The greatest delight of spending some of my time in Pasadena, LA since autumn 2016 has been the chance to walk, most weekends, in the beautiful wildernesses of the San Gabriel Mountains. Here are some photos and descriptions of the walks my partner James Anderson and I have done together. We didn’t plan this page from the start of our hiking adventures, so we didn’t necessarily record all the information that would have been most helpful if you want to try them yourself, but maybe they’ll serve as appetisers nonetheless.
Where we give hike numbers, they’re from the classic hiking book Trails of the Angeles, by John W. Robinson and Dough Christiansen (we’re using the 9th edition). We give the metadata for each hike, but you can find descriptions and route instructions in the book. We also often find Modern Hiker a useful complement to the book, often providing more detailed descriptions than the book does. You can also find large-scale (1 inch to half a mile) maps for some of the hikes (those which coincide with the Pacific Crest Trail) via the Halfmile Project (you want California Section D).
- Smith Mountain - A short and sweet hike through the Middle High Country, mostly easy with a fierce final climb to the splendid views from the summit.
- Anza Borrego Desert wind caves - A desert ramble on the southern edge of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park, culminating in fantastical sandstone wind caves.
- Bridge to Nowhere - Up the East Fork of the San Gabriel River to a gold rush folly.
- Mill Creek to Pacifico Mountain - An easy PCT and fire road loop with westerly, northerly, and southerly views.
- Crystal Lake to South Mount Hawkins - Valley and desert views and a secluded ridge.
- Dawson Saddle to Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins - Two high peaks with very little serious climbing.
- Placerita Canyon to Wilson Saddle - A genuine ridge walk, with lots of short-and-steep up and downs, and sweeping views on all sides across the north-west corner of the San Gabriels.
- Switzer’s picnic area to Arroyo Seco trail - Short, sweet, and quickly accessible from Pasadena.
- Burkhart trail: Devil’s Punchbowl to Pleasant View ridge - A mixture of desert and alpine terrain on the north side of the San Gabriels.
- Josephine Peak - Steady fire road with sea views.
- Mendenhall Ridge - A short fire road stroll in bleak burnt backcountry.
- The Hollywood sign - A nice route up through Griffith Park to the summit of Mount Lee, aka where the sign lives.
- Gaviota Hot Springs and Peak - A short and simple peak hike near Santa Barbara, complete with stunning sea views and disgusting hot springs.
- Mt Islip, Little Jimmy Campground, and Mt Hawkins - Sweeping north and south views from the San Gabriel Crest, with detours for two peaks.
- The Verdugos: Beaudry Motorway loop - An easy introduction to the Verdugo micro-range, on looping service roads with two peaks and LA/Burbank views.
- Dawn Mine - A smattering of history close to home.
- Wildwood and Stough Canyons - A Burbank loop: tough on the way up, gentle thereafter.