San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Hiking
The newly formed and protected San Gabriel Mountains National Monument offers tons of epic hiking trails for all levels. The San Gabriel Mountains offer some of the greatest biodiversity in the country, and are within an hour of Los Angeles. Don’t forget to leave your parks pass on your dashboard when you do these hikes.
|Mt Hillyer Trail Hike||6.5||Moderate||Chilao Campground||1240||Y|
|Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat||9||Hard||Arcadia||2740||Y|
|Potato Mountain Hike (Angeles National Forest)||4.5||Moderate||Claremont||1270||Y|
|Hike Mt Waterman & Twin Peaks||11.5||Hard||Pearblossom||3700||Y|
|Switzer Falls Hike||4||Moderate||Altadena||690||Y|
|Strawberry Peak Hike||7.2||Moderate||Azusa||1720||Y|
|Mt Wilson Trail Hike||14.5||Hard||Sierra Madre||5640||N|
|Big Horn Mine Trail Hike||4||Easy||Valyermo||840||Y|
|Hike Mt Baldy on the Bear Canyon Trail||13||Very Hard||Mt Baldy||5650||Y|
|Hike the Three T’s Trail||16||Hard||Mt Baldy||5110||Y|
|Cucamonga Peak Hike||12||Hard||Mt Baldy||4200||Y|
|Mt Wilson Hike From Chantry Flat||14.5||Hard||Sierra Madre||4600||Y|
|Mt Baldy Hike||11||Hard||Mt Baldy||3990||Y|
|Mount Baden-Powell Hike||8.3||Hard||Vincent Gap||2800||Y|
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Hiking Tips
- Know how to hike in the mountains and check for snow on the trail before you head out.
- When the higher peaks have snow, lower altitude peaks generally don’t but have nice views of the snowy peaks.
- It can get very buggy in the warmer months, bring insect repellant and a head net.
- CA-2, which runs through the heart of the monument, can close in spots. Check the CalTrans site for closures.
- Hikes that are easy to get to and not to far often get folks who don’t know hiking etiquette. It’s not uncommon to see graffiti on the trail in some places.
- Mt Baldy
- Switzer Falls
- Cucamonga Peak
- Switzer Falls
- Potato Mountain
- Big Horn Mine
The Mt Hillyer Trail hike takes you on a mellow summit loop through a little-hiked area of Angeles National Forest. The climb isn’t tough, the distance isn’t extreme, and that’s part of why it’s great. You’ll hike through the old stomping ground of 1860s horse bandits, complete with a hidden pasture and boulder hideout. And at the summit of Mt Hillyer, you’re rewarded with sweeping views of the eastern San Gabriels. Oh, and there are two different summits with two different views. So you got that going for you, which is nice.
Chilao Campground, CA - 6.5 miles, Moderate
The Mt Zion loop hike is a great option for those that have hiked from Chantry Flat before, maybe to Mt Wilson, but want something a little more off the beaten path. On this loop, I’ll take you on the Upper Gabrielino Trail, then on the historic Mt Zion Trail, built in 1896 and once the main trail into the area, then up to Mt Zion for panoramic views, and finally back to the start on the Upper Winter Creek Trail. And while there might be crowds on the nearby trails, this loop route on Angeles National Forest’s secondary trails offers peace and tranquility.
Arcadia, CA - 9 miles, Hard
For a quick mountain fix without driving into the mountains, try the Potato Mountain hike, right at the beginning of Angeles National Forest. It’s a moderate climb through some beautiful oak forests. The hike ends at the Potato Mountain summit, which offers views of the high peaks in Angeles NF, including Mt Baldy. And of course, there are the potatoes that everyone decorates and brings to the summit. It’s a fun hike that especially great for beginners who want to train or get a taste for the bigger mountain peaks.
Claremont, CA - 4.5 miles, Moderate
A hike to Mt Waterman and the Twin Peaks offers rugged and remote beauty, well-groomed trails, panoramic views of the major summits in Angeles National Forest, and an absence of major crowds. This guide shows you how to do the popular 11.5 mile “reverse lollipop” route to Twin Peaks and then back over Mt Waterman, but you can also just do a shorter 5.5 mile hike to Mt Waterman and get a taste of the beauty of the area. If you have the time, I highly recommend the longer hike. It’s a bit of a workout with a lot of up-and-down, but the summit of Twin Peak East is a great one.
Pearblossom, CA - 11.5 miles, Hard
The Switzer Falls hike is so much more than just a waterfall. In about 2 miles the trail to Switzer Falls takes you along a babbling brook, through historic ruins, on the side of a spectacular gorge, and then finally, to a pristine waterfall. Although I’ve listed the Switzer Falls hike as moderate because there’s a bit of climbing, overall it’s a very doable hike that offers many rewards for a small effort. It’s also a popular hike so it’s best done very early before the crowds show up.
