Dawn Mine Trail Hike
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance||6 miles (9.7 km)|
|Other Options||5 out and back to mine|
|Hike Time||3 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||1,900 feet (579m)|
|Highest Elevation||3,590 feet (1094m)|
|Fees & Permits||Parking Permit|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Angeles National Forest|
The Dawn Mine Trail hike takes you on a loop through history and beauty. You’ll see the old abandoned Dawn Mine, enjoy a cool swing installed there, and then retrace your way back along the Mt Lowe railway. But more than that, it’s a beautiful hike. You hug ridges with expansive views, you hike along a lush canyon stream, and then you descend along the ridge and soak in a vista that includes LA and the Verdugo Mountains. And there’s just enough climbing to make it a decent workout.
Dawn Mine Trail Trailhead
To start, you’re going to park at the end of Cheney Trail (a paved road). There’s a small parking lot that fills quickly, so the hike is best done at sunrise (when the lot is often empty).
The trailhead doesn’t have an address on Google Maps; use the following address and then drive up the road until you reach a junction. The parking area is on your right at the top (before you go down the hill). There are no bathrooms or water fills at the trailhead, but there are some if you drive down the hill to the Millard camground parking area.
Use this trailhead address:
Chaney Trail, Altadena, CA 91001
You need a Parks Pass or Adventure Pass to park here.
Gear for the Hike
This is a backcountry hike and I recommend hiking gear. There are stream crossings (aided by rocks and logs), having good footwear is recommended. Trekking poles will help push the poison oak aside. And usually the stretch along Millard Creek has bugs. The first half of the hike is shaded; after the mine it’s all exposed (but downhill).
I try a lot of hiking boots and shoes, and there are some great options out there, but the La Sportiva Spire is the best combination of comfort, protection, low-weight, and durability. They are waterproof, and the high cuff keeps debris out without the need for a gaiter. Time tested over thousands of miles. Use them with a two-layer sock system to end blisters for good.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
On a medium or longer hike I recommend a pack like the Osprey Talon 33 (men) or Osprey Sirrus 36 (women) which is a little bit larger. These packs are on the upper end of the (35L) daypack range, but they only weigh a small fraction more than a pack with less capacity. Having the extra space gives you more flexibility and means you don’t have to jam things in there. I use the space for things like extra layers in the winter, extra water on desert hikes, and even a tent & sleeping bag on overnights.
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI (or Amazon).
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated September 2020.
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Dawn Mine Trail Maps
The trail to Dawn Mine used to be in pretty rough condition, but these days it’s great. The Restoration Legacy Crew has done some incredible trail building. The hike is much easier than it used to be.
Download the Hike GPX FileView a Printable PDF Hike Map
Your best move to navigate this hike is to take a paper map, compass, and a GPS device. Load the GPX track from this hike onto your GPS to ensure that you’re on the trail. I’m a big fan of GPS watches; I just glance down at it to cross-check my position and use paper when I want a deeper dive. The GPS watch that I’m using now is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar (price: REI or Amazon). It’s pricey but has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of other wellness, fitness, and smart-watch applications. For a more affordable option, check out the value-packed Garmin Instinct (price: REI or Amazon), a similar watch without some of the features. There are also great smartphone GPS apps like GaiaGPS. If you end up getting GaiaGPS premium, I’ve arranged for a 20-40% discount for my readers.
- Most mines in the San Gabriel Mountains weren’t so successful; Dawn Mine was an exception. It operated on and off from 1895 to 1954.
- Dawn Mine’s hundreds of feet of tunnels were a favorite for local explorers until the Forest Service closed most entrances in 2017.
- After visiting the mine, you’ll pass the junction at “Dawn Station,” which was a stop on the Mt Lowe Railway. When tourists learned of the mine, they wanted to visit. But the journey down and back was too tough, so a fake mine shaft was dug about 100 feet away from the stop for tourists to peer into.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
If you want to see another mine shaft, do a five minute detour up the trail toward Tom Sloan Saddle. Look for a tunnel entrance on the wall of the opposite bank of the creek. I’ve marked the waypoint for the mine shaft on my map.
If you want to visit Saucer Falls, the Dawn Mine Trail we took earlier goes close, but it’s a tough go from that trail to the falls. I put the waypoint in the map for you.
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.