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).
Stay Safe Out of Cell Phone Range
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 Garmin InReach Mini (REI | Amazon | My Review) fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing.
Altra Lone Peak 5
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.
Latest Price on Women’s Shoe
REI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s Shoe
REI | Amazon
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.
REI | Amazon
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated October 2021.
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 keep the website ad and promotion free. 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.
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.
How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 6. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
- 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.
This guide last updated on September 7, 2020. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.
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