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El Prieto to Brown Mountain Loop

Intermediate
 3.9 (15) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A challenging wooded climb, great views, and a fast descent.


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Map Key

8.2

Miles

13.2

KM

89%

Runnable

2,385' 727 m

High

1,152' 351 m

Low

1,254' 382 m

Up

1,254' 382 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

17%

Max Grade (10°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

The best moderate loop in the Pasadena/Altadena front range of the San Gabriels. Although the El Prieto climb is a bit challenging, it's wooded, crosses multiple streams, and is pretty. The descent on Brown Mountain Road and Fern Truck Trail isn't too steep, has nice views, and can be done pretty fast.

Need to Know

Rocky, rooty, and a challenging uphill.

Runner Notes

This loop has a challenging ascent. Watch out for mountain bikers descending the El Prieto Trail. It is generally easy to let them pass, and they are always friendly, because it's a great trail.

Description

From the parking lot near the JPL entrance, follow the paved trail that turns to a dirt road for about 1.25 miles. Take the right fork towards El Prieto/Brown Mountain for about 0.25 miles, then stay right onto El Prieto.

Follow this steep trail for about 2 miles until you reach Brown Mountain Fire Road. Turn left here and climb up to the saddle between Brown Mountain Fire Road and Fern Truck Trail. Descend down Fern Truck Trail (also called Brown Mountain; the left-most trail when you reach the saddle) back to the junction where you took El Prieto, and head back the way to came to the parking lot.

You can also do the loop in reverse, but running down El Prieto is a little less desirable. You can also add an out-and-back from the Brown Mountain Saddle towards Ken Burton Trail if you are looking for a longer run. El Prieto has a few off-shoots, but they'll all reach Brown Mountain eventually.

Flora & Fauna

Might see some coyotes, deer, and rabbits.

Shared By:

Justin Jasper

Trail Ratings

  3.9 from 15 votes

#2

in Pasadena

#2350

Overall
  3.9 from 15 votes
5 Star
27%
4 Star
53%
3 Star
13%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
7%
Recommended Route Rankings

#2

in Pasadena

#320

in California

#2,350

Overall
136 Views Last Month
6,896 Since Nov 4, 2015
Intermediate

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85%
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15%
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Photos

View at at the Junction of Fern Truck and Brown Mountain Trail. There are two benches to appreciate the view.
Mar 30, 2020 near La Caña…, CA
Top of El Prieto Trail before you start hiking the saddle
Mar 30, 2020 near La Caña…, CA
The view south towards Altadena from the Brown Mountain Saddle.
Mar 13, 2019 near La Caña…, CA
Brown Mountain Saddle looking north
Mar 13, 2019 near La Caña…, CA
Looking down El Prieto Canyon from Brown Mountain Trail.
Dec 18, 2015 near La Caña…, CA
Looking up towards Brown Mountain saddle, where Fern Truck Trail and Brown Mountain Trail split.
Dec 18, 2015 near La Caña…, CA

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Check-Ins

Oct 7, 2020
Jon M
Cool and pleasant, minimal traffic during a weekday morning.
Jan 13, 2020
Daniel Pastor
13.2mi
Jan 3, 2018
Kyle Feig
Beautiful hike. Was scared to death a biker was going to hit me but going up the trial to the right and coming down on the left seemed to prevent that 6.8mi
Jun 15, 2017
Andrew Velasquez
Apr 2, 2017
Jose Hernandez
Pasadena Trail Race Series 10Mi 10mi — 1h 41m
May 14, 2016
Andy Kiehl
poison oak over trail on prieta — 1h 11m