Page Type Page Type: Canyon
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
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Castle Canyon is a steep, rugged fissure of uncommon beauty which extends from Echo Mountain northeast to a ridge on top of which the landmark Inspiration Point is located. From the top of Echo Mountain, one can look straight up Castle Canyon to Inspiration Point.
Castle Canyon, San Gabriel MountainsLooking up Castle Canyon from Echo Mtn. 2/3/07
The steep 2-mile Castle Canyon Trail will take

you from one point to the other.

Castle Canyon juts north from Echo Mountain for about ¾ of a mile and then turns southeast around the head of Rubio Canyon. Here, you cross a creek which generally has water in it. In the second mile, the canyon heads generally northeast until it reaches Inspiration Point.
Ramada (Lookout) at Inspiration PointRamada (Lookout) seen coming out of Castle Canyon 2/3/07

From this location, there is access to numerous other trails and peaks in the San Gabriel front range.

The beginning of the Castle Canyon Trail from Echo Mountain is a traverse on a side exposed to the sun. However, once the trail starts to ascend, it is mostly shaded by lots of spruce and oaks.
Castle CanyonView up Castle Canyon from trail 2/3/07

Castle Canyon from Castle Canyon TrailSteep and rugged Castle Canyon 2/3/07

The trail up the canyon does plenty of zig-zagging but is easy to follow and only gets a little tricky about a ¼ mile from Inspiration Point. You can also scramble up sections of the canyon bottom if you feel like some real cross-country.

Getting There

From the 210 Freeway, take the Lake Avenue exit in Pasadena and go north to the end of Lake Avenue, a distance of about 4 miles. The trailhead is on your right at the top of Lake, marked by a sign. You can park along either side of Lake Ave., or along Alta Loma Drive, which street runs perpendicular into Lake Ave. right at the trailhead. Walk past a stone pillar east on a path alongside a fence. In a couple of hundred yards you will come to another trail sign for Echo Mountain.
Beginning of Lower Sam Merrill TrailStart of Lower Sam Merrill Trail to Echo Mtn.
Drop down onto the trail next to this sign and you will soon cross Las Flores Canyon and begin the ascent to Echo Mountain.

You can also approach Echo Mountain, and thus the access to Castle Canyon, from the Sunset Ridge Trailhead, about 3 miles to the west. See the Sunset Ridge and Echo Mountain Trails route page for pertinent information for this approach.

Red Tape

If you take the standard route from the trailhead at the top of Lake Avenue in Pasadena you will not need an Adventure Pass for your vehicle because the trailhead is not within the Angeles National. For the alternate route mentioned above from the Sunset Ridge Trailhead, an Adventure Pass or Golden Eagle Pass will be required to park your vehicle at that trailhead. Adventure Passes ($5 per day or $30 for a yearly pass) can be purchased at many ranger stations within the Angeles National Forest and at most southern California sporting goods stores.

No permits are needed for the hiking described here.


The Mt. Lowe Campground, less than a mile away from Inspiration Point, is the closest camping site to this peak. The Idlehour Campground is over 2 miles away southwest along the Idlehour Trail.

Other Information

There are no water sources on the section of the hike to Echo Mountain. Going up Castle Canyon Trail, there is some water usually available in the creek where Castle Canyon heads around the top of Rubio Canyon, but you would certainly want to treat it.

USGS Topos Mt. Wilson 7.5

External Links

Angeles National Forest



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.