Overview: One of the San Gabriel Ranges' Toughest HikesIt cannot be said that Ross Mountain is an imposing peak. Rather, the real enticement of this 7,402 foot mountain in the shadow of Mt. Baden-Powell (9,399’) is the adventure in getting there. Regardless of which of two available routes you use, you have to summit Baden-Powell first and then drop 2,000 feet in a little over 2 miles along a south-running ridge in order reach Ross. The return is the “crux” of the outing because you have to make up the 2,000 feet of loss to get back to Baden-Powell. In short, bagging Ross definitely qualifies as one of the tougher hikes in the San Gabriel range.
Route 1: From Vincent Gap
From the parking area at Vincent Gap (6,593’), the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) starts at the west end. It is approximately 4 miles to the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell along the trail. The 40 plus switchbacks greatly moderate the steepness of this trail so this is by far the easiest part of the route. A short distance below Baden-Powell’s summit, the PCT cuts to the right (east). Keep left and follow the ridge to the top.
From Baden-Powell’s summit, hike south down the ridge. There is a use trail for much of the route. Iron Mountain No. 1 (8,007’) and Mt. San Antonio (Baldy) (10,064’) are constant fixtures to the south and east of you. To the west, across the chasm of Iron Fork, is the magnificent Copter Ridge stretching southeast from Mt. Hawkins (8,890’). You will travel through a level area on the ridge at about 8,300 feet. Continue down over a bump at elevation 7,407 feet, over one more bump, and then out to the summit at 7,402 feet.
This route is 13.5 miles round-trip. You will gain 2,800’ going out and 2,000’ on the return for a total of about 4,800 feet.
Route 2: From Dawson Saddle
A second route starts from Dawson Saddle. It should be noted that, as of this writing, Dawson Saddle is not accessible by vehicle along SR 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) because the highway is closed between Islip Saddle and Vincent Gap. From the parking area at Dawson Saddle (7,920’), take the trail that starts on the south side of the road. This trail picks up the PCT just east of Throop Peak (9,138’), travels northeast and just to the north of Mt. Burnham (8,997’), and then continues about 2 miles to a junction just below the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell. Proceed to the top of Baden-Powell and then continue to Ross as per Route 1. This route is about 14 miles with 4,000 feet of gain.
Getting ThereRoute 1
As of this writing, Vincent Gap is not accessible by vehicle from the La Canada side of SR 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) because SR 2 is closed at Islip Saddle. When SR 2 is open, Vincent Gap is reached by taking the SR 2 exit from the 210 freeway in La Canada and driving north on SR 2 about 51 miles. There is a large paved parking area at Vincent Gap.
The alternative route to Vincent Gap is to take Interstate 15 North (towards Barstow and Las Vegas) from either Interstate 10 or Interstate 210. Off of Interstate 15, take the Highway 38 exit and go left (west). Normally, you would continue about 6 miles to SR 2 and take a left there towards Wrightwood and Vincent Gap. However, as of June 2007, Highway 38 is blocked just past Lone Pine Canyon Road. You can take a left at Lone Pine Canyon Road and drive into Wrightwood where you can then connect with SR 2. Take a left on SR 2 and proceed to Vincent Gap.
As mentioned above, it is not possible as of this writing to get to Dawson Saddle by vehicle along SR 2 from La Canada because SR 2 is closed between Islip Saddle and Vincent Gap (Dawson Saddle is between these two points). When SR 2 is open, Dawson Saddle is reached by taking the SR 2 exit from the 210 freeway in La Canada and driving north on SR 2 about 46 miles. There is a parking area just past Dawson Saddle.
Red TapeAt this time, no permits are required for hiking to Ross Mountain by either of the two routes even though this mountain is within the Sheep Mountain Wilderness Area. However, you will need an Adventure Pass to park your car at either trailhead. You can purchase one ($5 per day or $30 for a yearly pass) at some ranger stations or forest visitor centers or at most Southern California sporting goods stores.
CampingThere are no campgrounds or wilderness campsites in the immediate vicinity of Ross Mountain.
When to ClimbRoss Mountain is accessible year round for the most part. However, it would be best to avoid the exposed south ridge to Ross during the hot summer months. During the winter, bring appropriate gear. Crampons and ice axe may be necessary.
Mountain ConditionsCheck with Cal Trans (see link below) on road conditions and closures during the winter.
Other InformationUSGS Topos Crystal Lake 7.5
These routes require a minimum of 4-5 liters of water on a moderately warm day.
Not for nothing that you will be within the confines of the Sheep Mountain Wilderness Area. Big Horn Sheep sightings are not uncommon so keep your eyes open and your camera ready.
External LinksAngeles National Forest
Adventure Pass information
California Dept. of Transportation