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Dawn Mine Trail Hike

Dawn Mine Trail Hike

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn by Turn Hike Directions to Dawn Mine
  • Where to Park for the Dawn Mine Hike
  • Gear Recommendations and Tips
Total Distance6 miles (9.7 km)
Other Options 5 out and back to mine
Hike Time3 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Moderate
Total Ascent (?)1,900 feet (579m)
Highest Elevation3,590 feet (1094m)
Fees & PermitsParking Permit
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Angeles National Forest
Park Phone747-322-6574

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

Dawn Mine Trail Parking
When you get to the top of the hill at the split, the parking lot is on the right. If you can’t find a spot, try the alternative parking options, but be very careful of the “no parking” signs which are peppered around the area.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 1
There aren’t a lot of parking spots in the trailhead (closest) lot, but if you get here early, it’s often empty. Otherwise try one of the alternatives mentioned before and walk to the trailhead.

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).

La Sportiva Spire

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: WomenMen

Osprey Talon

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.

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

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.

My September 2020 Top Gear Picks

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.

Click Here To View Map

Download the Hike GPX FileView a Printable PDF Hike Map

Fenix 6 Pro

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.

Elevation Profile

Dawn Mine Trail Elevation
While there are a few ups and downs in the beginning, in general you’ll climb to the mine, then finish with a steep climb up to the ridge, and then enjoy a nice long downhill cruise back to the start.

3D Map

Dawn Mine Trail 3d Map
From the beginning you make your way up Millard Canyon to Dawn Mine. Then it’s a steep climb up to the old Dawn Mine Station on the Mt Lowe Railway, and back down along Sunset Ridge.

Hike Brief

Dawn Mine Trail Directions 36
You’ll follow the path of the Mt Lowe Railway for part of the hike. Dawn Mine used to use the railway to haul ore down the mountain. This is the old “Dawn Station” which is no longer there.

Dawn Mine Trail Directions

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Video Directions

Watch This Video In 360/VR Why 360/VR Is Great

Turn by Turn Directions

Dawn Mine Trail Directions 2
Start the hike by heading through the gate on the paved Mt Lowe Road.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 3
You’ll start heading uphill.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 5
And shortly after the start you’ll see a trail off to the left and an interpretive display on the right. Go straight.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 4
The interpretive display is for the Mt Lowe Railway trail. There will be more of these on the return loop and are worth a look.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 6
After the road twists, you’ll see this turnoff for the Sunset Ridge Trail, which you want to take.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 7
Here’s the start of the Sunset Ridge Trail. From here on out you’ll be on “trail trails” to Dawn Mine.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 8
I love this part of the Sunset Ridge Trail. As you hug the ridge you’ll get big views into to the west.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 9
And then the trail swings around and you get sweet views into Millard Canyon, which you’ll be traveling up to reach Dawn Mine.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 10
When you come to this split, go left to head to Dawn Mine. On the loop back, you’ll come back out on the right.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 11
Soon after the junction you’ll pass a private cabin; stay on the trail.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 12
Then you’re going to cross over Millard Creek several times. Usually the creek is pretty low but can get a bit more challenging in the Spring. The trail is well defined as you can see in this shot.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 13
Keep an eye out for trail signs to mark twists and turns on this section. The trail crew has repaired the route, and it sometimes deviates from the old trails.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 14
And take time to admire the recent trail work, including the beautiful retaining walls and steps. The trail is generally in great condition thanks to volunteers.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 15
Keep following the trail up along Millard Creek.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 16
There can be some pretty aggressive poison oak when you cross the creek. And of course it is overgrown right here, at the narrowest section of the hike.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 17
The canyon starts to angle upwards and you’ll climb through a steep, rocky area referred to as “the bounders.”
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 18
When you finish “the boulders” and the trail levels out, look to the right across the stream bed to see some washed away mining relics. From here until the mine there are rusty debris scattered around.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 19
When you go around a rocky bend, it looks like a trail goes right. But you want to head left.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 20
Here’s another view just past that last spot, looking left. Loop around and keep left.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 21
When you get to the rock stairs, head up them. You can also take another route to the left through the creek bed. But the official trail is up to the right.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 22
Climb the beautiful switchbacks.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 23
You’ll see a small trail leading through the trees. Take that trail for the short spur to Dawn Mine. When you’re done at the mine, you’ll come back here and continue to the right to do the loop hike.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 24
Just through the trees you’ll see the mine ahead on the hillside.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 25
Here you are, Dawn Mine! Someone installed a swing which is pretty cool. A lot of the graffiti has been cleaned up too. Thank you volunteers!
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 26
The mine shaft is just past the equipment, behind a boulder.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 27
When you’re done at Dawn Mine, head back the way you came to the last junction.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 28
At the junction, make the left.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 29
Right after that, you’ll reach the beautifully restored junction for the trail to Tom Sloane Saddle. Make the hard right to hike toward Mt Lowe Road (Dawn Station).

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.

Dawn Mine Trail Directions 30
Start heading uphill from the junction. This section is steep and tough. It’s incredible to imagine mine workers hauling ore up there to be transported on the Mt Lowe Railway.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 31
Make your way up the steep switchbacks. The good news is that once this climb is over, it’s all downhill.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 32
As you start to climb out of Millard Canyon you’ll get some sweet views of the Verdugo Mountains.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 33
Some sections of the trail hug the cliff wall. Look ahead to see the path of the trail.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 34
After about 0.6 miles of climbing you’ll reach Dawn Station, the old stop on the Mt Lowe Railway. From here make a right onto Mt Lowe Road and start your descent.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 35
The views as you descend Mt Lowe Road are great. You should be able to see downtown LA and beyond on a clear day.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 37
You’ll go past this rock formation that the railroad called the “cape of good hope” because the trains used to do a sharp turn to round this corner, just like ships would round the actual cape at the southern tip of Africa. The rock also resembles Table Mountain at the real Cape of Good Hope.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 38
Shortly after that you’ll pass the trail to Echo Mountain back to your left, go straight. You might even hear people yelling into the echo phone there (I often do).
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 39
And then hike right onto the Sunset Ridge trail to the right.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 40
Here’s the start of the Sunset Ridge Trail at the last junction. Stay aware of mountain bikers who generally go downhill on this stretch.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 41
The nice winding descent offers more great views of the Verdugo Mountains and Mt Lukens (with all the antennas on top) and the highest point in the City of LA.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 42
When you get to Sierra Saddle, also know as Camp Sierra (you can picnic and camp on the flat area here), the trail bears off to the right.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 43
Once you leave Sierra Saddle, keep your eyes open across Millard Canyon for Saucer Falls.

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.

Dawn Mine Trail Directions 44
Soon you’ll pop out at the junction by the cabin that you were on earlier. Make the left and retrace your steps back.
Dawn Mine Trail Directions 45
And soon you’ll be back at the start. That’s all she wrote!

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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