A historic hike along the Sam Merrill Trail past the Cobb Estate and the ruins of Mount Lowe Railway, Echo Mountain House and the White City.

At the turn of the century, a famous Pacific Electric excursion was the Mt. Lowe trip. From Los Angeles, sightseers took a Pasadena car to Altadena and Rubio Canyon. They then transferred to a cable car on the Incline Railway that went up a 62% grade to Echo Mountain. From there they would take a narrow-gauge trolley car winding its way up the rugged San Gabriel Mtns. and finally would arrive at Alpine Tavern on Mt. Lowe, a nearly 7 mile railway ride from the base of the mountain.

At the turn of the century, a famous Pacific Electric excursion was the Mt. Lowe trip. From Los Angeles, sightseers took a Pasadena car to Altadena and Rubio Canyon. They then transferred to a cable car on the Incline Railway that went up a 62% grade to Echo Mountain. From there they would take a narrow-gauge trolley car winding its way up the rugged San Gabriel Mtns. and finally would arrive at Alpine Tavern on Mt. Lowe, a nearly 7 mile railway ride from the base of the mountain.

The views were spectacular and on most days Catalina Island, over 60 miles away, could be clearly be seen.

The views were spectacular and on most days Catalina Island, over 60 miles away, could be clearly be seen.

Remains of the Echo Mountain House - In 1892, Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt Lowe, also known as Professor T. S. C. Lowe, founded the Mount Lowe project and Mount Lowe Railway. Oak Mountain, a 6,100 foot peak behind Echo Mountain, was renamed Mount Lowe in his honor. The rail system was engineered by David J. Macpherson and completed in 1893.

Remains of the Echo Mountain House – In 1892, Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt Lowe, also known as Professor T. S. C. Lowe, founded the Mount Lowe project and Mount Lowe Railway. Oak Mountain, a 6,100 foot peak behind Echo Mountain, was renamed Mount Lowe in his honor. The rail system was engineered by David J. Macpherson and completed in 1893.

Echo has a mean elevation of 3,207 feet

Echo has a mean elevation of 3,207 feet.

On 6 January 1993, Echo Mountain, also referred to as Mount Echo, was delineated as part of the Mount Lowe Railway monument area listed by the U.S. Forest Service on the National Register of Historic Places.

On 6 January 1993, Echo Mountain, also referred to as Mount Echo, was delineated as part of the Mount Lowe Railway monument area listed by the U.S. Forest Service on the National Register of Historic Places.

On top of the mountain are the ruins of "White City", a resort along the scenic Mount Lowe Railway, which could easily be seen from the valley below.

On top of the mountain are the ruins of “White City”, a resort along the scenic Mount Lowe Railway, which could easily be seen from the valley below.

From its point and down an incline to its foot in Rubio Canyon was the Great Incline funicular of the Mount Lowe Railway, whose white cars could be seen ascending and descending Echo.

From its point and down an incline to its foot in Rubio Canyon was the Great Incline funicular of the Mount Lowe Railway, whose white cars could be seen ascending and descending Echo.

MLR towards the fabled White City.

MLR towards the fabled White City.

Tracks

Tracks

One 750 pound motorized drive wheel and two 500 pound dummy trucks with a snow plow mounted on rails over the service pit. Recovered in 1993 from the downhill side of Echo Mountain.

One 750 pound motorized drive wheel and two 500 pound dummy trucks with a snow plow mounted on rails over the service pit. Recovered in 1993 from the downhill side of Echo Mountain.

Where they used to get their dance on.

Where they used to get their dance on.

Stairway down to the Dance Hall.

Stairway down to the Dance Hall.

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More ruins along the way to the White City.

More ruins along the way to the White City.

Cable drive with companion intermediate gear assembly and two 6-foot guide wheels which stood at the top of the Great Incline. The intermediate gear was one of two retrieved from the hillside via helicopter in 1993.

Cable drive with companion intermediate gear assembly and two 6-foot guide wheels which stood at the top of the Great Incline. The intermediate gear was one of two retrieved from the hillside via helicopter in 1993.

