Mt. Lowe: Cross Country Edition

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The group shotMy oh my, this was something. This was put together at the last minute since I canceled the original plan of Roundtop and Hillyer due to extreme weather. The plan was to get up to Echo Mtn then onto Inspiration Point. From there we would head on to Mt. Lowe and then possibly hit up San Gabriel Peak and Mt. Disappointment. The last 2 we didn’t do because we started at 9:30am.

We started at the top of Lake Ave at the normal Sam Merrill Trailhead. But instead of taking this 2.5 mile trail up to Echo, we went north and took the nearest ridge to the west of Echo Mtn. Once off the road, the gain is immediate. It reminded me a lot like Rattlesnake Peak where the incline just starts and doesn’t relent until you’re halfway up. This fire trail was created awhile ago during the last brush fire in the area. And now it seems that someone? maintains the cut out steps leading up.

Here’s a video taken by Ofir on his way up the ridge. It’s as bad as it sounds…

This trail continues on with only about a total of 150′ worth of moderate gain. The rest is just steep. But the really steep portion comes at the end. Total up to the road is about 1200′ in a little less than 1.5 miles!

Scramble upwards

This trail dumps you off at the Mt. Lowe fire road. Heading north along the road for about 200′ takes you to the Echo Mtn. trail. We skipped Echo Mtn. because we’ve all been here so many times before. Up Castle Canyon trail we went. This was pretty uneventful. Easier though.

Crowded at Inspiration Point

We had a 15 minute stop here just to grab a bite to eat, chat a little, and just relax. The wind wasn’t terrible. Visibility towards LA was zero because of the clouds slowly rolling in. But at our stay here, 20+ WTC members made their way here and took a break as well. That made for a crowded place.

From Inspiration Point we scouted out our route. We would be taking the ridge that heads straight up to Mt. Lowe. It’s pretty visible and looks like it’s been used a lot lately. We followed the road until we got to the trailhead up. But we skipped the trailhead and made our own path along the ridge which did eventually meet up with the trail. We kept on the ridge though and only used the trail for a short portion.

After leaving the last trail portion, it was all steep and loose rock from here on out. There was really no visible use trail, so we just had to follow the ridge up which isn’t hard to do since it narrows a bit. After slipping and sliding a bit, we came to the really loose chute.

This was pretty extreme. I’m glad the recent rains moistened up the dirt which helped with the traction. But we took this chute and connected back to a more stable rock hopping route until we finally got to the top. The following two videos are on the descent up. This one is heading up over still bearable terrain and then looking back towards Inspiration Point.

The next one is heading up the chute. This was just loose dirt and rocks. The norm for this part is one step forward, two steps back.

Mt. Lowe itself was pretty cool. We were in the clouds and while we were there, and it started to snow a bit. That added a little more excitement to it.

I haven’t taken the western trail down before. It’s pretty nice. Lots of good views of Bear Canyon, Mt. Disappointment, and San Gabriel Peak. The trail winds its way down until you get back to the fire road. Right after leaving the top of Lowe, the skies opened up and we got some sun and a nice view of Mt. Disappointment. Here we took some pictures and just played with the snow a little.

We took the road south back to the the Idlehour trail junction is. Instead of taking the Upper Sam Merrill Trail though, or going back to Inspiration Point, we went up to Inspiration Peak. This was a nice little uphill climb that got the legs burning again.

We weren’t satisfied here though. Sure we could head back down to Inspiration Point and take Castle Canyon down, but what fun would that be? Instead we followed the ridge west along and old use trail. It looked like it hasn’t been used in quite a while, so we got to do some bushwhacking which is always pleasant. But not in shorts though.

Well, we went as far west as we could until the ridge started sloping downwards. This should have been a good sign, but the brush at this point was impassable. So we just decided to catch the trail on the north side. This was exciting. No path, lots of loose everything, hail starting to come down, branches, slippery logs…just imagine a steep descent through all of this.

We finally got back onto a trail and took this all the way back to Echo Mtn. This trail is ok. The views are nice, but otherwise, it’s pretty dull. We connected back to the Sam Merrill Trail where we ran into a loitering group of WTC’ers and a Meetup friend.

We hung out here for a good 10 minutes or so exchanging Goldfish that Andy brought. Oh those are addicting! Through some miscommunication, we left here rather abruptly and tried to jog to catch up to another member. But he went off for other reasons unbeknownst to us. So some of us jogged down most of the 2.5 miles back to the cars to catch him. Oh well, that was a good way to end the hike.

Some pics from the day:

Up the chuteMt. DisappointmentThe view from the Upper Sam Merrill trail

Pictures from the rest of the day: My album

Reviews from the Meetup site: Meetup site

Check out Zé’s review. He’s got a lot of cool vids from the ascents: Zé’s report

Elevation Profile
Speed Profile

# Latitude Longitude Elevation Distance Time Avg
1 N 34° 12' 12.09" W 118° 07' 50.74" 521 m 0.000 mi 0s -
2 N 34° 12' 38.92" W 118° 07' 45.44" 821 m 1.001 mi 48m 20s 1.24 mph
3 N 34° 13' 04.31" W 118° 07' 23.39" 1029 m 1.005 mi 35m 50s 1.68 mph
4 N 34° 13' 04.31" W 118° 07' 05.89" 1026 m 0.996 mi 19m 40s 3.04 mph
5 N 34° 13' 08.46" W 118° 06' 35.51" 1302 m 1.003 mi 35m 20s 1.70 mph
6 N 34° 13' 39.69" W 118° 06' 23.35" 1498 m 1.000 mi 51m 00s 1.18 mph
7 N 34° 14' 01.15" W 118° 06' 41.57" 1563 m 1.003 mi 1h 13m 00s 0.82 mph
8 N 34° 13' 28.22" W 118° 06' 34.44" 1367 m 0.996 mi 24m 50s 2.41 mph
9 N 34° 13' 30.61" W 118° 07' 14.00" 1337 m 1.003 mi 53m 20s 1.13 mph
10 N 34° 13' 07.93" W 118° 07' 12.45" 1135 m 0.994 mi 24m 30s 2.43 mph
11 N 34° 12' 53.61" W 118° 07' 23.94" 942 m 1.005 mi 30m 40s 1.97 mph
12 N 34° 12' 24.76" W 118° 07' 21.48" 756 m 1.000 mi 20m 20s 2.95 mph
13 N 34° 12' 14.38" W 118° 07' 43.42" 564 m 0.994 mi 19m 00s 3.14 mph
14 N 34° 12' 14.37" W 118° 07' 50.23" 552 m 0.124 mi 3m 31s 2.12 mph
      Summary 5906 ft 12.124 mi 7h 19m 21s 1.66 mph

The total feet is way off due to the changes in the barometric pressure. Total gain is about 4800′ not 5900′!

Related posts:

Big Bad Iron - Iron Mountain #1
Double Hike: Altadena Exploration
South Mt. Hawkins via Pigeon Ridge

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This entry was posted on Sunday, February 8th, 2009 at 2:35 pm and is filed under Trail Information, Trip Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Mt. Lowe: Cross Country Edition”


Miriam June 19th, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Great report. Very helpful for my first hike to Mt. Lowe tomorrow via the steep route up. Great video by Ofir going up to the ridge. Now I know what I will be looking at before I get there. Thank you for the report.


Chenendez September 28th, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Tough indeed. But toughest and most dangerous is right before the fire road. Where it’s 60 degree scramble with big dropoffs. A blunder, if not death, least serious injury. This course not for beginners.

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