Mt. Markham, in the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains, is seemingly a neglected peak, at least in terms of guidebook mention. The hiking “bible” for the San Gabriel Mountains, Robinson’s Trails of the Angeles
, does not mention Mt. Markham, although it includes hikes to Markham’s immediate neighbors, San Gabriel Peak, Mt. Disappointment and Mt. Lowe. Be that as it may, Mt. Markham is worthy of a visit if you’re in the neighborhood. Because the main route to this peak is from a trailhead that is only 1 and ½ miles from the summit, with 632 feet of gain, you may want to include in your trip to Markham some or all the nearby peaks mentioned above for a more generous outing.
Mt. Markham has a distinctive profile, its shape depending upon the direction from which you’re viewing it. From Eaton Saddle trailhead (northeast), the peak looks pointed (see Primary Image). However, from other angles, such as from Mt. Wilson to the southeast, it looks like a table-top mountain. In fact, before 1890, it was known as “Square Top” or “Table Mountain.”
Adding a little flavor to this climb is that, after a fire road and trail segment, the last part of the route follows the peak’s southwest ridge on a use trail with a few knobs to negotiate and a moderately steep section or two.
From the summit, there are great views northeast toward Eaton Saddle and the deep, rugged canyon walls in that direction. Likewise, the views south into the upper reaches of Eaton Canyon itself are magnificent. Cast your gaze a little to the northwest, right across Markham Saddle, and you'll be looking at the south face of Mt. Markham's taller neighbor, 6,161 foot San Gabriel Peak.
The principal route to Mt. Markham is from the Eaton Saddle trailhead, which trailhead is off of the paved road leading to Mt. Wilson (Mt. Wilson Road). This trailhead is at 5,110 feet, so you’ve only got 632 feet of gain to the summit and a round trip of 3 miles.
There is even a technical route on the mountain's east face dubbed "The Ramp." It is about 3 pitches of 5.3 trad climbing favoring cam placements, but with plenty of infamous San Gabriel range loose rock. See the route page for The Ramp.
There are other access points to this mountain besides the Eaton Saddle trailhead, such as trails coming in from the west and southwest. The commonality is that you have to get to the saddle between Mt. Markham and Mt. Lowe to access Markham’s southwest ridge use trail described above.
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).
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.
No permits are required for hiking.
While there are lots of campgrounds in the Angeles National Forest, there are none in the immediate vicinity of this peak.
Check forecast information for nearby Mt. Wilson in local newspapers or internet weather services. Snow is, of course, common at elevations above 3,000 feet during the winter.
SEE CORRECTIONS AND ADDITIONS SECTION ON LEFT OF PAGE FOR A REPORT ON ACCESS CLOSURE FROM EATON SADDLE AS OF MID-APRIL 2009.
Angeles National Forest
USGS Topo Maps:Pasadena 7.5; Mt. Wilson 7.5.