Gearhead

Gearhead

The Final Farewell

The Final Farewell

 Distance 10.4 miles, but under 6 if you just head to the hotel ruins and back Elevation Gain 2740 ft Time 4.75 hours Difficulty Moderate Season All location map How to Get There From the 210, take the Lake Avenue exit north from Pasadena into Altadena. Continue on the road for about 3.8 miles as it climbs a hill and park near the sharp left hand turn outside the Cobb Estate. No permits are required. Detailed driving directions » Public Transit Directions Metro Bus 180/181 departs from the Gold Line's Sierra Madre Villa Station and drops you off at Lake / Altadena, about 1 mile away from the trailhead. Alternatively, Bus 260 stops at Fair Oaks / Colorado, which is about 0.8 miles to the west of the trailhead. Trail Condition Very good. The Echo Mountain trail is well traveled, but well maintained. Castle Canyon has a few tricky parts, as does the middle Sam Merrill Trail, but nothing that should get anyone in trouble if they're paying attention. Camping Info The Mount Lowe Campground is a hike-in backcountry campground near the site of the old Alpine Tavern. Notables     The ruins of a hotel from L.A.'s "Golden Age of Hiking"     Historic ruins of a funicular railroad, observatory, powerhouse, and more     A decent elevation gain with plenty of opportunities to extend the hike     Dog-friendly (on leash)     DIRECTIONS     MAP     GPX     KMZ     FLICKR [Go Full Screen] © OpenStreetMap contributors Altitude0.0mi1.0mi2.0mi3.0mi4.0mi5.0mi6.0mi7.0mi8.0mi9.0mi10.0mi1,000ft2,000ft3,000ft4,000ft5,000ft A great hike in the lower San Gabriels to incredible vistas, forested mountain canyons, and the ruins of a turn-of-the-century mountaintop resort. Bonus enjoyment for history buffs, in the form of plaques and markers placed along the ruins and the route of an old railroad through the mountains. Hiking from Altadena to the ruins of the Echo Mountain resort was the first double-digit hike I ever finished, and I figured this weekend would a). be a good time to revisit and b). the trail would serve as a nice reintroduction to long-distance hiking to my legs … without the added calf-murder of the Mt. Baldy ascent I’d been weathered-away from last week. I drove out to Altadena and parked off Lake Avenue. One of the first things you’ll see on the trail is a marker placed by the Altadena Historical Society, marking the entrance to the former Cobb Estate, and the Echo Mountain trailhead. You will see many more plaques along the way. The Historical Society has really done a fantastic job of researching, maintaining, and marking all of the points of interest along this route — and there are plenty of them. Echo Mountain 001 The Cobb Estate belonged to a wealthy lumber magnate, and had several gold mines and water wells on its property before the buildings were completely razed in 1959. One year later, the Marx Brothers bought the land and wanted to turn the area into a cemetery. Luckily, students from the aptly named John Muir High School bought the land and donated it to the Forest Service. Now the land houses several miles of equestrian trails, a small botanical garden, and the entrance to the Echo Mountain Trail. Echo Mountain 002 The trail crosses a flood control area and begins zigzagging its way up the southwest base of Echo Mountain. This section of the trail is very heavily-traveled, but is in excellent shape – especially for such a popular trail. The path is very well maintained, and I only noticed a few minor examples of trail trash on the way up. The grade is nice and easy, too — it’s about 3 miles from the bottom of the mountain to the resort ruins, at just over 1400 feet of incline. There’s a lot of switchbacks, yes, but you’ll feel like you’re making enough progress where it won’t bother you. Echo Mountain 005 The trail does get more rugged the further along you hike, but nothing’s too bad on this stretch. If you’re hiking in the morning, you’ll get plenty of shade while climbing the west side of the ridge — otherwise, you’re not getting much of any shade. The first time I hiked this was in the middle of May in jeans and a long sleeve shirt. Needless to say, I lost a lot of water weight that day. But be sure to enjoy the views as your rise above the cities and into the mountains! Echo Mountain 006 Echo Mountain 007 At around the 3 mile mark, you’ll reach a plateau and come upon a silver plaque from the National Register of Historic Places — which is always a way to catch my eye, if you’re ever wondering. It marks the section of the trail where you’ll meet up with the old grade for the Mount Lowe Railroad – a twisted series of cliff-side rails that used to bring paying customers to the Echo Mountain Resort from a nearby stop-off point. Today, all that’s left are a few sections of iron track, the grade, and some abandoned gears near the old hotel… Echo Mountain 015 The hotel itself is almost entirely gone, but a series of plaques and laminated photos around the site does an excellent job of recreating the splendor of the place in its heyday. At the main foundation of the Echo Mountain House, you can still easily make out the different rooms on the floor plan — and you can also see Inspiration Point in the distant mountains (in the saddle on the left). But you’ll probably have more fun imagining yourself at the same site at the turn of the century, comparing the old pictures with what’s left over. Echo Mountain 013 Echo Mountain 018 Echo Mountain 024 If you want to make some noise, you can even walk around to an old ‘Echo Phone’ — basically just a ground-mounted megaphone that you can shout through to hear an echo.

If you want to make some noise, you can even walk around to an old ‘Echo Phone’ — a ground-mounted megaphone that you can shout through to hear an echo.

There was another one installed up at Inspiration Point, so patrons could yell to each other.

There was another one installed up at Inspiration Point, so patrons could yell to each other.

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