Overview: John Muir Remembered in the San Gabriels
Muir Peak, known as Mount Muir on the Sierra Club's Lower Peak Committee list, has a famous name, despite its “lower peak” status. However, if you look for it on the 1995 Mt. Wilson 7.5 quadrangle, you will see “Muir Peak” placed on what is actually Inspiration Peak. So don’t go to Muir Peak on the Mt. Wilson 7.5 topo. Instead, head to the bump at elevation 4,688’ and you will be at Muir.
Muir Peak is beautifully positioned for views. It commands a view of nearly the entire span of that big front range chasm, Eaton Canyon, all the way from Pasadena to where the canyon abuts the base of San Gabriel Peak at Eaton Saddle. To the west, when it is clear, the ocean and Catalina Island rest in the distance. Due north, San Gabriel Peak is the highest point around. From there, sweeping southeast, you will note distinctively shaped Occidental Peak, then the array of towers on Mt. Wilson and Mt. Harvard.
San Gabriel Peak (L) and Eaton Saddle (C) from summit of Muir Peak 5/27/07 Occidental Peak from fire road en route to Muir Peak, 5/27/07
In less than half a day, you can do the triple low peak package of Echo Mountain (on the way to Muir by the recommended route below), Inspiration Peak, ¼ mile northwest of the Inspiration Point ramada/lookout, and Muir Peak, about a half mile from Inspiration Peak.
Echo Mtn. (3,207') from Castle Canyon Trail
Inspiration Peak (4,714')from near Inspiration Point ramada/lookout
The recommended route is to start at the trailhead for the Lower Sam Merrill Trail at the top of Lake Avenue in Pasadena. It is also known as the Cobb Estate Trailhead. The Lower Sam Merrill Trail initially crosses Las Flores Canyon and then winds up the east side of that canyon for about 2.5 miles to Echo Mountain.
Where the Lower Sam Merrill Trail crosses Las Flores Canyon
From Echo Mountain, take the steep Castle Canyon Trail up rugged Castle Canyon 2 miles to the ramada/lookout at Inspiration Point.
Castle Canyon seen from Echo Mtn. 2/3/07
Inspiration Point Ramada/Lookout
From Inspiration Point, the peak is southeast just a little over a mile. As you top out on the Castle Canyon Trail directly onto the Inspiration Point ramada/lookout, take a right on the fire road that intersects the trail. Hike about ¾ mile on the fire road (you are going southeast) and look for a marked cut-off on your right. A use trail ascends about ¼ mile to the summit. The round trip for this route is about 12 miles with 3,000 feet of gain.
Alternative routes include (1) coming from the north on trail or fire road from the Mt. Lowe area; there are different ways to get to the vicinity of Mt. Lowe, but a common way is from Eaton Saddle; (2) coming from the southeast on the Idlehour Trail off of the Mt. Wilson Toll Road; or (3) coming from the west on the Sunset Ridge-Mt. Lowe Fire Road and crossing over to Echo Mountain on the ½ mile Echo Mountain Trail.
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 gate eastward on a path alongside a fence. In a couple of hundred yards you will come to another trail sign for Echo Mountain. Drop down onto the trail next to this sign and you will soon cross Las Flores Canyon and begin the ascent to Echo Mountain.
If you hike the recommended 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 Forest. For the alternate routes mentioned above, an Adventure Pass or Golden Eagle Pass will be required to park your vehicle at the trailheads with one exception: if you start your hike at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center which provides access to the Mt. Wilson Toll Road and Idlehour Trail, you will not need an Adventure Pass.
Adventure Passes ($5 per day or $30 for a yearly pass) can be purchased at many ranger or information stations within the Angeles National Forest and at most southern California sporting goods stores.
No permits are needed for hiking any of the routes to this peak.
The Mt. Lowe Campground, about 2 miles away, is the closest camping site to this peak. The Idlehour Campground is about 4 miles away southeast along the Idlehour Trail.
When to Climb
Year round. Even in winter, snow is a relatively rare visitor at this elevation.
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 at the first canyon creek crossing, but you would certainly want to treat it. It is best to carry all the water you need inasmuch as the roundtrip on the recommended route is only approximately 12 miles.
USGS Topos Mt. Wilson 7.5 (with caveat in Overview)
External LinksInformation on Angeles National Forest