LA is not usually thought of as a mountain hiking city, but some of the best LA hikes are in the high mountains, all within an hour or so of downtown. In fact, some of these peaks are only a few thousand feet lower than Mt Whitney. Check out these great LA mountain hikes.
Angeles National Forest is home to some of the best LA hiking, including Mt. Baldy, the tallest peak in the city of LA, at 10,064 feet. The hike to Mt. Baldy is tough and long, 11 miles, with a some of the hike exposed above the tree line. If you have a good level of fitness and some hiking experience, you should go for it. Mt Baldy is a LA rite-of-passage hike and must-do.
San Jacinto is unique in a few ways. It’s one of the peaks with the most prominence in the USA (aka it’s steep and rises dramatically). It also sits high above the San Gorgonio pass, which separates LA from Palm Springs and the Sonoroan desert. From the peak, you have 360 degree views. The green Southern California hills to your west, the high mountains to the north, the arid desert to your east, and the high peaks in the San Diego area to your south. It’s impressive.
This is a hard and long hike, but the good news is that you have some options. There’s a challenging but incredibly beautiful route from Idyllwild. You can also “cheat” and take the aerial tramway from Palm Springs half the way up, and then hike the rest.
We all know it’s about the journey, not the destination, but when you’re hiking to the top of a mountain, the destination is pretty important too. Cucamonga Peak, one of the highest peaks in LA, has the best views and photo ops. There are cool rock overhangs and formations – lot’s of options for great shots. And unlike Mt Baldy, the crowds aren’t bad and you have great views of the LA metro area.
The hike to Mt Wilson is not short. And it’s not easy. But it’s great if you want to get your feet wet and start preparing for higher hikes like Mt. Baldy. The entire hike is below 6000 feet, so you don’t have to worry about harsh alpine conditions. The hike is shaded and protected from the sun. Most importantly, the summit has a full suite of facilities, including a snack bar, a museum, bathrooms, and water filling stations. Mt Wilson is a very user friendly hike.
The best LA hikes have the biggest crowds. If you want to do a great hike without the crowds, try Ontario Peak. The first half of the hike goes up Icehouse Canyon, which is popular (and scenic). But after that first stretch, you take the trail less traveled. I’ve done this hike several times without seeing another soul. And it’s great. An added bonus is that the views are incredible (comparable to Cucamonga Peak). Keep your eyes open, you might even spot some bighorn sheep!
San Gorgonio is the highest peak in SoCal at 11,503 feet. It’s only 3000 feet lower than Mt Whitney, the tallest point in the lower 48. Hiking San Gorgonio is tough, long and climbs 5000+ feet. But it is an epic, must-do LA hike, so start training and put it on your list.
If you’re in the city, want to do a mountain hike, but don’t have time to drive into the mountains, head to Altadena and hike Echo Mountain. The 5 mile hike feels like a mountain, and offers great views of the city and surrounding peaks. The peak has cool ruins and is a great place to watch the sunset.
It’s not technically a LA mountain hike, but many hikers use Los Angeles as a jumping off point for Mt Whitney, just 3 hours away. So Mt Whitney is unique – it’s a tall peak that’s also accessible by hikers — no mountaineering experience needed. It is tough though, don’t get me wrong, but it is doable. In addition to the physical challenge, you also need to get permits and deal with some red tape. My guide to hiking Mt Whitney has everything you need to know if you want to hike this iconic mountain.
