This trail route is a more scenic alternative to the more heavily used route up the Lower Sam Merrill Trail from the Cobb Estate trailhead at the top of Lake Avenue in Pasadena. Two different trails comprise this route, the Sunset Ridge Trail and the Echo Mountain Trail. The Sunset Ridge Trail starts out contouring the Sunset ridge above Millard Canyon and, near the canyon bottom, begins an ascent to the top of the ridge and there connects with the Sunset Ridge-Mt. Lowe Fire Road. Up the fire road about 100 yards is the start of the ½ mile Echo Mountain Trail, which trail connects the ridge with the summit of Echo Mountain.
Sunset Ridge Trailhead
From the 210 Freeway exit at Fair Oaks Ave. and take Fair Oaks north toward the mountains. At Loma Alta Drive, turn left and proceed about ½ mile to Chaney Trail Drive. The intersection is marked by a flashing yellow traffic signal. Turn right onto Chaney Trail Drive and ascend to Sunset ridge where you will come to a junction. Going to the left takes you down to Millard Canyon Campground. Instead, look immediately to your right and you will see a white fire road gate and some very limited parking along the road in front of the gate. If this parking area is full, start back down Chaney Trail Drive and you will find lots of parking along the road.
Walk to and past the fire road gate and you are on your way.
From the fire road gate at the trailhead, begin hiking up the Sunset Ridge-Mt. Lowe Fire Road. Within 100 yards you will pass the point where the Altadena Crest Trail crosses the fire road. About 400 yards further along the fire road, you will come to the start of the Sunset Ridge Trail off to your left. The start is marked by a sign.
Beginning of Sunset Ridge Trail
Get off the fire road onto the trail and you will begin contouring Sunset ridge above Millard Canyon. This part of the trail is very easy traverse. Often, when there is plenty of water, you can hear the roar from the 50-foot Millard Canyon Falls below you on your left.
Looking up Millard Canyon from the Sunset Ridge Trail
About ½ mile from the start of the trail, you will come to a junction. To your left is a bridge crossing over to the creek that winds down the canyon. A popular destination following the creek upstream is Dawn Mine, where gold was once mined. The Sunset Ridge Trail, however, continues to the right (it is marked by a sign here as well), but now the trail begins to climb out of the canyon. In about 1 mile of ascent, you will arrive at Sierra Saddle/Sierra Camp.
Looking north from Sierra Saddle along Sunset Ridge Trail
Continue ascending from Sierra Saddle. Millard Canyon is a constant companion on your left.
The Sunset Ridge trail ends 2.5 miles from its start by connecting once again with the fire road. At this point, go left on the fire road and in about 100 yards you will come to the beginning of the Echo Mountain Trail. This ½ mile trail traverses between Sunset ridge and the summit of Echo Mountain.
Start of Echo Mountain Trail off fire road
A round trip to Echo Mountain by the route described here will be about 7 miles total with about 900 feet of elevation gain.
Echo Mountain (right) seen from Sunset ridge
You will need an Adventure Pass or Golden Eagle Pass to park your vehicle at the Sunset Ridge trailhead. There have only been rare occasions when Adventure Passes ($5 per day or $30 for a yearly pass) were sold at this trailhead. It is best to purchase one beforehand. They are sold at most sporting goods stores in southern California.
No permit is required to hike the route described here.
None. These trails can be hiked in trail runners.
This route can be hiked year round. Because of their low elevation, the trails comprising this route normally do not get snow, even in winter. There is water available from the creek where the Sunset Ridge Trail nearly meets the creek by the bridge mentioned above. However, the water should be treated.
The Sunset Ridge trailhead is accessible year round. However, be advised that access by vehicle to Chaney Trail Drive leading to the trailhead is only allowed, according to a warning sign, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily.
USGS Topos Pasadena 7.5
External Links Angeles National Forest