OverviewEcho Mountain, Inspiration Peak, Muir Peak), I felt the beauty and popularity of this hike deserves his own route page. This description covers the Lower Sam Merrill trail up Echo Mountain from the Cobb Estate trailhead, the Castle Canyon trail up to Inspiration Point (with a little side-kick up Inspiration Point) and back to Echo Mountain via the Middle Sam Merrill trail.
This page also intends to honor the various volunteers over the past decades, who helped to restore and maintain the trails around Echo Mountain after its glory days passed by in the late 1930’s. Without their continuous hard work and dedication countless hikers and mountain bikers alike would not be able to enjoy the beauty of this area. In this regard, Sam(uel) Merrill deserves great recognition. As a retired clerk of the Superior Court of Los Angeles and active member of the Sierra Club, Sam Merrill overhauled, maintained, and improved the trails up Echo Mountain in the 1940’s. After his death (shortly after he helped in a firefight in one of the canyons) in 1948 the trail from Altadena up Echo Mountain was named after him.
Getting ThereThe trailhead for that route is the Cobb Estate at the north end of Lake Avenue in Altadena. Lake Avenue is also an exit of the 210 Freeway. The Cobb Estate, once a private residence, is used as a free growth botanical garden by the United States Forest Service since 1967. You can park on Lake Avenue or Loma Alta Drive. No Adventure Pass is required here.
From Echo Mountain the Castle Canyon trail leads north, first slightly descending and crossing the top of Rubio Canyon. The trail then ascends constantly and gets steep at the end climbing about 800 ft. in 0.3 miles. 2 miles after Echo Mountain it eventually tops out at the Ramada at Inspiration Point (4,510 ft). This lookout was a famous site at the times of the Mount Lowe Railway and has marvelous vistas over the mountains and canyons below and on clear days all the way to the ocean. There are several options here to add a few miles and peaks. If you take the fire road at the Ramada to the right (east) for about a mile, you will get to a small trail to the right leading up to Muir Peak. From the Ramada it is a brief excurse of about 0.2 miles and less than 200 feet elevation on a firebreak to a nearby peak (4,714 feet), which on Tom Harrisons Mt. Wilson Trail Map and on other Topo maps usually is called Muir Peak. Mountain Impulse rightfully claims that this peak is Inspiration Peak instead, while Muir Peak is east/southeast of Inspiration Point. Anyhow, from this peak, you are rewarded with great 360 degree views over the San Gabriel Front Range: Mount Lowe and the ridge leading to Tom Sloane Saddle and Brown Mountain to the north and northwest; antenna-covered Mount Wilson and Mount Harvard to the northwest; Muir Peak, Echo Mountain and the cities of the Los Angeles basin to the southwest and south.