LA Mountain Hikes

LA is not usually thought of as a mountain hiking city, but some of the best LA hikes are in the high mountains, all within an hour or so of downtown. In fact, some of these peaks are only a few thousand feet lower than Mt Whitney. Check out these great LA mountain hikes.

Name Distance Level Location Climb Dogs
Echo Mountain Hike on the Sam Merrill Trail5.4HardAltadena1730Y
Mount Baden-Powell Hike8.3HardVincent Gap2800Y
Hike Mt Lukens From Deukmejian Wilderness Park10HardLa Crescenta2800Y
Mt Baldy Hike11HardMt Baldy3990Y
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Hike To Mt San Jacinto11HardPalm Springs2620N
Cucamonga Peak Hike12HardMt Baldy4200Y
Hike Mt Baldy on the Bear Canyon Trail13Very HardMt Baldy5650Y
Mt Wilson Hike From Chantry Flat14.5HardSierra Madre4600Y
Hike Ontario Peak and Bighorn Peak14.7HardMt Baldy4240Y
White Mountain Peak Hike (California)15HardBishop3360Y
San Bernardino Peak Hike16HardAngelus Oaks4670Y
Hike the Three T’s Trail16HardMt Baldy5110Y
San Gorgonio Hike18.5Very HardForest Falls5470Y
Hike Mount San Jacinto From Idyllwild19.5HardIdyllwild5480N
Cactus to Clouds Hike21Very HardPalm Springs10800N
Hike Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak21HardCorona4910Y
Mt Whitney Hike22Very HardWhitney Portal6960N
Mt Lukens Hike

Hike Mt Lukens From Deukmejian Wilderness Park

10 miles - Hard

The hike to Mt Lukens, the highest point in the city of LA at 5,066 feet, is a fun one that doesn’t get as much traffic as other more popular Southern California hikes. It’s a tough 10 mile loop with almost 3,000 feet of total ascent, and you’re rewarded with great views and pristine wilderness, all within the city of LA.

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Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Hike To Mt San Jacinto

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Hike To Mt San Jacinto

11 miles - Hard

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Hike to Mt San Jacinto is a great way to bag Southern California’s second highest peak without putting in a huge effort. It’s still a tough 11 mile hike, but it’s nothing like climbing to Mt San Jacinto from Palm Springs or Idyllwild. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway cuts about 6,000 feet of climbing off the hike, and offers a nice base station where you can grab a snack after your successful summit. The summit of Mt San Jacinto is one of my favorites because it straddles the line between Coastal California and the Sonoran Desert, allowing you to see the transition between the two. On a clear day you’ll see from the Pacific Ocean to Mount Charleston in Las Vegas. A really fun and insanely beautiful hike.

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Hike Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak

Hike Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak

21 miles - Hard

The Indian Truck Trail offers an alternate way to hike Santiago Peak (Saddleback Mountain). It’s not a rustic single-track trail like  the Santiago Peak hike from Lower Holy Jim Trail, but instead includes some wider Forest Service dirt roads (Indian Truck Trail is also known as forest road 5S01). You might see a few 4x4s or mountain bikes, but otherwise it’s very mellow.  It’s a beautiful hike, so don’t let this stop you.

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hike white mountain peak california

White Mountain Peak Hike (California)

15 miles - Hard

The White Mountain Peak hike brings you to the third highest peak in California, only a few hundred feet lower than Mt Whitney, and the highest outside peak of the Sierra Nevada. The hike is tough, but doable, and meanders through the White Mountains Wilderness section of Inyo National Forest: a rugged a beautiful mountain desert, tucked into the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada. The summit of White Mountain Peak offers great 360 views from the Eastern Sierras to Nevada.

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mt whitney needles

Mt Whitney Hike

22 miles - Very Hard

The Mt Whitney hike is on every hiker’s bucket list. At 14,505 feet, it’s the highest point in the lower 48, and is one of those rare high peaks that you can hike to without any mountaineering skills. There is some prep work you need to do, like getting your Mt Whitney permit and dealing with the altitude. This hike guide has everything you need to know to successfully climb Mt Whitney. Keep reading for all the info.

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cactus to clouds hike

Cactus to Clouds Hike

21 miles - Very Hard

The Cactus to Clouds hike is epic. It was rated one of the hardest day hikes in the world by Backpack Magazine. You start in downtown Palm Springs and climb over 10,000 feet to the summit of Mt San Jacinto, with a large stretch on the treacherous Skyline Trail. The Cactus to Clouds hike should only be attempted by the very experienced and very fit hiker, and only under the right conditions. This guide gives you all the info you need to do this incredible hike safely.

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old mt baldy trail

Hike Mt Baldy on the Bear Canyon Trail

13 miles - Very Hard

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.

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three ts trail hike

Hike the Three T’s Trail

16 miles - 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.

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echo phone on echo mountain

Echo Mountain Hike on the Sam Merrill Trail

5.4 miles - Hard

The Echo Mountain hike packs a lot of bang for the buck. You’ll hike up the Sam Merrill Trail, which follows the old Mt Lowe railway route up to Echo Mountain, where you can see the old ruins of the Echo Mountain mountain resort. USA Today included the Echo Mountain hike as one of the “10 Great North American Hikes” and Sunset Magazine called it one of the top 45 hikes in the west. The hike is easy to follow, has an interesting history, offers great views, is a good workout, and is close to LA. Overall it’s a win.

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hike san gogonio views

San Gorgonio Hike

18.5 miles - Very Hard

At 11,503 feet, the San Gorgonio hike brings you to the highest peak in Southern California.  The hike to San Gorgonio is an iconic SoCal hiker rite of passage, and I highly recommend it. There are a few ways to hike to the peak. This hiking guide takes the Vivian Creek trail, which is the quickest way to the summit at 10 hours roundtrip. It’s a tough hike but doable in a day if you train for it.

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San Bernardino Peak Hike view

San Bernardino Peak Hike

16 miles - Hard

The San Bernardino Peak (10,649 feet) hike is tough but rewarding. The San Bernardino Mountains were named after San Bernardino Peak, which was named by one of the pioneer friars in California, Francisco Dumetz in 1835. I like this hike a lot. The crowds are light, the fauna is beautiful, and it offers sweeping views of Mt Baldy, Mt San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, Big Bear Lake, and the Inland Empire.

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view from Mount San Jacinto Hike

Hike Mount San Jacinto From Idyllwild

19.5 miles - Hard

There are a several routes to hike Mount San Jacinto. This route from Idyllwild is my favorite. The climb is not as steep as the other routes, you don’t need a special permit, and the views on the whole hike are spectacular. John Muir called the views from Mount San Jacinto the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth.  On a clear day, you can see from Catalina Island to Southern Utah. That’s because Mount San Jacinto, at 10,834 feet, is one of the most topographically prominent peaks in the USA, rising 10,000 feet above the San Gorgonio Pass below. This hike to San Jacinto includes a stretch on the famous Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) where you can channel your inner Reese Witherspoon. The hike is long, and you need a good level of fitness to do it.

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Hike Ontario Peak and Bighorn Peak sign

Hike Ontario Peak and Bighorn Peak

14.7 miles - Hard

If you want a great Angeles National Forest mountain hike without the crowds, hike Ontario Peak (8,696 ft) and Bighorn Peak. The hike begins on the popular Icehouse Canyon trail but soon moves off to the much less traveled Ontario Peak Trail, where you might see more bighorn sheep than people. The Ontario Peak Trail roughly follows a ridge line, offering great views culminating in the “rock nest” summit of Ontario Peak. There’s also a short spur trip to Bighorn Peak, because, why not? This is a tough hike but worth the effort–one of my favorites.

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Cucamonga Peak Hike summit

Cucamonga Peak Hike

12 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!

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Mt Wilson Hike From Chantry Flat

Mt Wilson Hike From Chantry Flat

14.5 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.

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mt baldy hike

Mt Baldy Hike

11 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.

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Mount Baden-Powell Hike

Mount Baden-Powell Hike

8.3 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.

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