Another fun front range hike with easy access from Altadena is the hike up Echo Mountain vía Sam Merrill Trail. The trail begins at what was once the Cobb Estate at the end of Lake Avenue and Loma Alta Drive. From here, you may also hike Altadena Crest Trail.
The hike to Echo Mountain is just over 5.5 miles out and back and offers over 1400 feet of elevation gain. The trail is rated as moderate, is narrow at points, and offers very little shade. That said, it is a great warm up hike. There are some cool historic ruins at the top, remnants from the Echo Mountain House hotel and the famed Mt. Lowe Railway. These structures were destroyed by fire and flood in the earlier part of the twentieth century.
We used to attempt this hike often with the kids when they were small, usually making it only about halfway up, as we would naively choose the hottest day of the year to attempt it. These days, they can make it up relatively quickly. There is a picnic area at the top which is nicely shaded, the perfect spot for a packed lunch. If you want more adventure, you can continue onto Inspiration Point, which adds about four miles round trip. By the time we get to the ruins, the kids typically want to hang out, explore, and eat a ton of snacks, so we usually stop with Echo Mountain.
Some things to consider:
Parking is street parking in a residential area. Forest adventure passes are not required as the trail starts just outside the boundary of the national forest. Just be sure to observe any posted signs, and be considerate of the residents who live there.
The trail is for the most part, not shaded. Please bring plenty of water and sun protection.
Echo Mountain is very popular, with its easy access from the Altadena/Pasadena area. The trail can get very busy especially on weekends.
This is a fun trail to do with the family, especially if you make it to the ruins. Dogs are welcome on leash; Owen enjoys this hike on cooler days, as well as exploring around the former Cobb Estate. Happy trails!
*This article has been updated on July 5, 2022. The masking mandates have been removed, and the trail remains open for fun and adventure.