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Mount Hawkins Loop Hike

Mt Hawkins Loop Hike (Hawkins, Middle, and South Mount Hawkins)

In This Guide
  • Video & Turn by Turn Directions
  • How to Get to the Mt Hawkins Trailhead
  • Everything You Need to Know To Prepare for the Hike
Total Distance (?)13 miles (20.9 km)
Hike Time5-7 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Hard
Total Ascent (?)3,750 feet (1143m)
Highest Elevation8,850 feet (2698m)
Fees & PermitsParking Permit
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Angeles National Forest
Park Phone747-322-6574
Weather & ForecastLatest Conditions
Stay SafeCopy this webpage link to the clipobard and share with a friend before you hike. Let them know when to expect you back.

This challenging and lightly-trodden loop hike offers three summits along the route: Mt Hawkins, Middle Hawkins, and South Mount Hawkins. The hike offers sweeping views of the peaks of Angeles National Forest, an interesting history, beautiful trails, a long descent down Hawkins Ridge, and three different peaks to bag from the Sierra Club’s 100 Peaks list. Escape the crowds on the nearby peaks and give the Mt Hawkins loop a try.

Many other guides take in only Hawkins Ridge and South Mt Hawkins. This guide is about 1.5 miles longer and also offers Mount Hawkins, which offers great views and is worth the extra mileage.

Getting to the Trailhead

The hike starts in the Crystal Lake campground area, at the Windy Gap Trailhead. The area can be confusing, with lots of roads and some inaccurate trailheads listed on Google Maps. Finding the big trailhead parking lot is not a big deal once you know where you are going. Here are the actual parking lot coordinates:

34°19’36.3″N 117°49’56.2″W
34.326736, -117.832283

If your automotive GPS can’t get to those coordinates easily, just navigate to the Crystal Lake Visitor’s Center and then follow the map below.

Crystal Lake Visitor’s Center, 9877 N Crystal Lake Rd, Azusa, CA 91702

Once you’re at the Visitor’s Center, use this map to get to the Windy Gap trailhead parking lot.

Mt Hawkins Hike Parking Map

Sometimes the gate to the campgrounds (just past the Visitor’s Center) is closed. If that’s the case, park in the big lot just east of the Visitor’s Center and walk up to the trailhead (about 10 mins).

Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 2
The parking lot across the street from the Windy Gap trailhead is massive.

You need a parks pass or Adventure Pass to park at Crystal Lake.

Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 3
There are bathrooms by the trailhead parking.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 4
The trailhead is right across the street from the big parking area.

Gear For the Hike

This is a tough backcountry hike and, I recommend being prepared for all conditions. Water is seasonal, and there’s no great sources right off the trail, so I recommend bringing everything that you will drink (probably around 2-3L).

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Garmin Inreach Mini 2

Garmin InReach Mini 2
I’m a firm believer in carrying a satellite communications device which works where cell phones don’t. I use a Garmin InReach which lets me send text messages back and forth to my family to let them know that I’m okay or if my plans change when I’m out in the backcountry. It also has an SOS subscription built-in so that you can reach first-responders in an emergency. The devices also offer weather reports, GPS, and navigation functionality (what’s the difference between a GPS and satellite communicator?). For a few hundred bucks they could save your life, so for me it’s a no brainer to have something like a Garmin InReach. If you use a smartphone to navigate and want a more affordable option that integrates with your phone easily, check out the ZOLEO.

Latest Prices: Amazon | REI

Lone Peak 6 Yellow

Altra Lone Peak 6
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 Terraventure 3 or 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. I have a video on the details of the Altra Lone Peak 6 here.

Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon 
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon 

Black Diamond Ergo Poles 2

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.

Trail Ergo Poles: REI | Amazon 
Z-Poles: REI | Amazon 

Gregory Zulu 30

Gregory Zulu 30 & Jade 28
After testing quite a few backpacks, the Gregory Zulu 30 (and Jade 28 for women) is, for most hikers, the best all-season day-pack. First off, it’s very comfortable, and the mesh “trampoline” back keeps your back dry. Its 30L capacity is enough for all the essentials and plenty of layers for winter hiking. External pockets make it easy to grab gear. It’s hard to find something wrong with the pack; if anything, it could be a bit lighter, but overall, it’s not heavy. And its price-point makes it not only affordable but generally a great value.

Women’s Latest Prices: REIAmazon 
Men’s Latest Prices: REIAmazon 

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated June 2022.

My June 2022 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 keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.

Mt Hawkins Loop Trail Maps

Click Here To View

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?
Here’s what I use. 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 7 or Epix. 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.

To access this guide when out of cell phone range on the trail, simply save the webpage on your phone ( iPhoneAndroid ).

Elevation Profile

Mt Hawkins Hike Elevation Profile
The hike does the bulk of the climbing in the first half, hitting Mt Hawkins first. From there it’s a long downhill stretch with two small climbs to Middle Hawkins and South Mount Hawkins.

Hike Landmarks

Windy Gap2.57588
Mount Hawkins4.58850
Middle Hawkins5.88505
South Mount Hawkins8.57783
Windy Gap Trailhead135840

3D Map

Mt Hawkins Hike 3d Map
From the trailhead we head clockwise and do the bulk of the climbing up to Mount Hawkins, then head back down along the ridge to bag the other peaks.

