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High above the L.A. fog and smog, ascend Mount Islip in the San Gabriel Mountains for a view of the Mojave Desert.

Eight thousand feet above the monotonous, flat grid of San Gabriel Valley streets, Mount Islip pokes its head above the sticky, warm marine layer and basks in cooler, drier, pine-scented air. The view from the summit is comprehensive -- north over the Mojave Desert toward peaks as far afield as Death Valley National Park, and south over the vast L.A. metropolis, clear air permitting.

Two main hiking approaches to Islip's summit are available: from Crystal Lake Recreation Area (out of Azusa) in the south, and from Angeles Crest Highway in the north. The north approach takes you through aromatic pine and fir forests most of the way. Two variations of the shorter and easier north approach will be described here.

Drive up Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) from either La Canada in the west or Wrightwood in the east to a gated fire road on the south side of the highway at mile 65.5 (as reckoned by the mileage signs posted irregularly along the highway shoulder). Walk up the pinecone-strewn fire road to where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses it, 0.5 mile up and 350 feet higher. Both the fire road and the PCT go south and east to Little Jimmy Campground, but the trail is nicer.

Little Jimmy Campground, which honors early-century newspaper cartoonist Jimmy Swinnerton (creator of the "Little Jimmy" comic strip), who spent a pleasant summer here in 1909, nestles comfortably in a little flat shaded by statuesque pines. Tables and stoves make this a convenient spot for a picnic or an overnight layover for backpackers.

From the campground, the summit trail goes uphill (west at first) and continues looping upward to gain Mt. Islip's east shoulder. You ascend along this shoulder, swing around two switchbacks just below the summit, and arrive at the shell of an old stone hut on top. Look for the footings of a fire lookout tower that was constructed here in 1927. The tower was moved to nearby South Mount Hawkins in 1937.

The route just described measures 5.6 miles round trip. If you care to add another mile of round-trip distance to the hike, then start walking from Islip Saddle, mile 64.1 on Angeles Crest Highway, and follow the Pacific Crest Trail all the way to Little Jimmy Campground.

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Eight thousand feet above the monotonous, flat grid of San Gabriel Valley streets, Mount Islip pokes its head above the sticky, warm marine layer and basks in cooler, drier, pine-scented air. The view from the summit is comprehensive -- north over the Mojave Desert toward peaks as far afield as Death Valley National Park, and south over the vast L.A. metropolis, clear air permitting.

Two main hiking approaches to Islip's summit are available: from Crystal Lake Recreation Area (out of Azusa) in the south, and from Angeles Crest Highway in the north. The north approach takes you through aromatic pine and fir forests most of the way. Two variations of the shorter and easier north approach will be described here.

Drive up Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) from either La Canada in the west or Wrightwood in the east to a gated fire road on the south side of the highway at mile 65.5 (as reckoned by the mileage signs posted irregularly along the highway shoulder). Walk up the pinecone-strewn fire road to where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses it, 0.5 mile up and 350 feet higher. Both the fire road and the PCT go south and east to Little Jimmy Campground, but the trail is nicer.

Little Jimmy Campground, which honors early-century newspaper cartoonist Jimmy Swinnerton (creator of the "Little Jimmy" comic strip), who spent a pleasant summer here in 1909, nestles comfortably in a little flat shaded by statuesque pines. Tables and stoves make this a convenient spot for a picnic or an overnight layover for backpackers.

From the campground, the summit trail goes uphill (west at first) and continues looping upward to gain Mt. Islip's east shoulder. You ascend along this shoulder, swing around two switchbacks just below the summit, and arrive at the shell of an old stone hut on top. Look for the footings of a fire lookout tower that was constructed here in 1927. The tower was moved to nearby South Mount Hawkins in 1937.

The route just described measures 5.6 miles round trip. If you care to add another mile of round-trip distance to the hike, then start walking from Islip Saddle, mile 64.1 on Angeles Crest Highway, and follow the Pacific Crest Trail all the way to Little Jimmy Campground.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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