The route described here is the shortest route to Mt. Markham (5,742 ft.). Eaton Saddle (5,110 ft.) is a popular trailhead in the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains and affords a 1 and ½ mile dirt road and trail route to the summit of Mt. Markham with 632 feet of gain.
From 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 2.3 miles to the Eaton Saddle trailhead (there is a parking area here on both sides of the road).
From the Eaton Saddle trailhead parking area, pass the white gate (see photo)
and hike west on the dirt Mt. Lowe Fire Road. You will immediately see, to the right, the massive south face of San Gabriel Peak (6,161 ft.). On your left, you’ll get great views of the deep, rugged canyon snaking toward Eaton Canyon, as shown in the photo below:
In a little over a quarter of a mile, you will pass through the Mueller Tunnel, which tunnel was blasted right through San Gabriel Peak’s south face. Here’s a view of the tunnel mouth facing your direction of travel:
In about ½ mile, you’ll come to Markham Saddle between Mt. Markham and San Gabriel Peak. Here, a trail to the right goes to San Gabriel Peak and Mt. Disappointment (5,960 ft.). Your route is to the left. Step off the fire road onto a signed trail (12W14). This trail runs along the northwest flank of Mt. Markham and affords lots of shady oak tree cover along the way. The fire road you were just on down below parallels the trail.
Follow the trail to a saddle between Mt. Markham and Mt. Lowe (5,603 ft.). A trail straight ahead ascends to Mt. Lowe. Your route is the left, a use trail running along Mt. Markham’s northeast ridge. Ascend the ridge to the summit.
None. Running shoes are adequate for this route. There are no water sources along the way so bring what you need.
You 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 trailhead mentioned here) ($5 per day or $30 for a yearly pass). Otherwise, they are sold at sporting good stores.
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