This trailhead, at elevation 4,760 ft., is tucked away off of the Mt. Wilson Rd. just .3 miles from a major trailhead, Red Box Junction. The trailhead is easily missed unless you know where to look. Nevertheless, this trailhead is worth knowing about because it gives you two access points to San Gabriel Peak (the second highest peak in the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains) and to Mt. Disappointment. The two access points are the paved Mt. Disappointment Fire Road (designated 2N52) and the San Gabriel Peak Trail.
The Mt. Disappointment Fire Road is frequently used by mountain bikers, while the San Gabriel Peak Trail is the better route for hikers.
The Mt. Disappointment Fire Road takes a circuitous route west and then south from the trailhead to the saddle (elevation 5,800 ft.) between Mt. Disappointment and San Gabriel Peak . On the other hand, the San Gabriel Peak Trail ascends more directly first west and then south. The San Gabriel Peak Trail tops out onto the Mt. Disappointment Fire Road just before the saddle. At this point, you have come 2.6 miles if you came via the fire road or 1.3 miles if you came on the trail. From this intersection point, it is about .2 miles on the fire road to the saddle. When you reach the saddle, turn right (northwest) to ascend the rest of the paved fire road (about .2 miles) to the summit of Mt. Disappointment (5,960 ft.) or go left (southeast) to reach the trail that ascends to the summit (about .5 miles) of San Gabriel Peak (6,161 ft.).
Once you reach the saddle, you can also go southeast and access a trail that will take you in .7 miles to the Mt. Lowe Fire Road. Numerous other trails are accessible from the Mt. Lowe Fire Road going in all directions to peaks and campsites in the San Gabriel front range.
San Gabriel Peak (6,161') seen from the Mt. Lowe Fire Road
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 0.4 miles and look for the turnoff on your right into the trailhead. There is a small parking area next to the white fire road gate.
Walk past the gate and you are on the Mt. Disappointment Fire Road. To get to the San Gabriel Peak Trail, go about 50 yards in the opposite direction from the fire road gate and you will see the beginning of the trail at the base of the slope.
Permits and Red Tape
No permits are required for hiking.
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 Mt. Disappointment Fire Road trailhead ($5 per day or $30 for a yearly pass). Otherwise, they are sold at sporting good stores.
When to Visit
The trailhead is relatively accessible year-round. However, during winter months when it snows, you may need chains to get to this trailhead.
External LinksAngeles National Forest Information