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 almost 3,000 feet of total ascent, 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.
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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.
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.
Mt Lukens Hike Directions
An update from HikingGuy reader Mark: they are building a new tower on the summit and there's some major construction going on. Be careful of trucks passing and closed areas as the workers do their thing.