Strawberry Peak

This trail has been on my list for a long time.  I had been dissuaded by descriptions of narrow stretches with scary drop-offs.  I had hiked right near here, up to San Gabriel and Josephine Peaks, and finally I gave Strawberry Peak a go.

1     2   Truth be told, Strawberry Peak was my Plan B for the day.  I had planned to hike just east of the peak on Barley Flats Trail and do Strawberry Peak next week.  When I arrived at the Barley Flats trailhead I found it quite overgrown.  After searching awhile for the trail I found it was still closed from the 2009 Station Fire.  I decided to move on.
3     4     6   I made my way over to Red Box Station and parked.  I crossed the road and began my hike.  The trail is very easy to follow.  While there is another trail that connects with this one, it is overgrown and blocked by a row of small rocks just as the main trail makes a sharp turn up into the hills.  After climbing for a bit, the trail leveled off and I came to a junction.  There are some wooden poles sticking out of the ground on an overgrown trail that goes left.  That’s not the trail you want.  Take the the scary looking, hill hugging trail to the right.

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Photo 2 – Twisty CA-2 below the trail.

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It’s a little hard to make out the trail but it’s there, etched into the side of the mountain.  I don’t love narrow trails with steep drops so this was something of a challenge.  Fortunately the trail was in excellent condition, free from washouts or other obstacles.  From here the trail is relatively flat all the way to the turn-off for the peak.

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Looking across the way, I could make out some familiar sights.  From left to right, Mount Wilson, San Gabriel Peak and Mount Disappointment.  Photo 2 – Close-up on San Gabriel Peak and Mount Disappointment, which I hiked to about a year and a half ago.

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13     14   The trail continues on, skirting the edge.

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I turned a corner and spotted Josephine Peak.  To the left of Josephine, Mount Lukens and its distinctive antennae also came into view.

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And finally Strawberry Peak entered the picture.  Hikers have to travel right over the ridge to get to the top.

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I reached the junction for the fire break that leads up to the top.  The good news, I no longer had to deal with the near vertical drop-offs.  The bad news, the fire break to the peak is steep and rough.  There is a series of sometimes very steep hills to climb.  There is a bit of scrambling involved as well.  Photo 4 – Looking back down the first hill.

22     Look to the east, where I was supposed to hike this day.

23     25     24   I would recommend wearing long pants and long sleeves, which I didn’t.  I was scratched and stabbed numerous times on the way up.

26     27     28   The trail to the top is something of a trickster.  There are numerous false peaks.  Just when I knew I had reached the top I was met with another little saddle and another steep hill.

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Yes, I made it to the top!  Damn, another hill!

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Photo 2 – I found these plants interesting.  The leaves had a wet, oily appearance.  Photo 4 – As my handle Silent Hiker implies, I like it quiet on the trail.  But on rare occasion I am overcome with emotion, as I was when I reached the final peak, marked by this red thermos with a register inside.  I couldn’t help but let out a victory cry after such a tough climb.

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From Strawberry Peak, a nice view of Mount Wilson, San Gabriel Peak and Mount Disappointment.

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LA covered with beautiful clouds.

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39   And right across is Josephine Peak, shown in progressively closer shots.  I stood atop that peak not long ago looking over at the peak I now stood upon.

40   Close-up of Mount Lukens

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Tough but special day.

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