Quantcast
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

Inspiration Point

Long gone are the days when tourists traveled to Inspiration Point — high above Pasadena in the San Gabriel Mountains — by way of the Mount Lowe Railway. The railway, Southern California’s premier tourist attraction for a time, carried more than three million passengers between the 1890s and the 1930s. These days, only occasional hikers make their way to Inspiration Point to gape at the now-almost-completely-transformed Los Angeles Basin.

To get to Inspiration Point in the most expedient way, navigate by car to L.A.’s Foothill Freeway (Interstate 210), and exit at Angeles Crest Highway in the community of La Canada Flintridge. Drive 13.5 miles north and east to Red Box Station and the intersection of Mount Wilson Road. Turn right on Mount Wilson Road and proceed 2.4 miles to a roadside parking area at Eaton Saddle. The remainder of your journey is on foot, six miles round trip, with a drop of about 1500 vertical feet and a climb back up. Make sure you save most of your energy for the trip back, and do take snacks and water!

From Eaton Saddle, walk past the gate on the west side and proceed up the dirt road (Mount Lowe Fire Road) that carves its way across a sheer slope and through a short tunnel. At Markham Saddle (0.5 mile) the fire road starts to descend slightly. Don’t continue on the fire road. Instead, find the Mount Lowe Trail on the left (south). Using it, you contour southwest above the fire road for about 0.6 mile, and then start climbing across the east flank of Mount Lowe without much change of direction.

At 1.3 miles, there’s a trail junction. Go either way (straight for the east trail, sharply right for the west trail), but plan to use the other trail on your return. These two alternate trails were popular during the era of the railway, and both were reconstructed for modern-day hiking in the late 1980s.

Either way (east or west trail) you’ll end up descending to meet the Mount Lowe Fire Road at a spot near the Mount Lowe Trail Camp, a popular site for overnight backpackers. Go south on the fire road to Inspiration Point (3.0 miles from the start), where the view is indeed inspiring as long as the marine inversion layer lies low across the L.A. Basin. On very clear days (more characteristic of winter than summer) Santa Catalina Island and San Clemente Island can be seen far to the south.

Inspiration Point marked the terminus of the Mount Lowe Railway, but by 1915 tourists could jump on board a mule-pushed (not drawn, so passengers could avoid dust) observation car that rolled along narrow-gauge rails leading one more mile to an even more panoramic spot known as Panorama Point. You can do that same side trip today, not by riding but rather by walking along a near-level roadway that ends at a concrete water tank. Views of the L.A. Basin from that spot are probably more fantastic than from any other land-based vantage point. On a clear night, the view of millions of lights almost a mile of elevation lower is surreal. From this close-in point, less than two beeline miles from the edge of the city, the soft droning of a hundred thousand engines, accented now and again by an accelerating motorcycle or unmuffled car, floats upward on the updrafts.

Return the way you came, except in circling Mount Lowe.

This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse experience.

Inspiration Point
Hike to Inspiration Point in the San Gabriel Mountains, where the L.A. Basin lies at your feet.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 150 miles
Hiking length: 6 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

There are four differences between the two pictures of protests below. Can you spot them? Check the answers to see how you did!

Spot the Difference!
Next Article

Southeast Locals – a well-educated, violent San Diego gang

Psychiatrist goes bad, Chula Vista crime lab, San Diegans on death row, computer hacker's thinking, darkness in Sabre Springs

Long gone are the days when tourists traveled to Inspiration Point — high above Pasadena in the San Gabriel Mountains — by way of the Mount Lowe Railway. The railway, Southern California’s premier tourist attraction for a time, carried more than three million passengers between the 1890s and the 1930s. These days, only occasional hikers make their way to Inspiration Point to gape at the now-almost-completely-transformed Los Angeles Basin.

To get to Inspiration Point in the most expedient way, navigate by car to L.A.’s Foothill Freeway (Interstate 210), and exit at Angeles Crest Highway in the community of La Canada Flintridge. Drive 13.5 miles north and east to Red Box Station and the intersection of Mount Wilson Road. Turn right on Mount Wilson Road and proceed 2.4 miles to a roadside parking area at Eaton Saddle. The remainder of your journey is on foot, six miles round trip, with a drop of about 1500 vertical feet and a climb back up. Make sure you save most of your energy for the trip back, and do take snacks and water!

From Eaton Saddle, walk past the gate on the west side and proceed up the dirt road (Mount Lowe Fire Road) that carves its way across a sheer slope and through a short tunnel. At Markham Saddle (0.5 mile) the fire road starts to descend slightly. Don’t continue on the fire road. Instead, find the Mount Lowe Trail on the left (south). Using it, you contour southwest above the fire road for about 0.6 mile, and then start climbing across the east flank of Mount Lowe without much change of direction.

At 1.3 miles, there’s a trail junction. Go either way (straight for the east trail, sharply right for the west trail), but plan to use the other trail on your return. These two alternate trails were popular during the era of the railway, and both were reconstructed for modern-day hiking in the late 1980s.

Either way (east or west trail) you’ll end up descending to meet the Mount Lowe Fire Road at a spot near the Mount Lowe Trail Camp, a popular site for overnight backpackers. Go south on the fire road to Inspiration Point (3.0 miles from the start), where the view is indeed inspiring as long as the marine inversion layer lies low across the L.A. Basin. On very clear days (more characteristic of winter than summer) Santa Catalina Island and San Clemente Island can be seen far to the south.

Inspiration Point marked the terminus of the Mount Lowe Railway, but by 1915 tourists could jump on board a mule-pushed (not drawn, so passengers could avoid dust) observation car that rolled along narrow-gauge rails leading one more mile to an even more panoramic spot known as Panorama Point. You can do that same side trip today, not by riding but rather by walking along a near-level roadway that ends at a concrete water tank. Views of the L.A. Basin from that spot are probably more fantastic than from any other land-based vantage point. On a clear night, the view of millions of lights almost a mile of elevation lower is surreal. From this close-in point, less than two beeline miles from the edge of the city, the soft droning of a hundred thousand engines, accented now and again by an accelerating motorcycle or unmuffled car, floats upward on the updrafts.

Return the way you came, except in circling Mount Lowe.

This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse experience.

Inspiration Point
Hike to Inspiration Point in the San Gabriel Mountains, where the L.A. Basin lies at your feet.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 150 miles
Hiking length: 6 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Paw-Micon, Binge

Events July 7-July 8, 2020
Next Article

Statues stored for sake of safety (and sanity)

Monu-mental
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
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
Close