West Trail, 1.3 miles in length, is a just bit rougher than what I had been hiking earlier. I had to do a a little dance to get around some of the Poodle Dog Bush growing beside the trail. This evil plant lures children from their parents with it’s soft, cuddly appearance and sweet, grapy fragrance. The plant isn’t really evil but it is toxic, causing a poison oak-like rash. I’ve been zapped before and it wasn’t pleasant.
The trail got a little narrow in places but no big deal.
At the end of West Trail I reached the fire road, which would return me to Markham Saddle. But first I wanted to head down to Mount Lowe Trail camp and explore the former site of Ye Alpine Tavern, active between 1895 and 1936. The tavern marked the last stop on the Mount Lowe Railway. Although I could have taken the road down to the camp, I took a parallel trail instead which is part of the historic property. I passed the ruins of a housekeeper’s cottage. After coming to the road once again I turned right and hiked into Mount Lowe Camp, blissfully deserted at the time. There are several plaques explaining where the tavern stood, as well as other interesting facts. It’s fun to look at the old pictures and line up the ruins that now occupy the area. I ate lunch at a picnic table beneath the shade and tried to turn-off my mind for awhile.
On the way back I took the fire road which heads west for about a mile. At a sharp bend in the road, a signed trail continues straight and the road curves back toward Mount Lowe. Stick with the road, which meets Markham Saddle in just over a mile.
Markham Saddle, about a mile away.
Mount Disappointment and San Gabriel Peak again