Hike Brief

South Mt Hawkins Fire Tower
You[‘ll see the ruins of this fire tower on South Mount Hawkins, which burned down in the Curve Fire. Photo Fire Lookouts: The Early Years (Volume 1)
Squirrel Inn 2
The Squirrel Inn in 1904. Is that forth blob from the right Nellie Hawkins? Could be! Photo: Azusa Herald – October 20, 1937

Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions

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Video Directions

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

Turn by Turn Directions

Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 5
We’re going to start on the Windy Gap Trail, which is right across the street from the parking lot.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 6
After you leave the campground area the trail is wooded and easy to follow as you hike uphill.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 7
Cross the road.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 8
The trail continues on the other side of the road and has another trail sign. Next stop, Windy Gap, 2.1 miles UP.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 9
As you climb you’ll be able to see down toward Crystal Lake. Or the marine layer as you see here.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 10
When you reach South Mount Hawkins Road, cross over to continue the trail. You’ll be coming back down this road (from the right) at the end of the hike.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 11
Here’s the trail across from the road, which again, is very well marked.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 12
Right after that last junction you’ll reach the junction of the Big Cienega Trail, which is a hard left. Just go straight to continue on the Windy Gap Trail.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 13
This section of trail has some long windy switchbacks and is steep, but easy to establish a rhythm on. As you can see, the trail is well maintained. As you climb you’ll start to get views of Mt Wilson behind you.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 14
After 2.5 miles you’ll reach Windy Gap. Make the hard right here.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 15
From Windy Gap we’ll be taking the PCT to Mount Hawkins. Head toward Hawkins Ridge Trail. Notice that all the PCT emblems are stolen, everywhere.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 16
This section of the PCT is really beautiful as you hike gently up a ridge. Lots of great views of the high peaks in Angeles National Forest.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 17
When you reach the junction of Hawkins Ridge Trail on your right, go straight to bag Mount Hawkins. We’ll be coming back here right after we bag the peak.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 18
Follow the PCT as it winds around the north side of Mount Hawkins (seen in the upper left of the photo here).
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 19
Look for the use trail cutting back to the right which goes to the Mount Hawkins summit.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 20
While not a main trail, the path to the summit is easy to follow.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 21
Here you are, the summit. In the distance are Mount Waterman and the Twin Peaks, Strawberry Peak, and Mt Wilson.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 22
Looking back you’ll see Mt Baden Powell and Mt Baldy.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 23
You’ll also get a nice view of Hawkins Ridge, Middle Hawkins and South Mount Hawkins, which will be the next stops on this loop hike.

From the summit of Mt Hawkins, head back to the Hawkins Ridge Trail junction.

Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 24
When you hike back to the Hawkins Ridge junction, beware of the side trail to Lily Spring, which is off to the right and is easily mistaken for the main trail.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 25
When you get to Hawkins Ridge Trail, head left onto it. It’s about 2 miles until you get to South Mount Hawkins.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 26
The Hawkins Ridge Trail is probably the most primitive of all the trails today, but it’s still very easy to follow.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 27
Okay, here’s the start of the climb to Middle Hawkins. To bag the summit, go on the steep trail that’s straight. When you’re done, head back to this junction and hike back on the main trail.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 28
The climb to Middle Hawkins is steep and might be painful after all the descending that you just did.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 29
Here you are, the summit of Middle Hawkins. Soak it in and head back down to the junction to continue on the ridge trail.

The OSM maps show the Hawkins Ridge Trail going straight down the ridge from Middle Hawkins summit, which is not the case (at least anymore). I recommend heading back down the way you came from Middle Hawkins and then continuing on the trail. The GPX file  and map in this guide correctly documents the trail, even though it doesn’t match the OSM trail.

Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 30
Once you’re back on the trail it follows the eastern slope of Hawkins Ridge.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 31
Expect spectacular views as the trail winds its way along the ridgeline. The bump in the distance is Sadie Hawkins. When you get close, just go off trail and climb up if you want to bag it.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 32
This part of the trail is one of my favorites, with sweeping views south and west.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 33
The trail heads through a meadow. You can see evidence of the 2002 Curve Fire here.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 34
After the meadow you’ll pop out to face South Mount Hawkins, the last peak of the hike.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 35
Avoid the old road up the hill and hike on the path to the left.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 36
When you get to the saddle, go straight and bear left. You’ll be coming back down to this junction on the way down.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 37
After bearing left at the junction, you’ll see a trail and a road. We’re taking the trail up, and the road back down.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 38
Heres the start of the last stretch of trail up to South Mount Hawkins.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 39
This last section of trail is small and primitive, but easy to follow.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 40
You’ll reach the old road and pop out at the summit. There’s a radio shack to the right, and the tower ruins to the left.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 41
Explore the old ruins of the fire tower while you enjoy the views.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 42
My favorite ruin is the old toilet with views of Mt Baldy in the distance.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 43
When you’re done at the summit, head down the fire road back to the saddle. The start of the road is in the back of the summit.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 44
When you get back to the saddle, head left onto the old road.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 45
This used to be the road to the fire tower, and was abandoned by the Forest Service after the fire tower burned down. So it’s not much of a road anymore.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 46
You’ve got a nice long cruise down the old road. Some people find this boring, but I’ve hiked much worse. The views are great and the long “cruisey” downhill will be welcomed by your legs.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 47
Some sections of the old road have washouts, but hikers before you have picked out paths through the debris.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 48
When you get to the junction with the Windy Gap Traill that you passed through earlier, go left.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 49
Head back down the Windy Gap Trail that you were on at the beginning of the hike.
Mt Hawkins Loop Hike Directions 50
And soon you arrive back at the trailhead where you started!

This guide last updated on April 21, 2022. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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