Sneak a Peak!
Hike to San Gabriel Peak in Southern California
Don’t have all day, but still wanna summit a summit? Then summit the San Gabriels’ namesake. It’s a 3.5-mile out-and-back trek that climbs over 1,000 feet to 6,146-foot San Gabriel Peak.
Park at the dirt lot (both sides of the road, no Adventure Pass needed!) at the Eaton Saddle Trailhead and start your hike just past the gate. Interpretive signs give a brief history of Mount Lowe and incredible views of the valley and Mount Markham. You’ll wind next to a sheer cliff for just over half a mile before reaching the Mueller Tunnel (constructed by the USFS in 1942). Pass through it to reach a four-way trail junction. To your left are trails to the Mount Lowe Summit (upper) and Campground (lower) and to your right—passing a water tank—is the trail to San Gabriel Peak.
This narrow track hugs the mountain wall and gets quite steep at times, especially in the final stretch—which is a gut-busting ascent. It’s good to rest under the occasional tree throughout this intense mile that delivers remarkable views of the canyon and other peaks, notably, Mount Lowe, as well as new vistas to the northern part of Angeles National Forest. At the T-junction, turn right. (If you turn left, it adds about half a mile to your hike and the path leads to Mount Disappointment, named for a few adventurers who reached the peak before the higher San Gabriel summit, which was apparently kind of a bummer, although the views here are great, too).
When you reach the elevation placard, a message box, and a long bench, you’ll know you’ve made it! San Gabriel Peak is just a yard shorter than Strawberry Peak (which has the distinction of being the tallest mountain in the front range of the San Gabriels), but the 360-degree views are among the best: You can see Mount Lowe directly in front of you, as well as Mount Wilson (find the observatory!) and Mount Baldy to the east. The vistas roll out to Pasadena’s cityscape and further toward the downtown skyline, Griffith Park, even the ocean on a clear day.
SUNSET TIP: We recommend going around sunset for cooler temperatures and those golden hour colors on the way down. Just be sure to give yourself enough twilight to get back to your car.
To get to the Eaton Saddle trailhead, take the I-210 the CA-2 North. Stay on the Angeles Crest Highway for 14 miles and turn right on the Mt Wilson Red Box Road (at the Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center and lot). After just over 2 miles, the road will be flanked by dirt lots on either side (park at either, no Adventure Pass required) and a gate on your right—this is the Eaton Saddle trailhead. Dog-friendly!
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