Hike to the Vetter Lookout in the San Gabriels
Epic lookout ahead! And a brand-new lookout tower, too. This 3-mile (round-trip) hike takes you to the 5,908-foot summit of Vetter Mountain and its recently finished lookout, where you get some of the best views the San Gabriels have to offer, including huge vistas over Big Tujunga Canyon.
Start at the Charlton Flats picnic area (follow signs for the Vetter Mountain trailhead and drive to the end of the paved road or park in spaces along the way). There are two trailheads here next to some picnic tables and a restroom - the fire road is the Silver Moccasin trail, and the singletrack just before it is the Vetter Mountain trailhead.
Take a deep breath under the pines and start hiking, gradually ascending towards your summit destination. Stay on the narrow trail, as poodle-dog bush grew out of the 2009 fire and still exists in these parts. You’ll cross two fire roads (one is Silver Moccasin) before reaching the final ascent, marked by manzanita bush lining the trail.
The views have now arrived. And they only get better! You’ll soon reach the fire road that takes you to the 5,908-foot summit—and a phenomenal lookout over Big Tujunga Canyon. The original lookout was built in 1937, but sadly got burned in the 2009 Station Fire.
The new lookout is completed, and worth seeing even though it isn’t opened yet for the public to go inside. For now, thank the volunteers of the Angeles National Forest Fire Lookout Association who survey during fire season, and enjoy the surrounding panoramic beauty: Prominent Strawberry Peak is to the west, Mount Waterman and Twin Peaks are north, the peaks of Wilson and San Gabriel are southwest, while Baldy is far east. You could spend hours up here scanning the forest, especially if you brought binoculars. Vetter visit!
To get to the Vetter Mountain trailhead, take the CA-2 Angeles Crest Highway 23 miles from the La Cañada entrance. At the Charlton Flats picnic area, turn left and follow the road to the end (ignore the fire road that is an alternate route to Vetter). Adventure Pass required. Bring a face-covering to use in case you can’t get physical distance on sections of the trail, as well as plenty of your own water. Dog-friendly!
Lookout photos courtesy of The Angeles National Forest Fire Lookout Association.
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