Monday, January 14, 2013

Hike 2013.001 -- Echo Mountain

Well, I never managed to fit in my 80th hike last year. It was like the universe conspired to create weather or conflicting engagements that kept me out of the mountains. No, I know it didn't really do that--the universe has much bigger fish to fry than my little hiking goals. But it does get frustrating sometimes when your schedule will only allow you one day a week to recreate, and those days keep getting taken away by other obligations.

So it came to pass that it was not until Saturday, January 5th before I finally had a few hours to spare for a little hike. I figured I'd start this year on my most frequent hike: Echo Mountain.

This hike has always been popular, but I think it's becoming more so. In fact, on this day, as I drove to the top of Lake Avenue, things were just crazy. Not only were their cars on both Lake and Loma Alta, but there was also a table set up just outside the gates of the Cobb Estate. On the table were dozens of cups. I don't know if this was supposed to be a race or a jogging meet-up, or what, but it just wasn't how I wanted my hike to start.

I turned around on Loma Alta and made my way back down Lake, not entirely sure of my plans. Initially, I was thinking maybe Rubio Canyon. Instead, I would up starting my hike from the top of Echo Glen Drive. Echo Glen Drive heads north from Maiden Lane, which is at the north end of Mt. Lowe Park. I assume Mt. Lowe Park is an old right of way for the Red Cars that used to run all over southern california. Echo Glen Drive appears to be a private road, closed to public auto traffic, but intended (I believe) as a pedestrian access to the mountains. Walk up Echo Glen Drive about 400 yards, and you intersect the trail that heads north from Loma Alta, that runs parallel to a wash, and begins just west of Rubio Crest Drive.

Once there, you've got about another 500 yards or so of running along yards and driveways, then along the bottom of a ravine before you meet up with the Sam Merrill Trail. My estimate is that the way from the top of Mt. Lowe Drive adds between .75 and 1.25 miles to the total round trip distance.

The regular way up the Sam Merrill and back is supposed to be 5.4 miles, so I'll call it 6 1/4 miles for the day.

As expected, the volume of folks heading down the trail was tremendous. It felt almost like Mt Hollywood, though obviously it was not THAT crowded.

There were thin, high clouds during this hike, which meant a soft, warm light on the mountains as I climbed.

When I got to the top, I snapped a number of pictures of the ruins and the mountains that rise above the old "White City." Then I headed back down.

It was dark by the time I got back to my trailhead. Nonetheless, I crossed Maiden Lane, entered Mt. Lowe Park, and took a flash photograph of the plaque at the north end of the park. It was the National Historic Landmark plaque for the Mt. Lowe Railroad.


  1. Glad you were able to get back into the mountains despite the crowds...

  2. Yeah, it was actually a nice surprise, because I learned another access point to the Altadena Crest Trail.

    I *could* have just parked a little further down the hill and still accessed the top of Lake, but for some reason I just don't like having to walk on the sidewalk to get there.