OverviewThis peak is the second highest in the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains missing out as number one by a mere three feet. Strawberry Peak is the highest at 6164 ft. San Gabriel Peak stands between the antennae- laden summits of Mt. Wilson and Mt. Disappointment, and thus is relatively easy to spot on the skyline. The view below of San Gabriel Peak (center, back) is from the north:
The two trails that take you to San Gabriel Peak’s summit are relatively well maintained and make for easy walk-ups. This is a good peak for beginners or if you just want to stretch your legs. But its close proximity to other peaks (Mt. Disappointment, Mt. Lowe, Mt. Markham, Brown Mountain) means that you can stretch out your hike to get in a good workout by including some or all of these other summits.
On San Gabriel Peak’s summit, several concrete footings are all that remain of a fire lookout tower that stood from 1928 to 1937. Patches of oak trees on the summit partially block views, but you still get a good 360-degree panorama. On a clear day, you can see Catalina Island toward the southwest. To the east stands 10,064 foot Mt. Baldy at the other end of the San Gabriel range. Looking southeast, you get a glimpse of Mt. San Jacinto (10,804 ft.) in Riverside County and Saddleback Mountain in Orange County.
As mentioned, there are two principal routes to the top. One is from the Eaton Saddle trailhead (5,110 ft.), which trailhead is off of the paved road leading to Mt. Wilson (Mt. Wilson Road). This route is a 4 mile roundtrip with about 1000 feet of gain. There is lots of sun-exposed terrain on this route so be prepared for this if hiking this trail during the summer months.
The other route is from the Mt. Disappointment Fire Road trailhead. This trailhead is also off of the Mt. Wilson Road. The trail here is the San Gabriel Peak Trail and the route is about 4 ½ miles roundtrip with 1,400 feet of gain.
Getting ThereFrom the 210 Freeway, exit at Angeles Crest Hwy (SR 2) and go north. At 9.5 miles, you will come to the Clear Creek Ranger Station and the junction with Angeles Forest Highway. Continue straight on SR 2 about 4.5 miles to the junction with the Mount Wilson Road at the Red Box Ranger Station. Turn right. Drive 0.4 miles to the Mt. Disappointment Fire Road trailhead (watch for it carefully on the right because it is easy to miss) or 2.3 miles to the Eaton Saddle trailhead (there is a parking area here on both sides of the road).
Red TapeYou will need an Adventure Pass to park your vehicle anywhere within the Angeles National Forest. These passes are not sold at most trailheads. However, they are currently sold at the Red Box Ranger Station (thus on the way to the two trailheads mentioned here) ($5 per day or $30 for a yearly pass). Otherwise, they are sold at sporting good stores.
No permits are required for hiking.