Altadena, CA - 4 miles, Moderate
This Strawberry Peak hike offers a ton of great scenery in a relatively short distance. You wind around a ridge on Mt Lawlor with spectacular views, then do a short but tough climb to Strawberry Peak, the highest point in the front range of the San Gabriels at 6,164ft. You’ll earn great views of LA, Mt Wilson, and Mt Baldy. It’s a fun hike on its own, but even more attractive if you want to get a mountain climb in to build confidence for the higher peaks in the area.
Azusa, CA - 7.2 miles, Moderate
The Mt Wilson Trail is the oldest route to the summit to Mt Wilson. Unlike the popular route to Mt Wilson from Chantry Flat, the Mt Wilson Trail is mellow and lacks the crowds and kids looking for the waterfall. The Mt Wilson Trail offers beautiful views as it ascends the side of Little Santa Anita Canyon, and being the oldest trail, offers some historical landmarks as well. If you’ve only hiked Mt Wilson from Chantry Flat, I highly recommend giving this route a try too.
Sierra Madre, CA - 14.5 miles, Hard
The hike to Big Horn Mine is a fun and relatively easy way to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Angeles National Forest without a major effort. The trail to Big Horn Mine winds it’s way along the side of a mountain, eventually arriving at the abandoned mine, where you can explore a historic structure from 1895 and grab some iconic photos (with Mt Baldy in the background).
Valyermo, CA - 4 miles, Easy
Everyone hikes Mt Baldy from Manker Flats, but have you done it on the Bear Canyon Trail? Also known as Old Mt Baldy Trail, this hike leaves from Mt Baldy Village on it’s way to the summit. Unlike the main hike up Mt Baldy (via Baldy Notch), the Bear Canyon Trail is usually not as crowded. That’s because it’s harder. It climbs 5740 feet in 6 miles. There are sections that are very steep. It’d doable with a decent level of fitness. This hike is a good choice for those who have hiked Mt Baldy from Manker Flats and now want to do it again, without all the hub-bub.
Mt Baldy, CA - 13 miles, Very Hard
The Three T’s Trail hike is one of the more peaceful hikes in the Mt Baldy area. This loop hike starts at Icehouse Canyon, climbs to Icehouse Saddle, then hits Timber Mountain (elevation 8,303ft), Telegraph Peak (elevation 8,985ft), and Thunder Mountain (elevation 8,587ft), and then descends down to Baldy Notch, Manker Flats, and back to Icehouse Canyon. It’s a long hike, but a favorite for those avoiding crowds.
Mt Baldy, CA - 16 miles, Hard
With one of the coolest summits in the San Gabriel Mountains, the Cucamonga Peak hike is a favorite. Cucamonga Peak, at 8,862 feet, has spectacular views of the LA sprawl, the desert, and surrounding peaks. The climb is tough but not brutal, the scenery and views are awesome, and the crowds aren’t as bad as Mount Baldy. You might even see some bighorn sheep!
Mt Baldy, CA - 12 miles, Hard
Mt Wilson, at 5,712 feet, is the peak with all the radio towers that sits behind the LA skyline. It’s not the tallest peak in LA, but it’s a great hike with a fun summit. Multiple hiking trails ascend Mt Wilson. This hike starts at Chantry Flat, which gives you a gentler climb to the Mt Wilson summit, a trailhead store, bathrooms, and great views of LA on the way down. It’s a fun hike and a good long hike for beginners.
Sierra Madre, CA - 14.5 miles, Hard
This 11 mile Mt Baldy hike brings you to the highest point in LA at 10,064 feet. With almost 4000 feet of climbing, it’s a tough yet popular hike, and well worth the effort. You can see from the Pacific to the Mojave on a clear day. There are a few ways to hike Mt Baldy, and this guide takes you on the most popular route.
Mt Baldy, CA - 11 miles, Hard
The Mount Baden-Powell hike packs a lot into a relatively short distance. On your way to the summit of Mt Baden-Powell (9,399 feet), you’ll experience the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) where you can channel your inner Reese Witherspoon, 40 hardcore switchbacks, a monument for Mt Baden-Powell’s namesake, Lord Baden-Powell, they guy who founded the Boy Scouts, a barren saddle with jaw-dropping views, and a 1500-year old limber pine. And at the summit you’ll enjoy sweeping panoramic views of the San Gabriel Mountains. So you got all that going for you if you do the hike. It’s tough but very doable, I highly recommend it.
Vincent Gap, CA - 8.3 miles, Hard