Hike Josephine Peak From Colby Canyon
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||8.4 miles (13.5 km)|
|Hike Time||4 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||2,300 feet (701m)|
|Highest Elevation||5,558 feet (1694m)|
|Fees & Permits||None|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Angeles National Forest|
Standing prominently in the western San Gabriels, Josephine Peak offers a cool summit with sweeping views. There are a few ways to hike to the summit, and this guide covers my favorite route, which takes the (single track) Colby Canyon Trail (instead of the fire road). This is a great “off-the-beaten-path” hike where you never see crowds, making for a peaceful and pleasurable experience.
Note the yellowish tinge in the images of this guide. The air was covered in smoke from the 2021 KNP Complex in the Sequoia National Park, about 150 miles away.
Where is the Colby Canyon Trailhead?
The trailhead is easy to spot, and is off Angeles Crest Highway, close to the Switzer Falls area. Use this trailhead address:
Colby Canyon Trail, 701 Angeles Crest Hwy, Tujunga, CA 91042
Gear For the Hike
This hike is mostly exposed, so make sure you bring sun protection and about 2L of water. In the winter there can be snow. And if you have trekking poles, I’d bring them for the climb and descent.
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.
Josephine Peak Trail Maps
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.
Josephine Peak Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
What’s the concrete structure? It’s a big cistern, used to collect water. The top is angled inward to a hole where the water flows in. It was built by the Los Angeles River Flood Control Project to monitor rainfall, but according to this map, I don’t think it’s used anymore (this one’s ID is LARFCP 1948). You can see similar ones around Angeles National Forest, including one on Mt. Gleason, stamped LARFCP 1947. There’s a side trail to climb onto the cistern if you want to check it out.
Who is Josephine Peak named after? It’s Josephine Lippencott, the wife of USGS surveyor Joseph Barlow Lippencott, who used the peak as a triangulation station.
You’ll notice the concrete blocks, which were once the base of a fire tower. The tower stood from 1938 to 1975 when it burned down in the Mill Fire. At that point many towers in Angeles NF were being dismantled and abandoned anyway because the smog was so bad.
This guide last updated on October 1, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.
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