Location and Background
Islip Saddle Day Use Site ("Islip Saddle") lies on the Angeles Crest Highway (CA-2), at mile marker 64.10, the junction of the northern terminus of the now closed Highway 39 (running up the front of the San Gabriel range from Azusa). It is virtually in the middle of the stretch of the CA-2 highway that runs between La Canada / Flintridge and Wrightwood / Cajon Pass. Islip Saddle has a large parking area on the northern side of the highway, directly across from the now gated and locked end of CA-39. There are restroom facilities at Islip Saddle.
Islip Saddle is a major trail head and access point in the Angeles National Forest, with numerous trail and summit options, and in fact the Pacific Crest Trail crosses the Angeles Crest Highway at Islip Saddle.
Islip Saddle is named after George Islip, a San Gabriel Canyon homesteader from the turn of the 20th century.
Trail OptionsMount Williamson (8,214') - This 6 mile round trip follows part of the PCT out of the northwestern end of the Islip Saddle parking lot and up Mount Williamson's southern shoulder. At the crest of the shoulder, a use trail heads north, directly up Williamson's southern ridge. Unless there has been recent and significant snow fall, the trail from Islip Saddle is usually clear, even in winter. There may be small pockets of snow in certain shaded areas, but they are generally not deep, and easily passable. Microspikes may be of use, but crampons and an ice ax would be rarely needed, as this portion of the trail receives high sun exposure and melts off quickly.
Pleasant View Ridge - An option of either a loop or through hike of Pleasent View Ridge can be accessed via Islip Saddle. Islip Saddle would be the eastern end, with Buckhorn Campground or Cloudburst Summit the western end, after potentially summitting Pallett Mountain and even Will Thrall Peak. Access to the Pleasant View Ridge continues on to the northeast from Mount Williamson's summit. Depending on which option you chose, this trip can be 13-15 miles.
Mount Islip (8,250') - This 6 mile round trip hike follows a well defined trail to the summit of Mount Islip. It is an easy hike in the spring, summer, and fall, and a fun snow hike after a good storm. Depending on conditions, an ice axe and crampons may be needed. There are portions of this north facing trail that never see sun, so snow and/or ice can linger for long periods. This hike initially follows the PCT south, and access to this trail starts immediately across the highway at the southeastern end of the parking lot.
Little Jimmy Trail Camp (7,450') - One of the best kept secrets in the Angeles National Forest. A small secluded trail camp in the middle of the forest, with stoves, restrooms, and a year round spring just one quarter mile outside of camp. It lies just off the PCT, approximately one and one half miles from Islip Saddle. To access this camp, take the southern portion of the trail from Islip Saddle, starting across the highway from the southeastern end of the parking lot. It is just one and one half mile further to Mount Islip.
Mount Hawkins (8,850'), Throop Peak (9,138'), Mount Burnham (8,997'), and Mount Baden-Powell (9,399') - one of the most spectacular Class 1 hikes in the Angeles National Forest, staying on well defined trails for the entire ridge. A through hike is possible with Islip Saddle as the western end, with either Dawson Saddle or Vincent Gap as the eastern end, depending on how far you want to travel, or you have the option of a seventeen mile out-and-back leg stretcher. The ridge from Baden-Powell to Mount Islip is seldom traveled, and you can go hours without seeing another person.
South Fork Campground (4,540') - Islip Saddle is frequently an ending point on a hike up from the desert floor, or a resting point on a continued trip up to Mount Williamson. The five mile long South Fork Trail travels up from South Fork Campground, and connects at the northwestern end of the Islip Saddle parking lot.
Gear is dependent upon the season and the goal.
The trail heading northwest to Williamson is usually mostly snow free, even during most of the winter, due to heavy sun exposure. The trail heading southeast up to Mount Islip is shaded for long stretches, and may retain snow and ice for long periods of time. If hiking or climbing this trail during the winter, it would be prudent to carry an ice axe and crampons, or microspikes at a minimum. The ridge line heading to Baden-Powell receives copious sun, and would rarely be problematic in regards to ice. If you hike immediately after recent snowfall, however, be prepared accordingly.
During the summer, it can get extremely hot in this area, so sun protection is vital.
Miscellaneous Info / Red Tape
A National Forest Adventure Pass is required to park at Islip Saddle.
Water is available year round at Little Jimmy Spring, just outside of Little Jimmy Trail Camp.
Currently, wood and charcoal fires are not allowed except in designated sites, in agency-provided campfire rings and stoves. Gas and petroleum jelly stoves are only allowed outside of designated sites with a valid California Campfire Permit. This permit is available for free and can be obtained from a number of sources, including the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, National Park Service, or the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Details can be found here, as well as in the external links section below.
During winter months, the Angeles Crest Highway (CA-2) closes in between Islip Saddle and Dawson Saddle due to extreme rockfall and avalanche danger. This means the only access to Islip Saddle is via the western end of the Angeles Crest Highway, in La Canada / Flintridge. Current highway conditions as provided by the California Dept of Transportation are linked below and also located here.
External LinksCurrent Angeles Crest Highway conditions from CAL-DOT:
Angeles National Forest fire conditions and restrictions:
Information on California Campfire Permits: