The Dawn Mine Trail hike takes you on a loop through history and beauty. You'll see the old abandoned Dawn Mine and then retrace your way back along the Mt Lowe railway. But more than that, it's a beautiful hike. You hug ridges with expansive views, you hike along a lush canyon stream, and then you descend along the ridge and soak in a vista that includes LA and the Verdugo Mountains. And there's just enough climbing to make it a decent workout.
In this Guide:
Video and Turn by Turn Hike Directions to Dawn Mine
When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.
Dawn Mine Trail Trailhead
To start, you're going to park at the end of Cheney Trail (a paved road). There's a small parking lot that fills quickly, so the hike is best done at sunrise (when the lot is often empty).
The trailhead doesn't have an address on Google Maps; use the following address and then drive up the road until you reach a junction. The parking area is on your right at the top (before you go down the hill). There are no bathrooms or water fills at the trailhead, but there are some if you drive down the hill to the Millard camground parking area.
You need a Parks Pass or Adventure Pass to park here.
Gear for the Hike
This is a backcountry hike and I recommend hiking gear. There are stream crossings (aided by rocks and logs), having good footwear is recommended. Trekking poles will help push the poison oak aside. And usually the stretch along Millard Creek has bugs. The first half of the hike is shaded; after the mine it's all exposed (but downhill).
As a hiking guide, I test lots of hiking gear. On my picks page, I'll show you all of the gear that I actually use. I don't accept paid promotions or talk about the stuff that doesn't make the cut. It's just the gear that works best, so you don't have to waste your money.
Most mines in the San Gabriel Mountains weren't so successful; Dawn Mine was an exception. It operated on and off from 1895 to 1954.
Dawn Mine's hundreds of feet of tunnels were a favorite for local explorers until the Forest Service closed most entrances in 2017.
After visiting the mine, you'll pass the junction at "Dawn Station," which was a stop on the Mt Lowe Railway. When tourists learned of the mine, they wanted to visit. But the journey down and back was too tough, so a fake mine shaft was dug about 100 feet away from the stop for tourists to peer into.
The swing that was once here seems to be gone now.
If you want to see another mine shaft, do a five minute detour up the trail toward Tom Sloan Saddle. Look for a tunnel entrance on the wall of the opposite bank of the creek. I've marked the waypoint for the mine shaft on my map.
If you want to visit Saucer Falls, the Dawn Mine Trail we took earlier goes close, but it's a tough go from that trail to the falls. I put the waypoint in the map for you.
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!).