This trailhead is tucked away on a ridge whose paved fire road opens up the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains. The Sunset Ridge – Mt. Lowe Fire Road begins at this trailhead and winds its way up approximately 9 miles to Eaton Saddle between San Gabriel Peak and Occidental Peak. The fire road is a favorite with mountain bikers. Along the way, numerous trails spin off this fire road which trails take you to a myriad of wonderful destinations in the front range.
From the trailhead fire road gate, you begin hiking up the Sunset Ridge-Mt. Lowe Fire Road. Within 100 yards you will come to the point where the Altadena Crest Trail crosses the fire road. A marked sign to your left points to the ½ mile descent on the Altadena Crest Trail into Millard Campground.
Here, the Altadena Crest Trail drops 1/2 mile into Millard Campground
If you go right on the Altadena Crest Trail, it will take you down into Altadena.
In this direction, the Altadena Crest Trail drops into Altadena
About 400 yards from the start on your left, you will come to the marked Sunset Ridge Trail.
Beginning of Sunset Ridge Trail into Millard Canyon
This trail contours the ridge above Millard Canyon and then ascends along the right side of the canyon to connect with the fire road again in 2.5 miles.
Sunset Ridge-Mt. Lowe Fireroad (L)from near Sierra Saddle
Further up the fire road is the Echo Mountain Trail.
Echo Mountain Trail off of Sunset-Lowe Fire Road
It comes off the fire road on your right and its ½ mile stretch takes you to Echo Mountain (3,207’). Echo Mountain was the site of an upscale resort in the first third of the 1900’s.
Echo Mountain (3,207') seen from Sunset-Lowe Fire Road
View down Millard Canyon from Sunset-Lowe Fire Road at Cape of Good Hope
In about 1/2 mile from the Echo Mountain Trail junction, you will reach a trail on your left that descends into Millard Canyon and the remnants of old gold mine, Dawn Mine.
A little over 3 miles beyond the Dawn Mine trail, you reach the Idlehour Trail on your right. This trail travels southeasterly, passing Idlehour Campground and connecting with the Mt. Wilson Toll Road in 4.5 miles.
Just a little past the Idlehour Trail, the fire road provides access to trails in and around the Mt. Lowe area.
Continuing on the fire road for a little less than ½ mile from the Mt. Lowe access trails, the next major trail you come to is the Sloane Trail. The Sloane Trail comes off the fire road on your left and proceeds northwesterly for about 2 miles to Tom Sloane Saddle. This saddle is itself a major trail junction. One of the trails from this saddle takes you into beautiful Bear Canyon, known for its fabulous standing water pools.
San Gabriel Peak from the Sunset-Lowe Fire Road
After passing the Sloan Trail junction, in 2 more miles, the fire road passes underneath Mt. Lowe.
As you continue, Mt. Disappointment comes into view on your left.
Mt. Disappointment From Sunset-Lowe Fire Road
Mt. Markham seen from Eaton Saddle at end of Sunset-Lowe Fire Road
The fire road then runs through Markham Saddle, right between San Gabriel Peak and Mt. Markham, and ends at Eaton Saddle, about 9 miles from its beginning.
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 spaces along the road in front of the gate. This is the trailhead. If there is no parking here, 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 the Sunset Ridge – Mt. Lowe Fire Road.
Sunset Ridge Trailhead gate
You will need an Adventure Pass to park your vehicle at this 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.
No permits are required to hike any of the trails accessible from this trailhead.
When to Visit
The Sunset Ridge trailhead is accessible year round. Because of its low elevation, the trailhead normally does not get snow, even in winter. 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.