Inspiration Point Via Sunset Ridge
Miles: Approximately 14.25 Round Trip
Hours: 8 hrs; All day hike
We decided to challenge ourselves and take the way less traveled to Inspiration Point and see all the epic views and stops in between. If you start from Lake Ave near Cobb Estates and hike to Echo Mountain and then to Inspiration Point it's about 10.5 miles, but when given the choice to increase your hiking mileage always say yes.
I've completed many hikes in Los Angeles County and this is by far on my top 5, the scenery and history of this place are both amazing! My favorite time to hike here is Spring, there are so many wildflowers and the weather is usually close to perfect. Spanish Broom which is actually an invasive weed (but is beautiful) is in abundance during Spring. This hike offers amazing city views while being submerged in the historic San Gabriel Mountains.
This is an all day hike, so pack accordingly. I brought 2L of water with me, bring at least 2L, I may even bring 3L just to be safe.Tip: freeze your water pack the night before, but only fill it half way then add water in the morning to fill the rest of the pack and you will have cold water on your hike! Bring lots of snacks that are protein and carbohydrate filled. Some good food to bring on a long hike: peanut butter, bananas, trail mix, Gatorade. Over pack on food, when you're doing a long hike you're using higher amounts of energy than you usually do and you will tend to get more hungry than normal. It's better to have too much food than not enough, I am speaking from experience here. One of my most important tips Get a good nights sleep! I have hiked long hikes very sleepy and they are not as enjoyable as when I am fully rested. I also recommend hiking boots and a sweater or long sleeve for this hike, once you get to the top the temperature is a bit cooler. You need an Adventure Pass to park at the trail head for this hike.
- At least 2L of water
- Plenty of high calorie food
- Adventure Pass
- Hiking Boots
- Sweater/Long Sleeve
- First Aid Kit
- Your Sense of Adventure!
From Alhambra take the 210 West, take the Lincoln Ave exit and make a right onto Lincoln Ave, turn right onto Loma Alta Dr. Look for Chaney Trail Rd it's a small ally looking road and if you're not looking you may miss it. Drive up Chaney Trail Rd turn right when you see a small parking lot to your right and it says Mt. Lowe Road. You can park here with an Adventure Pass, (sold at REI or Big 5, $5 for the day).
From the parking lot you will see a white gate marked 2N50, go around the gate and head up Mt. Lowe fire road, this road is paved and will lead you to Sunset Ridge trail. After about 1/8 of a mile you will see a junction for Sunset Ridge Trail which descends to Millard Canyon parking area, keep heading up Mt. Lowe road a bit further and you will see another junction for Sunset ridge trail. Here you can decide if you would like to stay on the less scenic but shorter (by 0.3 miles) Mt. Lowe road or take the more scenic dirt trail; Sunset Ridge. I prefer Sunset Ridge for the scenery, you can see Millard Canyon Falls when the water is flowing as well as the beautiful Canyon, the dirt trail is over run by wildflowers and Chaparral native shrubs and plants, which means more shade. Not to mention dirt trails are much easier on the knees. Sunset Ridge is a bit steeper as well, so getting to the top will feel that much better. I did this trail in February, the weather was perfect, nice and crisp in the morning with the beautiful sun to warm up the afternoon.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="960"] A beautiful Sunset Ridge Trail[/caption]
After hiking 0.85 miles on Sunset ridge trail you will come to a Cabin, this marks the first trail junction. Stay to the right to keep going up towards Cape of Good Hope, the trail to the left will take you down to Dawn Mine, which is an awesome hike in itself. From here there are many switch backs and the trail is slightly steeper, but don't give up, I promise the views are worth it! You will reach Sierra Saddle after 1.9 miles from the very start of the hike. Here there is a picnic table where you can enjoy a snack as well as the view of Pasadena and Down Town Los Angeles to the South and views of the mountains to the North. You can spot Echo Mountain to the South East from Sierra Saddle as well. Once you have rested and regained some feeling back into your legs you can continue 0.8 miles more until you get to Cape of Good Hope.
Cape of Good Hope is one of my favorite parts of this hike, it has a mystical feel to it. It may be the old brick wall that's still in place hidden within the clouds or the intriguing history behind it, either way I love reaching the Cape.
Mt. Lowe fire road meets the ridge of the Cape, be sure to walk around the Cape and read about the amazing history of the Mt. Lowe railroad. I love visualizing what it once looked like with the rail cars moving up and around the curves of the mountains, the excitement and curiosity those visiting the resort must have once felt. From here you can take the Echo Mountain trail down to Echo Mountain, it's only a mile from the Cape of Good Hope.
The one mile stretch from the Cape to Echo Mountain is one of my favorite parts of the trail. Here you can see some to the old rail ties from the Lowe Railroad, they're especially abundant at Sentinel Rock. Once you reach Echo Mountain there will be much more remnants from the railroad and resort that once stood atop the mountain. There are display cases with old photos and history facts to give a better idea of what it once looked like on the top of the mountain that housed Professor Lowe's vision. There are spectacular views of the city down below and when it's clear enough you can see the ocean and even Catalina Island. I recommend getting in a good break at this point and make sure to eat some nutrient rich food, the next part of the trail is the tough part.
The Castle Canyon Trail is 2 miles of uphill leg burning, again I promise the views at the top will be worth it! It's only 2 miles, you have already come so far, you can make it to the top, I promise! As you are making your way to the top be sure to look back at the view, it's truly beautiful. In the Spring time this trail has an abundance of beautiful wild flowers and offers some nice shade from Oak trees that line this Chaparral forest. Castle Canyon does get narrow on some parts so always be aware of your footing. About the time you may feel like you can't hike anymore you will see Inspiration Point peeking out from behind the mountain, this site made me literally jump for joy! In cooler months bring a sweater, you will be sweaty from the climb and it is sometimes very windy at the top and much cooler from where you started. Be sure to really take in the view and remember where you started, you just climbed a mountain!! Hopefully there isn't much cloud cover and you have spectacular views of the ocean and city below.
Once you are well rested and ready for the trek back,you can either backtrack down Castle Canyon or take the Sam Merrill trail down to Echo Mountain. I prefer the Sam Merrill trail, it's less steep and harsh on the knees and starts out under a canopy of trees. This trail offers views of the city and passes by the remnants of the Observatory that once stood. Once you reach Echo Mountain head back up towards Castle Canyon and then either follow Sunset Ridge trail to Chaney trail or take the Chaney trail fire road the entire way down to the parking lot. Sunset Ridge is preferred going down, the dirt trail makes for a better cushion for the knees than the paved fire road. Once at your car give yourself a huge pat on the back, you just hiked 14.25 miles, you deserve the praise!
Happier, Healthier one hike at a time.
Adaire To B Brave!