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Sunset Peak Trail Hike Angeles National Forest

Sunset Peak Trail Hike (Angeles National Forest)

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the Sunset Peak Trail
  • Where to Park for the Sunset Peak Trail
  • Insider Tips and Recommendations for the Hike
Total Distance (?)7.5 miles (12.1 km)
Hike Time2:30-3:30 (Total)
Difficulty (?)Moderate
Total Ascent (?)1,300 feet (396m)
Highest Elevation5,796 feet (1767m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Angeles National Forest
Park Phone747-322-6574
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The Sunset Peak hike, with its gentle yet steady uphill, offers lots of beauty for all levels of hiker. For beginners, Sunset Peak lets you dip your toe into the high peaks of Angeles National Forest without anything too hairy. And for the experienced hiker, the sweeping panoramic views give you a unique perspective of all the big-name peaks. Overall Sunset Peak is a great hike that I recommend for everyone to enjoy.

Where is the Sunset Peak Trail?

There are a few routes to Sunset Peak, and I’ll show you the most common (and easiest) from Cow Canyon Saddle. The only downside is that parking is limited to the side of the road. Use this trailhead address:
Sunset Peak Trail, Glendora Ridge Rd, Mt Baldy, CA 91759

Sunset Peak Trail Directions 3
The trail starts by the yellow gate on the left. You can’t park in the lot on the right, but you can park anywhere on the side of the road outside of the white road lines.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 4
Here’s a closeup of the car in the distance.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 2
And there’s parking just before the trailhead too.

Three are no facilities at the trailhead, and also no fee or pass is needed to park here.

Gear For the Hike

Although the hike is not technical, you are in the mountains, and I recommend light hiking gear. 1-2L of water will be fine depending on the conditions, and there’s intermittent shade on the route. Insects can be a problem on this lower peak, so prepare accordingly.

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Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

Garmin inReach Mini
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.

Latest Prices: Amazon | REI | Backcountry
My Review & Guide

Lone Peak 5

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.

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

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 | Black Diamond
Z-Poles: MacPac | REI | Amazon | Black Diamond

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated November 2021.

My November 2021 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.

Sunset Peak Trail Maps

This hike takes the Sunset Ridge Fire Road, also known as the Sunset Ridge Trail, up to Sunset Peak, and is very easy to follow. The fire road is pleasant and peaceful.

Sunset Peak Trail Directions 1
This hike passes through remnants of the Antonio Fire, which burned 50 acres in 2021. Only portions of the hike look like this. There’s plenty of land that survived.
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.

Gaiagps

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.

Elevation Profile

Sunset Peak Trail Hike Angeles National Forest Elevation
The climb to Sunset Peak is very gradual and easy to cruise up.

3D Map

Sunset Peak Trail Hike Angeles National Forest 3d Map
The trail parallels Glendora Ridge Road in the beginning, and then does a couple of wide switchbacks toward the top.

Sunset Peak Trail Hike Directions

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Video Directions

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

Turn by Turn Directions

Sunset Peak Trail Directions 5
From the Glendora Ridge Road, hike up toward the yellow gate.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 6
And go around the gate onto the Sunset Ridge Trail.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 8
The fire road is very pleasant, isn’t open to OHV use, and feels like you’re walking down an abandoned road from 100 years ago.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 7
As you climb you’ll start getting glimpses into Cow Canyon and Cattle Canon (yup, that’s what they’re called).
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 9
The trail becomes surrounded with nice tall pines as you climb.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 11
At about a mile or so in, you’ll start to notice fire damage. Here you can still see some red fire retardant that was dropped from an aircraft.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 12
When you get to the first sweeping bend in the trail, go to the edge for some spectacular views into the San Gabriels.
Sunset Peak Trail Panorama
Here’s what it looks like. I’ve listed out some of the prominent peaks below in detail.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 13
On the left is the tough hike of Twin Peaks, then Mt Waterman, then a big ridge with Mt Hawkins and South Mount Hawkins.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 14
Continuing right, you’ll see Mt Baden-Powell in the distance, and then “Big” Iron Mountain dominating the foreground. Big Iron is considered one of the hardest hikes in Southern California.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 15
The mountain in the back that dominates the skyline is Mt Baldy, and the smaller Lookout Mountain sits in front of it.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 16
To the far right you’ll see Thunder and Telegraph, part of the “3 Ts Trail” hike.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 17
Make the hard left up the switchback at about 2 miles in. Forest Service Road 2N07 joins from the right.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 18
The road is a bit wider here and loses some of the charm of the lower road, but makes up for it with expansive views.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 19
At about 2.5 miles in, the road does another sharp curve as it climbs. Ontario Peak is the big mountain ahead.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 20
If you look down from that last curve, you’ll see the smaller trail winding up the ridge. This trail starts just before the gate at the parking area and is much more difficult. If you do attempt this route, I highly recommend trekking poles for the steep and loose terrain.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 21
As you wind on the last curve you’ll also see down San Antonio Canyon, which you drove up to get to the trailhead.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 22
Continue up the fire road, which has a nice level section.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 23
And at the saddle, look for the turn off on the left to the Sunset Peak Summit.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 24
Instead of going up the steep dozed path, bear left and we’ll loop around the peak.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 25
The trail is much smaller, mellow, and loops up and around Sunset Peak.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 26
Soon you’ll arrive at a big open area of the peak. Go straight across the corrugated metal to reach the marker.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 28
On the way to the summit area, look for these concrete squares, which used to support a fire tower that sat here.
Sunset Peak Fire Tower
Here’s what the fire tower looked like in 1940. It was built in 1927 and dismantled in 1974, when the smog became so bad that it was no longer useful.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 27
And here you are at the summit. There’s usually a sign or two around here to grab a photo with.

Why is it called Sunset Peak? Aside from the obvious one (it’s a nice place to watch the sunset), I can share this. Until the late 1940s, Mt Baldy Village used to be Camp Baldy, a resort that was (at one point) run by the Curry family, who you might know from Curry Village in Yosemite. In the 1920s Camp Baldy Resort visitors would hike up here on the old “Sunset Trail” to view the sun going down. The name “Sunset Peak” appeared soon after on official maps in 1926.

Sunset Peak Trail Directions 29
Looking out to San Antonio Canyon you can see Saddleback Mountain in the distance, and Stoddard Peak in the foreground.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 30
And to the east, Ontario Peak looms large, with Thunder Mtn and Telegraph Peak, part of the 3Ts hike, behind it, and then Mt Baldy, the highest point in LA County and Angeles National Forest.
Sunset Peak Trail Directions 31
When you’re done at the summit, just turn around and head back down the way you came.

This guide last updated on September 29, 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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