LA-09 constitutes one of the five Nike missile sites built in the 1950s in Angeles National Forest.
While there’s not much left of the site itself, it’s a fun hike that offers up amazing views and two summits: San Gabriel Peak and Mt. Disappointment. The views begin right from the start.
You should never hike in this area during the summer, it gets super hot and there’s so many bugs flying around your face during the hike, that it forces you to wear things like this.
The insect situation became so bad that we had to ditch the actual trail and hike up the old fire road, which is actually a longer route but had less of an insect problem.
Not sure if this was an old radar pad for the Nike installation or not but obviously it’s now being used by the forest service as some type of fire prevention mechanism or helipad.
It says it’s a cloudburst canon which would make me believe it is or was being used as some kind of cloud seeding device for weather manipulation.
Got to keep those firefighters hydrated.
Since this area was part of the 2009 station fire, there’s plenty of the strangely-named poodle-dog bush along the trail. This plant like many species in the forget-me-not family, causes severe irritation if touched, akin to poison oak. It can raise blisters lasting as long as several weeks. There may be a delay of several days before the reaction starts. The hairs stick to skin and clothing so you have to be extra cautious when hiking through them.
A trail sign posted near the fire road we took.
As you approach the peak of Mt. Disappointment you begin to see the area that made up the old Nike missile site.
Not sure is this was part of the entrance gate but it was def part of LA-09 in some way.
While the missile launching area was located down in this area the barracks, support structures and radar facility was located near the top where the antennas now stand.
There’s not much left that would help someone identify this as a Nike site but this tape along the rails of the stairway is a good clue to this sites former use.
This area is currently being used as a radio relay station, a couple of buildings, radar pads and a heliport are all that remain.
How does a mountain end up with a name like Disappointment? It was christened when a group of surveyors carried some heavy equipment to the top of the mountain, thinking it was the tallest peak in the area. Unfortunately, when they arrived at the summit, they saw taller San Gabriel Peak to the south, and felt the disappointment of knowing that their efforts had been for naught.
Was this part of LA-09? Sure looks like it to me.
On clear days, both Mt. Disappointment and San Gabriel Peak can be seen from the L.A. Basin.
Even with the smog the views from Mt. Disappointment did not disappoint.
In the 1950s, the U.S. Army lowered/flatened Disappointment to make room for the Nike missile base. The peak’s current elevation is 5,994 feet; San Gabriel’s is 6,161.
Looking down from where the antennas are, one can see the former missile launching site below. San Gabriel Peak is above that.
Unfortunately they sealed up the lower level of where the launch site used to be.
If you look closely you can still make out the criss-cut lines of the top of the steel launch doors.
I wanted to remove the thin layer of concrete they poured over the launch doors, pry them open and see if there was anything underneath them. I’m sure they filled it all in when they decommissioned it back in the late 60’s.
Launch site view looking up towards the top of Mt. Disappointment.
Heading up to San Gabriel Peak from the launch site.
A steep climb, through some terrain scorched by the Station Fire of 2009, brings you to the San Gabriel summit.
Launch site peek on the way up to San Gabriel Peak.
This area was destroyed in the devastating 2009 fire and is full of poodle-dog bush, so watch your step.
All across the continental US there are a network of survey markers which are bronze disks about 8 to 10 cm. in diameter set in rock or permanent structures. Usually found on top of a large rock at the summit, the benchmark will generally be cemented in place at the very highest point. Surveyors are concerned with visibility to other survey monuments and thus may place the benchmark near, but not actually on the highest point. The elevation of the benchmark will in these cases be lower than that of the true summit and the position as measured in latitude and longitude will not be that of the highest point. In addition to the primary benchmark, surveyors usually will place two others nearby called reference marks or RM1 and RM2. These will usually be within about 50 feet of the primary mark and be at right angles to each other. They will be marked with an arrow pointing to the primary site to aid in locating it should it be obscured by rocks or plant growth or to help relocate it should it be destroyed.
Mt. Wilson is the next peak over.
This is a great hike but I wouldn’t do it in the summer again. Fall and spring are always the best.