“This is the popular route to Mt. Lowe.”
— Alan Coles
Spring · Views · Wildflowers
This route can be used for those wanting an easy run to reach the summit of Mt. Lowe or for those who want a longer outing with a loop option to view this historic area. This route is also a good backpacking destination.
Start from the parking area at Eaton Saddle on the Mt. Wilson-Red Box Road. Take the Mt. Lowe Road #2N50
west and note the remnants of the old trail on the outside of the Mueller Tunnel. There are usually some large rocks on the road along this portion that demonstrate the instability of the slope on the southside of San Gabriel Peak. There are some fine views to the south into Eaton Canyon.
The road reaches Markham Saddle in about 0.5 miles where the San Gabriel Peak Trail #12W24
goes north near a water tank. Take the Upper Sam Merrill Trail 12W14.3
, which goes south and parallels the road on a generally level path through chaparral of mostly scrub oak and ceanothus. It reaches a saddle where a well-used path heads northeast to the summit of Mt. Markham. The trail gently climbs another 0.2 miles and reaches a trail junction with the Mt. Lowe East Trail 12W14.3A
***For those who want a shorter run, turn right and go another 0.2 miles to another junction. The summit is just a short distance on the left fork.***
If following this run as mapped, turn left to follow Mt. Lowe East Trail 12W14.3A
and take the trail along the east side of the mountain, which offers good views into Eaton Canyon and Mt. Wilson. The trail turns west and descends through a series of switchbacks entering some welcomed shade from bigcone spruce and oaks trees. Be careful to avoid the shortcut going down the south ridge. A trail junction is reached near the Mt. Lowe Road #2N50
. Take the right fork as it gently contours around the mountain and drops down to the road. Look for and take the Mt. Lowe Trail Camp Connector Trail
on the opposite side of the road, which leads to the well shaded camp.
The Mt. Lowe Trail Camp was once the terminus of the Mt. Lowe Railway and had an impressive lodge with many recreational facilities. There is a spring that usually has water but it should be treated first. This is a good lunch spot and a well deserved rest for the climb back to the summit.
Head back along the same trail to the road. Take the Upper Sam Merrill Trail 12W14.3
(sometimes referred to as "Mt. Lowe West Trail") which is just 50 feet north of where the Mt. Lowe East Connector Trail
came down. The trail climbs gently with limited shade from oaks, bay, and bigcone spruce. There are some nice manzanita bushes in the unburned areas of the trail. The path steepens where the trail begins a series of short switchbacks. A junction is reached near the summit. Take the right fork onto the Mt. Lowe West Trail 12W14.3B
to reach the top. There is interpretive information and a bench on the wide summit. On a clear day the views of the surrounding peaks and of the Los Angeles Basin can be impressive.
When you are done admiring the view, take the trail back to the junction and turn right. In 0.2 miles the junction with the Mt. Lowe East Trail 12W14.3A
is reached. Turn left and return the same way with a gentle downhill descent back to Eaton Saddle.
Flora & Fauna
You'll find mostly chaparral of scrub oak, ceanothus, laurel sumac, and sage. Some shaded areas of live oaks, bigcone spruce and bays can also be found.
History & Background
The Mount Lowe Preservation Society has information about the railroad and buildings. For more information and volunteer opportunities, contact The Scenic Mount Lowe Railway Historical Committee.