Mount Islip Loop
ElevationAscent: 2,413' 736 m
Descent: -2,413' -736 m
High: 8,245' 2,513 m
Low: 5,835' 1,779 m
GradeAvg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 31% (17°)
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“Enjoy peace and solitude in the San Gabriel Mountains, only 1.5 hours from Los Angeles.”— Taylor Reilly
The San Gabriel Mountains are some of the fastest eroding mountains in the world, and with the past fire damage extreme erosion, this is now even more of a problem. The actual trail surface is fairly stable for the most part; though please stay on the trail as the surrounding terrain is still in the process of re-vegetation, which will help prevent erosion over time.
The Windy Gap Trail #9W06 first takes you up 1,740 feet over 2.5 miles to Windy Gap, a pass along the Islip Ridge. During the ascent through the Crystal Lake Basin, you'll see remnants of the 2002 Curve Fire that devastated the area. Some of the trail's terrain is loose though volunteers have done a good job containing major washouts and clearing the trail of loose rocks.
When you reach Windy Gap, you can access the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. You'll continue northwest (left fork) on Mt. Islip Connector Trail until you reach the junction with the Mt. Islip Trail #9W05. From this junction, ascend west (left) on the Mount Islip Trail to the summit of Mount Islip.
You'll pass the junction with the Islip Ridge Trail #9W08 below the summit, which continues straight along the ridge. You'll come back to this junction and use it for your descent. After reaching the summit, you'll find ruins of an old stone cabin that was built to house the fire lookout that was once stationed on the summit. From Mount Islip summit there are panoramic views of San Gabriel Canyon to the south and the Mojave Desert to the north.
After enjoying the summit and catching your breath, first begin your short descent south where you'll join up with the Islip Ridge Trail #9W08. From here, run west (right) down the Islip Ridge Trail #9W08. During your descent, you'll pass some rare limber pines along the ridge. Along the way, you'll have a clear view back east across the Crystal Lake Basin to Windy Gap along the Islip Ridge. This section of trail has very evident fire scars from the 2002 Curve Fire but the area is recovering well and the trail is in good shape.
After descending the Islip Ridge Trail #9W08, you'll come to a junction with the Big Cienega Trail #9W07 (left turn), which will lead you back to the Windy Gap Trail #9W06. This is a fun descent and a good trail to pick up some speed as the trail widens and the terrain is flatter. You'll pass through patches of Jeffrey and sugar pines along with white fir that survived the fire and cross a spring with wildflowers about midway. When you reach the junction with the Windy Gap Trail #9W06, turn right and continue on the homestretch downhill to the trailhead.
Use this last section of flatter terrain for your cool-down, before making it down to the car. After making it to the trailhead parking lot, reward yourself with some food, beverages, and ice cream at the Crystal Lake Basin Snack Bar and Trading Post.
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Land Manager: USFS - Angeles National Forest Office