Distance: about 10 miles (16.1 km)
Time: 6 hours including a long lunch (sorry, don’t remember quite how long!)
Elevation gain: about 2,200 feet (670 metres)
Difficulty: terrain-wise, easy; navigation-wise, easy; fitness-wise, easy to moderate
Drive: 1 hour 5 minutes (45 miles) from old town Pasadena, north on the 210 and up the 2 to Islip Saddle
Trails of the Angeles hike no. 77 and part of 79 (just from Windy Gap up Mt Hawkins)
A free PDF Halfmile Map, California Section D, p. 5, covers the whole route
This Middle High Country is glorious, with desert views drawing the eye one way, mountain vistas over the San Gabriels Front Range pulling it the other, and light forest shading the way along the San Gabriel Crest in between. The main route here is part of the Pacific Crest Trail, and makes you long to do more of it. (On other occasions, we did: here’s a route from Dawson Saddle to Throop and Hawkins, and here’s one from Islip all the way along to Baden-Powell.)
The trail starts across the road from the car park, with desert views opening up straightaway.
Then you pass into sun-dappled woodland…
And after 2.5 miles (4 km), mostly amongst the trees, you get to Little Jimmy Trail Camp. Then there’s half a mile of hairpins up to Windy Gap, a junction where you also have the option to continue south down to Crystal Lake. Instead take a hard right to take the 0.8 mile (1.3 km) Islip Ridge Trail northwest up to the summit of Mount Islip.
Here you can admire the San Gabriel Reservoir to the south…
…drink a cold Coke in a ramshackle cottage…
…imagine opening your curtains to this…
…and stand on this:
Then retrace your steps back down to the Gap, and go straight on (east), following the PCT about 2 miles (3.2 km) to climb steadily towards Mount Hawkins.
The trail overshoots the peak and then doubles back and up to reach the top. We stopped before the top to find a secluded picnic spot, with gorgeous southerly and easterly views which I failed to do justice to in my sketchpad.
Then it’s time to celebrate the second peak of the day.
And then retrace your steps into the setting sun.
And, if you happen to be someone whose nickname (at least for one group of friends) is Jimmy, stop near the end to take an embarrassing photo or two.
Bit of an afternoon photoshoot for Ping, nosing her way towards the long-shut section of the 39 down to Crystal Lake.