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Mount Lowe, Echo Mountain, Inspiration Point

17 November 2001


Mount Lowe - Historic Route

Leaders: John Connelly & George Wysup

Where our HPS hiking route 1 is short and sweet, we did a variation of route 2, which is long, strenuous and full of historic interest. Round trip stats for this group of eleven able hikers was seven hours, over fourteen plus miles and 3,800 feet of gain.

Using John Robinson's "Trip 24" as a general plan, our group followed the Sam Merrill trail from Lake Avenue in Pasadena to Echo Mountain, 2.7 miles and 1,400 feet. We spent 15-20 minutes wandering among the remains of this remarkable resort, which burned down almost 100 years ago. Today much work has been done to place interpretive signs and pictures in the area. Many local residents will run, hike or mountain bike to Echo Mountain.

From Echo Mountain, it's possible to follow either the Sam Merrill Trail or the Castle Canyon Trail to Inspiration Point; however, we continued in a northerly direction along the old railroad right of way four miles to the site of the old Mount Lowe Tavern, pausing frequently to read the many interpretive signs. We took a second short break at this site, which was also destroyed by fire in 1936 - leading to the abandonment of the railway. (Its tracks were removed during WWII). Robinson notes in his Trails of the Angeles that the railroad transported over 3 million tourists during a 43-year period of operation - mostly under the control of the Pacific Electric Company.

From the site of the Alpine Tavern (now a trailside campsite with picnic tables and outhouses), we did the actual business of climbing to the summit of Mt. Lowe. (Two different trails will conduct you approximately 1.5 miles to the summit, the East Trail and the West Trail). Today you can still use the original "view tubes" to identify Mt. Wilson and other nearby peaks.

On our return, we stopped at Inspiration Point, beautifully restored by a local group in 1996 and the nicest spot on the route for lunching and viewing the San Gabriel Valley and beyond. We descended to Echo Mountain via the poorly maintained Castle Canyon Trail. This is a little shorter than the maintained Sam Merrill Trail between these two points.

Don Croley was on our hike and mentioned that he had participated in a John Robinson-led hike to Echo Mountain 30 years ago, when they actually followed the route of the old incline railway from Rubio Canyon. In any case, today, for the serious hiker looking for some local history, Mount Lowe will present many interesting options.

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