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).
My Goto Hiking Footwear: La Sportiva Wildcat
If you hike a lot or just want the best (but not the most durable) hiking footwear, the Wildcat trail runner is your best move. It’s fast and light on trails, the sole gives me good grip off-trail or scrambling, and they dry quickly.
Latest Price on Women’s Shoe – REI | Amazon
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Best All-Around Day Pack: Osprey Talon
I try so many backpacks and I can usually find something I love about all of them. But no matter how many I try, I always find that I come back to the Osprey Talon 33 (or for women, the Osprey Sirrus 36). It’s just the right balance between everything. You save weight because there is no frame, but the vented and padded back holds its shape, giving it a pseudo-frame. It’s big enough for long day hikes or overnighters, but when I don’t fill it on a shorter hike, it’s still nice and light. It’s got a sleeve for a hydration bladder and side pockets for Smartwater bottles. I’ve been using (and beating) the same one since 2017 and it’s still going strong.
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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.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated December 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
How are you going to navigate this hike?
To start, you should always have a paper map and compass. And it helps to print this guide out or save it on your phone. I highly recommend a GPS as well. I use the Garmin Fenix 6 smart GPS watch ( REI | Amazon | My Review) with maps (or the more affordable Garmin Instinct). You can also use most smartphones. Check out my navigation recommendations and resources on my top gear picks page for options at all budget levels.
- 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.