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Hike Josephine Peak From Colby Canyon
The Best LA Hikes

Hike Josephine Peak From Colby Canyon

  • 8.4 miles - Moderate Effort
  • 4 Hours (Total)
  • 2,300 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 5,558 feet
  • Leashed Dogs Allowed

what does this mean?

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.

In this Guide:
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions to Hike Josephine Peak
  • The Best Trail to Hike Josephine Peak
  • Parking, Maps, and Insider Tips

When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.

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

Josephine Peak Hike 1
If you're driving from the western end of Angeles Crest Highway, you'll be able to see Josephine Peak as you drive up into the forest.
Josephine Peak Hike 2
The lot isn't massive, but I've never seen it full.
Josephine Peak Hike 3
There's a trailhead sign here to confirm you are in the correct spot. FYI no parking pass is needed here.

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.

Gear 2022 8

I waste my time with lousy hiking gear so you don't have to. Only the winners get onto my gear page. There's no fluff, sponsorships, or promotions. It's just gear I personally use, have tested, and recommend. Right now I'm liking my inReach Mini 2, Garmin Epix, and Lone Peak 6 shoes.
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My November 2022 Top Gear Picks

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Josephine Peak Trail Maps

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Elevation Profile

Hike Josephine Peak From Colby Canyon Elevation
There are some little ups and downs along the way, but overall you'll be climbing, with a nice flat section between Josephine Saddle and the intersection with the fire road.

3D Map

Hike Josephine Peak From Colby Canyon 3d Map
It's an out and back hike up Colby Canyon Trail to the summit. You can also see the fire road route on this map, which I don't think is as nice a route as Colby Canyon.

Josephine Peak Hike Directions

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Video Directions

Turn by Turn Directions

Josephine Peak Hike 4
The trail starts just to the left of the Colby Canyon Trail board.
Josephine Peak Hike 5
At the start you'll have a short downhill into the canyon, crossing the (usually dry) creek a couple of times.
Josephine Peak Hike 6
And then you start to climb. At the beginning the climb is a little primitive.
Josephine Peak Hike 7
And then gets more graded and established as it continues.
Josephine Peak Hike 8
And soon you crest the ridge, which has sweeping views over Colby Canyon. In the distance you can see the trail zig-zagging its way up to Josephine Saddle.
Josephine Peak Hike 9
And as you continue, you'll be treated to unique views of Strawberry Peak (on the left), which actually does look like an upside down strawberry from here. Here you'll go down a small downhill with evidence of the 2009 Station Fire.
Josephine Peak Hike 10
Start climbing up the wide switchbacks, which offer nice views down to the mouth of Colby Canyon where you started.
Josephine Peak Hike 11
As you climb, you'll also start to see San Gabriel Peak (left) and Mt Disappointment (right) in the distance.
Josephine Peak Hike 12
There's some solid trail work here.
Josephine Peak Hike 13
After the first section of switchbacks, you have a short flat stretch before the next series, which you can see ahead.
Josephine Peak Hike 14
At the top of those last switchbacks you'll see a concrete cistern ahead. This is Josephine Saddle.
Josephine Peak Hike 15
When you get to Josephine Saddle, make the hard left.
Josephine Peak Hike 16
You'll hike from the saddle clearing onto a singletrack trail.
Josephine Peak Hike 17
This section is flat and pleasant as you follow the ridge.
Josephine Peak Hike 18
The views north into Angeles National Forest are spectacular.
Josephine Peak Hike 19
When you come around a bend you'll see Josephine Peak in front of you.
Josephine Peak Hike 20
You'll come to a little clearing on the left with great views south.

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.

Josephine Peak Hike 21
The last viewpoint offers great views toward downtown LA.
Josephine Peak Hike 22
Then you'll come to the intersection with Josephine Peak Road #2N64. Hike straight and continue uphill.
Josephine Peak Hike 23
The rest of the hike is on this dirt road, but it's not too bad and offers great views.
Josephine Peak Hike 24
After a switchback, stay on the main road and avoid small side trails.
Josephine Peak Hike 25
You'll start getting some spectacular views of Strawberry Peak (right).
Josephine Peak Hike 26
And you can see the trail you climbed up below you.
Josephine Peak Hike 27
As you wind around to the east, you can see Mt Lukens with all the radio towers on top.
Josephine Peak Hike 28
Hike past the helipad at the wide clearing.
Josephine Peak Hike 29
And after a narrow section of trail, you'll reach the summit!

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.

Josephine Peak Hike 30
You'll have views over toward Mt Wilson (the peak with the antennas).
Josephine Peak Hike 31
And to the north you can see Mt Pacifico, about 10 miles away.
Josephine Peak Hike 33
And you also get the incredibly dramatic views of Strawberry Peak.
Josephine Peak Hike 32
There's also a USGS benchmark if that's your thing.
Josephine Peak Hike 34
Enjoy the summit, take your photos, and then just return the way you came up!

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This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!).

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