Features: Birding — Fall Colors — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
There are some sections of loose rock, but overall the trail is in very good condition. This is a fun descent and a good trail to pick up some speed as the trail widens and the terrain is flatter.
You can reach the Big Cienega Trail two different ways. The first is to run the Windy Gap Trail
1.1 miles to the junction of Forest Road 3N07 where the Big Cienega Trail also joins. If you want to head uphill on the Big Cienega Trail from here, turn left. Though, if you want to run the Mount Islip Loop
, and the Big Cienega Trail from the other direction, continue straight on the Windy Gap Trail
When you reach Windy Gap, you need to continue northwest on the Windy Gap Trail
until you reach the junction with the Mount Islip Trail
. From this junction, you'll ascend west (left) on the Islip Ridge Trail
to the summit of Mount Islip. After enjoying the summit and catching your breath, first begin your short descent south where you'll join up with the Islip Ridge Trail
. From here, head west (right) down the Islip Ridge Trail
After descending down the Islip Ridge Trail
, you'll finally join up with the Big Cienega Trail, which will lead you back to the Windy Gap Trail
. 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 making the trail hard to follow, as the terrain is heavily eroded and bare of vegetation. When you reach the junction with Forest Road 3N07, turn west (right) on the Windy Gap Trail
, and continue on the homestretch downhill to the trailhead.
The Crystal Lake Basin provides beautiful 360-degree scenery of alpine flowers and various types of coniferous trees. Though here wildfire scars can be seen across the basin left over from the 2002 Curve Fire, a reminder that the San Gabriel Mountains landscape is ever-changing.