Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hike 2016.010 -- Josephine Peak via Josephine Road (2N64)

Hiked Saturday, February 27. 8 miles. The trail head is on the Angeles Forest Highway, just south of where it intersects with the Angeles Crest Highway. I mean, literally, it is within a stone's throw of the intersection.
If you came up Angeles Crest Highway from La CaƱada, turn left at Angeles Forest Highway (towards Palmdale), then park immediately. The trail is on your right (the east side of the highway), beyond a locked gate. Park alongside the road, but off the pavement.

I am moderately certain you do not need an Adventure Pass for this spot, but that would be up to you. If it's a weekend, you can ask the ranger at the Clear Creek Ranger Station (on Angeles Crest Highway, just east of the junction with the Angeles Forest Highway--it's within sight of the trailhead). Technically, since there is no developed facilities within 1/2 mile of here, other than the ranger station, where no Adventure Pass is required, I'd say, "No." But, again, it's your call. Since I have the Federal Lands Recreation Pass, anyway, I displayed that, to be safe.
The wide dirt road starts off heading straight east, then makes a few curves and switchbacks. Initially, you climb with a hill to your right, and a ravine to your left. Looking across the ravine, you can see the trail switchbacking up Josephine Peak, before bending around the right side of that ridge, where it will slowly climb and makes its way up the north side of the mountain.
At approximately the 2.5 mile point, you reach a saddle. A relatively narrow isthmus heads to the right (east). Staying on that trail will take you to the north of Strawberry Peak, down to Strawberry Potrero, then back around the east end of Strawberry Peak, and back down to Red Box Junction. There's also a cross country route that leaves this trail almost immediately, and heads just to the right, up the ridge, to Strawberry Peak. Or there's a turnoff to Colby Canyon, which leads back down to Angeles Crest Highway, just a few miles east of where I started.
I have hiked both to Strawberry Potrero, which I would describe as a sort of sloped meadow, and from Red Box Junction to Strawberry Peak, as well as the Colby Canyon trail I linked, above. But I never got around to blogging either the hike to Strawberry Peak or to Strawberry Potrero from Red Box Junction.
Meanwhile, from this saddle, I stayed on the left, hugging the rise that would lead to Josephine. It's a deceptively long walk as the trail contours slowly up the north side of Josephine.
Finally, the trail turns to the south, and, from the west end of the peak, you see the small set of radio towers and a small shack that's at the summit. That last 20 yards or so beyond the shack places you on a small concrete pad that housed a fire lookout. You have a 360 degree view from here. The severely burned area to your north is slowly starting to show signs of life. Strawberry Peak is to your east. A bit north of that is Mt. Lawler, then Mount Wilson, then San Gabriel Peak.

It was hazy to the south, but Palos Verdes pocked above the fog. Numerous ridges lined up to the east and northeast. Great view. Fun hike, at least when it's not too hot.


  1. Good write-up. I ride my mtn. bike up here all the time and only a few times have I seen a hiker and I don't think I've ever seen another biker. This is a great evening hike/bike, many times I have watched the sunset and then biked down the hill before it really got dark, but it would also be fun to walk down in the dark on a moonlit night.

  2. It's all fire road, so it would be a pretty safe night hike. Relatively easy not to go off the edge! Some trips here, I've seen maybe a half-dozen or so people, both hikers and mountain bikers. There are usually cars parked near the trailhead, but I don't know where everyone else is heading!