OverviewLocated deep in the Angeles National Forests, South Mount Hawkins is the southern peak along a ridge that includes Mount Hawkins, Middle Hawkins and Sadie Hawkins. The area (including South Mount Hawkins' Lookout tower) was heavily burned during the 2002 Curve fire and has a long way to go to recover. Some areas were spared and even with the fire scaring, the area is beautiful and well worth visiting. The mountain itself looks a little dilapidated, there are burned timbers all over, broken glass and debris from the old lookout tower (that I read they are hoping to rebuild), picnic tables half burnt and some sort of modern building with solar pannels that were blown over and are on the ground. Nothing a little TLC couldn't change.
The mountain was named after Nellie Hawkins, a beautiful waitress of the "Squirrel Inn" located on the North Fork of San Gabriel Canyon. Although the Squirrel Inn is long gone, Nellie has her name on Mt. Hawkins and South Mt. Hawkins. There are two ridge bumps between the two named summits and they are unofficially known as "Middle Hawkins" and "Sadie Hawkins" (source).
Here is the full resolution USGS 7.5 Minute Topo Map.
From 210 in La Canada, take the Angeles Crest Highway (SR2) North to the locked gate (SR2 road closure) at Islip Saddle (approx. 40 miles). There is a large parking lot here. Go across the road and start hiking at the sign post indicating trailhead. This is the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and depending on the time of year you may meet "hardcore" PCT through hikers. You follow the PCT all the way to the ridge near Hawkins to the trail intersection shown here (also loop at GPS Track on Topo Map). At this point follow the signs towards South Mount Hawkins Fire Lookout (So. Hawkins Lookout 2.8 miles). The trail skips to the east side of Middle and Sadie Hawkins Peaks, but I recommend following the ridge and "bagging" these peaks as well. The trail is easy to lose, many of the burnt trees have fallen over the trail, requiring detours. But as long as you follow the ridge you can't go wrong. Worse that could happen is a little extra elevation gain climbing a ridge that you didn't need to. Once at South Mount Hawkins it is easiest to follow the fire road to the top. It loops around the north side. The total mileage to hike to all 4 Hawkins peaks via Islip Saddle is 13.5 miles and 4150 ft elevation gain. If you skip Hawkins and do not summit Sadie and Middle Hawkins, both mileage and elevation would be reduced.
You can also reach South Mount Hawkins via the following options:
From Vincent Gap via Baden-Powell - Mount Burnham - Throop Peak, but this is a little longer.
From Rattlesnake peak via the peak's North-West Ridge (must be close to 16 mile round trip).
From Crystal Lake Recreation Area via the fireroad, but the road into this area is currently closed.
Red TapeYou Need an Adventure Pass to park at Islip Saddle.
CampingBackcountry camping is available at Little Jimmy Campground. You are also allowed to camp in the National Forest as long as you Locate camps at least 200 feet from other camps and 100 feet from trails, springs or streams. Pick a place where you won't have to clear vegetation or level a tent site (Angeles National Forest Regulations).
Car camping is available nearby at Chilao Recreation Area and Buckthorn.
External LinksHPS Peak Page