The hike to Mt Lukens, the highest point in the city of LA at 5,066 feet, is a fun one that doesn’t get as much traffic as other more popular Southern California hikes. It’s a tough 10 mile loop with about 3,900 feet of total climbing, and you’re rewarded with great views and pristine wilderness, all within the city of LA.
Mt Lukens is the westernmost peak of the San Gabriel Mountains front range. Hiking to the peak gives you a glimpse into the mountainous innards of Angeles National Forest. Looking back to the west you have about 3,000 feet of prominence, with terrific views of LA and the Verdugo Mountains. On a clear day you can see from Catalina to San Gorgonio. The summit has radio towers on it, but who cares, it’s still a great hike.
Where is the Mt Lukens Hike?
There are a few trails to the Mt Lukens summit, and this guide covers the most popular loop route from Deukmejian Wilderness Park, which is only 20 minutes from downtown LA (if the traffic gods are on your side).
Although you could get away with doing this hike with fitness gear as many trail runners do, I strongly recommend using proper hiking gear. It’s a tough 10 mile hike and you need to be prepared. There’s also not a lot of shade so you’ll want to be ready for hot temperatures in the summer. Here’s what I recommend.
Do you have the right hiking gear? Will it stand up to the test? I waste lots of money testing hiking gear every year so that you don’t have to. My gear picks are solid choices that will serve you well on the trail. I don’t do sponsored or paid reviews, I just the share actual gear that I use all the time that’s made the cut. Here are my top picks:
Garmin Fenix 5x Plus – It’s a little pricey, but man do I love this thing. Not only does it have all the topo maps and navigation tools on my wrist, but it also acts as a long battery life, rugged, outdoors version of an Apple Watch. Track your workouts, sleep, heart rate, all that stuff.
I have lots of other great, sponsor-free, trail tested gear picks on my “best gear” page.
There are several trails and hikes to the top of Mt Lukens and as I mentioned earlier, this guide covers the most popular route which starts in Deukmejian Wilderness Park and makes its way into Angeles National Forest. The hike heads up the Crescenta View Trail, visits the summit, then descends back to the start on the Rim-of-the-Valley Trail.
Many people also print out this web page for the turn-by-turn images. And if you really want to get tricky, YouTube Premium lets you download videos for offline use, so you can download the hike video and save it.
Mt Lukens is the highest point in the City of Los Angeles. Mt Baldy is the highest point in the County of Los Angeles.
Before it was called Mt Lukens, it was called Sister Else Peak, allegedly named after a Roman Catholic nun who cared for those with smallpox. But no one is really sure who Else was. It was renamed by ranger Donald McLain (an interesting character) who declared that “mountains should be monuments to the men who have treasured and protected them. What did Sister Elsie ever do for the mountains?”
Its current namesake, Theodore Parker Lukens, was a Pasadena mayor and businessman who also had a love for the outdoors. Lukens helped John Muir survey the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite and was a prominent member of the local Sierra Club. At the turn of the century the San Gabriels were showing the signs of abuse by miners, livestock, and loggers. Lukens started a tree nursery at Henninger Flats with mixed success, but was noted as a prominent conservationist and advocate of the mountains around LA.
Deukmejian Wilderness Park, opened in 1989, is named after the former Armenian-American California governor (1983-1991), George Deukmejian.
In 2009 the Station Fire burnt much of the area that you cover on this hike, leaving only the radio towers standing. Although the chaparral has grown back, you can still see evidence of the fire on some sections.
You can watch this video in 360 degrees. I have a version of this video where you can pan around in 360 degrees and see every angle of every trail junction, the trail conditions, and more. This is how you can use and view them.
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