Mount Lowe Hike: Wander to A Swing Above the Clouds

Mar 12, 2021

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Distance 

3.2 Miles

Time

~1.5 Hrs

Difficulty

Easy – Moderate

Season

All Year

Elevation Gain

295 Ft

Did you know you can swing from 5,604 feet above and get amazing sunset views of Mount Wilson, Mount Baldy, and Los Angeles? Swing by Mount Lowe trail for your next adventure! 

Mount Lowe Railway Trail via Eaton Saddle is a 3.2 mile, round trip, hike located on the southern fold of the San Gabriel Mountains near Altadena, CA. This easy to moderate level trail features a swing and tunnel. The elevation gain is 383 feet. Dogs are allowed on leashes.

Map of Mount Lowe Trail

 

Where is the Trail to Mount Lowe?

You might come to find that there’s more than one way to reach this destination. Hiking to Mount Lowe via the Sam Merrill Trail can be quite intimidating if you’re not ready to trudge over 6.5 miles under the hot California sun. 

Luckily, there’s a shorter way to get to this awesome swing set and peak, making it doable during the early summer months.

The Mt Lowe Trail via Eaton Saddle is perfect for novices and old-time trekkers alike.

 

Direction & Parking

Directions to Eaton Saddle Trailhead: Eaton Saddle Trailhead, Mount Wilson Red Box Road, Mt Lowe Rd, Altadena, CA 91001

There are two parking lots here. Be aware that this is the parking lot to other popular trails close by, so parking is limited.

 

Gear I Used on This Hike

TrailBuddy Hiking Poles 

They’re light, collapsable, and help so much on the steep sections. They’ve also saved me a few times from slipping and falling on the snowy hikes. I love how they come with multiple adapters for different terrains. 

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Nalgene Tritan BPA-Free Wide-Mouth Water Bottle

I prefer this 48 oz (1.4 liter) water bottle over a hydration bladder for several reasons: it leaves more room inside my backpack, it’s way easier to clean, and no leaky messes.

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Merrel Moab 2 Vent Mid HIking Boots

These are the BEST hiking boots I’ve ever owned. I love these highly ventilated boots so much because they’re super light, perfect for CA’s hot weather, and provide tons of traction.

outdoors men click HERE outdoors women click HERE

The products shown above are products I actually use. If you happen to purchase those products after clicking my link, we receive a small Amazon commission, which in turn helps us provide better and more fun content for you guys. 🙂

The Hike to Mount Lowe

The trailhead starts by walking down the Mt Lowe Fire Road.

There used to be an amphitheater you could spot from this road, but it burned down years ago.

 

Mueller Tunnel

Further up, I was greeted by the Mueller Tunnel. It was built back in 1942 and goes about 100 yards in.

This tunnel served as a gateway to the summit but is now closed to all vehicles.

It collapsed back in 2007 but was nicely repaired.

The tunnel is exciting and nice to walk through, especially since there’s hardly any graffiti.

The light illuminates the inside of the tunnel beautifully, revealing the textured walls.

 

 

Road to the Mount Lowe Swing 

Passing the tunnel, I continued uphill on the rocky and rugged path on the Mount Lowe Summit Trail.

There are tons of rocks and boulders of different sizes. Be aware that rock slides do happen here, but it’s mostly safe.

I finally reached a junction with three different paths. To get to the peak, I took the left path with the rocky steps. It’s a bit of a steep incline all the way up, but not too bad.

I could see the easier, yet long Mt Lowe Railway below. This route passes close to Inspiration Point.

The road to the peak was super interesting and full of character.

 

The leafless trees are remnants of the fire that took place back in 2009. 

The trees looked a bit eerie and gave off an uncanny feeling, which I thought was an interesting perspective on this otherwise beautiful trail. 

 

Reaching another junction, I followed what the sign said and made a hasty right up the steeper track. 

Along the way, I spotted the last bits of snow. There’s no doubt I’ll be back next winter to experience this trail differently.

Not long after, I had made it to Mount Lowe Peak! From Mt Baldy to the Santa Monica Mountains, you get to see it all.

 

There are viewing tubes here, from the 1800s, that let you peek through to the famous Mt Baldy and Mt Wilson. 

The best part of the hike? The swings!

 

Hop on these swings to feel as though you’re swaying above the clouds.

 

It was a bit foggy this day. But, it honestly made the swingset look a lot more whimsical, especially at sunset with the vibrant orange and blue sky.

Here’s a side profile of the swing set and viewing tubes in the distance.

After admiring the beauty and swings, it was time to make my way back before the sun completely set. 

 

There was a warm, orange glow that hugged Mt Disappointment and San Gabriel Peak. Another fascinating view. 

I highly recommend this hike in the spring, fall, and winter months when the conditions are right. 

I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

 

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History of Mount Lowe Railway

A very bright and motivated professor by the name of Thaddeus S.C. Lowe fell in love with the panoramic views of Mount Wilson on a horseback trip to the summit back in 1891. 

He had dreams of building a railway in the San Gabriel Mountains, but this trip launched it into action. Plans of building the railway from Eaton Canyon to Mt Wilson didn’t fall through, so he ended up building it from Rubio Canyon to Eaton Saddle. 

In 1893, Mt Lowe Railway was completed and was the first-ever electric-powered railway in the mountains. It was a total success and became a tourist attraction. This “eighth wonder of the world” would carry 3.1 million visitors up until the year 1936. 

This 5.8-mile long “Railway to the Clouds” took millions of visitors through various attractions, such as hotels, a zoo, and an observatory. It was the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the fast-growing society. 

Unfortunately, natural disasters and insufficient funds led to the closure of Mount Lowe Railway. What was once considered the Disneyland of its day, later became forgotten memories.

Restaurant Spotlight

Mt Lowe Brewing Co. 

In 2016, Arcadia’s first microbrewery was opened. The owners were inspired by the local history, which led to them naming the brewery after Mt Lowe Railway. 

The rustic and outdoorsy vibes of this place feel so connected to the outdoors and past life. The names of the 40 different beers help keep the rich history alive.

There’s one beer called the Inspiration Porter along with many other historic names of the great Mt Lowe. 

Plus, there’s a variety of food trucks that stop by and pair well with the beer!

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Hello, There!

We’re Monica and Phillip. Just like you, we share a passion for the outdoors and our beautiful state of California. After many years of exploring amazing and hidden places, we thought we’d share them with you! We hope this blog shows you tons of new CA adventures!

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