|Echo Mountain Hike||5.4||1500||Hard||Leashed|
|Mount Baden-Powell Hike||8.3||2620||Hard||Yes|
|Mt Baldy Hike||11||3830||Hard||Yes|
|Cucamonga Peak Hike||12||4300||Hard||Leashed|
|Hike Mt Baldy on the Bear Canyon Trail||12.6||5740||Very Hard||Leashed|
|Mt Wilson Hike From Chantry Flat||14.5||4110||Hard||Leashed|
|Hike Ontario Peak and Bighorn Peak||14.7||4170||Hard||Leashed|
|Hike White Mountain Peak (California)||15||3450||Hard||Leashed|
|San Bernardino Peak Hike||16||4650||Hard||Yes|
|Hike the Three T’s Trail||17.6||5635||Hard||Yes|
|San Gorgonio Hike||18.5||5390||Very Hard||Yes|
|Hike Mount San Jacinto From Idyllwild||19.5||5080||Hard||No|
|Cactus to Clouds Hike||21||10800||Extremely Hard||No|
|Mt Whitney Hike||22||6100||Very Difficult||No|
The Echo Mountain Hike packs a lot of bang for the buck. The hike is easy to follow, has great views, is a good workout, and ends at ruins of an old hotel. These directions have an optional hike to the viewpoint at Inspiration Point.
Bringing you to one of the highest peaks in the San Gabriel mountains at 9,399 feet, the Mount Baden-Powell hike offers 360 views from the summit. It’s a fun hike with 40 switchbacks and a manageable distance.
The Mt Baldy hike brings you to the highest point in LA at 10,064 feet. With about 4000 feet of climbing, it’s a tough yet popular hike, and well worth the effort. You can see from the Pacific to the Mojave on a clear day.
With one of the coolest summits in the San Gabriel Mountains, the Cucamonga Peak hike is a favorite. The climb is tough but not brutal, the scenery and views are awesome, and the crowds aren’t as bad as Mount Baldy.
Everyone hikes Mt Baldy from Manker Flats, but have you done it on the Bear Canyon Trail? Also known as Old Mt Baldy Trail, this hike to Mt Baldy is tougher but doesn’t have the crowds.
This Mt Wilson hike starts at Chantry Flat and gradually makes it way to the summit. Mt Wilson (5,710 feet) is the peak with all the radio towers that dominates the LA skyline. It’s a fun hike and a good long hike for beginners.
If you want a great mountain hike without the crowds, hike Ontario Peak (8,696 ft) and Bighorn Peak. You might see more bighorn sheep than people!
The hike to White Mountain Peak brings you to the third highest peak in California, only a few hundred feet lower that Mt Whitney. The hike is tough, but doable, and the peak is spectacular with incredible 360 views that stretch from the Eastern Sierra to Death Valley.
The San Bernardino Peak (10,649 feet) hike is tough but rewarding. The crowds are light and it offers sweeping views of Mt Baldy, Mt San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, Big Bear Lake, and the Inland Empire.
The Three T’s Trail hike is one of the more peaceful hikes in the Mt Baldy area. This loop hike starts at Icehouse Canyon, climbs to Icehouse Saddle, then hits Timber Mountain, Telegraph Peak, Thunder Mountain, and then descends down to Baldy Notch, Manker Flats, and back to Icehouse Canyon. It’s a long hike, but a favorite for those avoiding crowds.
At 11,503 feet, the San Gorgonio hike brings you to the highest peak in Southern California. The hike to San Gorgonio is an iconic SoCal hiker rite of passage, I highly recommend it. There are a few ways to hike to the peak. This hiking guide takes the Vivian Creek trail, which is the quickest way to the summit at 10 hours roundtrip. It’s a tough hike but doable in a day if you train for it.
John Muir called the views from Mount San Jacinto the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth! On a clear day, you can see from Catalina Island to Southern Utah. To hike Mount San Jacinto from Idyllwild, you’ll need a good level of fitness, it’s a tough one.
The Cactus to Clouds hike is epic. It has over 10,000 feet of climbing, with a large stretch on the treacherous Skyline Trail, the Cactus to Clouds hike should only be attempted by the very experienced and very fit hiker.
The Mt Whitney hike is on every hiker’s bucket list. At 14,505 feet, it’s the highest point in the lower 48, and is one of those rare high peaks that you can hike to without any mountaineering skills. There is some prep work you need to do, like getting your Mt Whitney permit. This hike guide has everything you need to know to successfully climb Mt Whitney. That includes choosing a route, getting your permit, extra hiking gear considerations, planning your trip, training, and dealing with altitude. Keep reading for all the info.