San Gabriel Peak, San Gabriel mountains, Los Angeles county, CAApr. 5, 2009
One of the San Gabriel front ranges most distinctive peaks


Pointy San Gabriel Peak is one of the higher summits in the San Gabriel front range, the mountains to the east of the Los Angeles metro area. The distinctive A-shaped summit is recognizable from all over north LA and the San Fernando Valley. After adjacent Strawberry Peak, it's also one of the highest. Several trailheads access San Gabriel Peak. From Mt. Wilson Rd., atop the Angeles Crest Highway, it's a relatively easy hike. There are some steep sections, but most of the trail is under shade trees, so it's a good hike for warm weather.

On clear days, the summit view extends to the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands to the west, and Mt. Baldy and the San Bernardino mountains to the southeast. There is hiking path to the top, but there's also an old road to the top of the communications station on adjacent Mt. Disappointment, which shares the ridge with San Gabriel Peak. Near the top, the trail shares this road for almost half a mile. South past the concrete slabs of an abandoned Cold War missile site, the San Gabriel Peak trail becomes a footpath again for the last 1/2 mi. to the summit.

Most of the hike up is on the eastern flank of the mountain, and offers nice views of Strawberry Peak and the eastern San Gabriels, all the way to Mt. Baldy and San Gorgonio mountain. After the saddle where the old missile site is located, the trail climbs mostly the west side. The summit was anti-climactic, IMHO, partially because there are trees all around that block most of the view of the slope. There is little feeling of height, of summit, of being at the apex of a pointed mountain where a false step can be dangerous. It's just the end of the trail at a place in the trees where you can't go any higher. Nevertheless, it's a good workout on a well-maintained trail. And theres a big steel bench on top for your break.
This April hike was on a clear, sunny day across LA, but there were some clouds forming on the Front Range. The view east was awesome, but west to LA clouded up by the time I reached the summit, so with 180 degrees of view blocked off, there was no opportunity to appreciate all there is to see. Some steep spots give you a workout, but the hike is less than 3 miles and took me under an hour to the top.

On the way back, I climbed the service road from the old missile site up to 5800 ft. Mt. Disappointment, where there is a communications station. It's less than 1/4 mi. up from the old missile site. At the top are some antenna and a heli pad.The view east and north on clear days must match that of San Gabriel. Hopefully, next time will be clear all around.

Trail / Conditions / Maps / Stats
There's a well-maintained trail from the parking area off Mt. Wilson Rd. to the summit. The trailhead starts at the elbow of the gated road just before the parking lot with some steep switchbacks. After about 1.5 mi., the trail comes out on the service road to the communications station atop adjacent Mt. Disappointment and the old missile site. Follow the road south and up.Just beyond the missile site—a flat spot with concrete slabs—the footpath begins again at the left/southeast of the open area. Another .5 mi puts you on top.
San Gabriel Peak Trail
map, San Gabriel Peak trail
Elevation gain is about 1400 ft over about 3 miles.
San Gabriel Peak via Mt. Wilson Rd.trailheadApr. 5, 2009
Approx. 6100 ft. depending where you get your info
Elevation gain: Approx. 1400 ft.
Distance: Under 3 miles one way
Duration: 1-1.5 hours one way
Difficulty: Moderate
Water availability: None

Directions / Permits / Links
Take Hwy. 2 East / Angeles Crest Hwy. in La Canada to the top of the mountain, about 14 mi. from I-210. T/R south on Mt. Wilson Rd. At .3 mi., T/R at dirt road. There's a small parking lot just before the gate or park on the shoulder of Mt. Wilson Rd.

Parking is free but requires a Forest Adventure Pass, (available at the small Forest Service hut a few miles back at the intersection of Hwy. 2 and Angeles Forest Hwy., among other places.)
Highway map to San Gabriel Peak
map, hwy. to San Gabriel Peak
Leave nothing visable in your vehicle that looks valuable.
US Forest Service, Angeles National Forest Official USFS site for Angeles Nat. Forest in San Gabriel mountains
Adventure Pass info Required for parking ($30/yr.-$5/day) USFS site
NOAA Weather National Weather Service forecast for La Canada, closest town

The trailhead is at the left, a few feet from the turnoff from Mt. Wilson Rd..

Steep climb starts right away

East to the San Gabriels

Near the top, first look at San Gabriel Peak

The old missile site at the saddle between San Gabriel Peak and Mt. Disappointment

Southeast of the missile site, the footpath starts up again for the last 1/2 mile to San Gabriel peak summit, top right

Strawberry Peak at left, with the Angeles Crest Highway cutting across the mountain.

View north coming back down from the summit. That's the trail, bottom left.

Looking west, the clouds had rolled in, covering up much of the view down toward Los Angeles.

North to the old missile site and part of Mt. Disappointment, coming down from San Gabriel Peak

San Gabriel Peak from the saddle between it and Mt. Disappointment. Old missile site at right.

View north from Mt. Disappointment

From Mt. Disappointment

Great views east over the ridges. In the distant center is the snow-capped summit of Mt. Baldy