Mt. Lowe 5,604', Mt. Disappointment 5,963', San Gabriel Peak 6,161', 6 miles RT, 1,637 +/-, December 10, 2017

With the cooler weather, it was a good day to explore the front range.  We drove up to Eaton Saddle and started the hike up a fireroad and through the Mueller Tunnel.  We took the trail to summit Mount Lowe first.  There’s a lot of fire damage in this area from the 2009 station fire, but it looks like things are coming back nicely.  I’d seen so many photos and read about the history up in this part of the San Gabriels, so it was exciting to finally check it out.  In 1893 there used to be an electric powered railway here that was constructed by the ambitious Thaddeus S. C. Lowe.  The Mount Lowe Railway would take guests back and forth from the Echo Mountain House (also constructed by Lowe), and today you can still hike to the ruins on Echo Mountain.  We are saving that hike for another day.  In addition, Lowe also constructed a tavern, an observatory and the world's largest search light. Lowe planned to extend his railway up to the summit of Mount Lowe, but sadly many of his endeavors were lost due to fires or natural disasters.  Eventually, he ran out of money.  Today you can look through the viewing tubes on the summit that are strategically placed at points of interest such as Mount Baldy and Mount Wilson.  You’ll also see hitching rails where horses were once tied and there’s a sign with more information for anyone who cares to learn about the history of the mountain on which they are standing.  After spending some time reflecting on the summit of Mount Lowe, we hiked back down and took the trail leading to Mount Disappointment and San Gabriel Peak.  Interesting story about Mount Disappointment in case you don’t already know:  In 1894, USGS surveyors climbed to the top of Mount Disappointment after viewing it from the San Fernando Valley.  They thought it was the highest peak in the region only to be “disappointed” when they looked over at San Gabriel peak and discover that the mountain they’d climbed was shorter!  So there you go.  Another point of interest along the route is that you’ll pass by what’s left of a Nike Missile Defense System from LA’s cold war-era.  We took the route up to Mount Disappointment first.  The route travels up a fire road which, as much as I hate hiking fire roads, wasn’t too bad.  The summit has some radio towers, a helipad and great views, so I feel like this peak deserves a better name.  Anywho, after exploring Mt. Disappointment, we headed up to San Gabriel Peak.  The trail is quite steep, but it’s a nice climb to work for your reward of even more great views from the top.  I should also mention from these peaks we could see the billowing smoke plumes off in the distance from the Thomas Fire which as of this writing is still, unfortunately, burning.  Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this hike.  We’ll soon be hiking Echo Mountain to Inspiration Point so we can take in even more history about our nearby mountain range.

 Starting off the hike through the Mueller Tunnel.

Starting off the hike through the Mueller Tunnel.

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 Trail to summit Mount Lowe.  You can see the damage from the 2009 Station Fire.

Trail to summit Mount Lowe.  You can see the damage from the 2009 Station Fire.

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 Smoke from the Thomas Fire.  

Smoke from the Thomas Fire.  

 This lovely green portal is just before you reach the summit.

This lovely green portal is just before you reach the summit.

 On top of Mount Lowe.

On top of Mount Lowe.

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 Looking through the viewing tube at Mount Wilson.

Looking through the viewing tube at Mount Wilson.

 The LA Basin.

The LA Basin.

 Catalina island is visible.

Catalina island is visible.

 A bit of history.

A bit of history.

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 Viewing tube dedicated to Lee Tracy. When you look through it, you'll see his photo. This gentleman was a hiker who led people up here on Wednesday evening hikes. He died tragically this past year in a hiking accident.

Viewing tube dedicated to Lee Tracy. When you look through it, you'll see his photo. This gentleman was a hiker who led people up here on Wednesday evening hikes. He died tragically this past year in a hiking accident.

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 Looking over at Mount Wilson.  You can see the red fire retardant from the recent Mount Wilson fire.

Looking over at Mount Wilson.  You can see the red fire retardant from the recent Mount Wilson fire.

 Trail up to San Gabriel Peak and Mt. Disappointment.

Trail up to San Gabriel Peak and Mt. Disappointment.

 What's left of the Nike Missile Control Station.

What's left of the Nike Missile Control Station.

 Looking over at San Gabriel Peak from Mt. Disappointment.

Looking over at San Gabriel Peak from Mt. Disappointment.

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 Now on the way to San Gabriel Peak looking back at Mt. Disappointment.

Now on the way to San Gabriel Peak looking back at Mt. Disappointment.

 Climbing up the steep slope to San Gabriel Peak.

Climbing up the steep slope to San Gabriel Peak.

 Views from San Gabriel Peak.

Views from San Gabriel Peak.

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 Now back at Mueller Tunnel.  To the left you can see some guard rails left from what used to be the Cliff Trail.

Now back at Mueller Tunnel.  To the left you can see some guard rails left from what used to be the Cliff Trail.