By Amanda Coscarelli
When warm weather springs, there are two things Southern Californians do best: relax on the beach and embark on a hike. Though Pasadena isn’t known for its white sand or salty air, the city is home to a number of trails that draw in hikers from all over Los Angeles. And if the weather is right, a seagull just might be flying in to escape the marine layer.
Besides the occasional beach bird, there are many reasons for hikers to venture to Pasadena’s trails. Former Arcadia resident Faith Hawthorne, 20, says, “I like to hike to explore nature. I’m motivated to get to the top of the mountain, take a picture of the sunrise or sunset, and say we did it. Hiking is not only a good sweat, but it also helps build long-lasting friendships.”
Compiled by local hikers, this list includes the best of Pasadena and surrounding cities’ trails.
1. Eaton Canyon (easy)
The Eaton Canyon trail, recommended by Altadena resident Vanessa Prata, 21, sits inside of Eaton Canyon Nature Center. This is a beginner’s-level trail, and it’s often busy with families, dog walkers and horse riders. Prata explains it’s a good trail for people of all ages and experience levels and a good starting point for anyone wanting to pick up hiking as a hobby. This is a shaded trail with various stopping points along the way and, often, encounters with wild animals. It’s a good idea to brush up on snake protocol in the museum and nature center before starting the hike. Prata also notes that, after it rains, enough water builds up at the falls for a quick, cold swim.
2. Enchanted Forest via Sam Merill (easy)
The Enchanted Forest trail is recommended by San Gabriel resident Michael Morales, 20. He discovered the hike by taking a wrong turn. This hike begins at the top of Lake Avenue in Altadena, past foreboding front gates. Upon entering the gates, hikers will travel on broken asphalt that once served as a driveway for the Cobb Estate. The fork is only a short walk ahead, and there’s a sign that points hikers toward Echo Mountain to the right. The other trail is to the left toward the estate. It’s another quick walk to the ruins of the old house, and many trailgoers stop there. However, Morales noted that several difficult trails are hidden beyond this point, but trail blazers will have to proceed at their own risk.
3. Hermit Falls (moderate)
The Hermit Falls trail is part of the Chantry Flat recreation area in the mountains of Sierra Madre. Tucked in the Angeles National Forest, this trail has plenty of trees and provides lots of shade. Though it’s a moderate trail, it’s still popular among dog walkers and families. Past the parking lot and at the head of the trail, there’s a sign that points hikers in the direction of different trails. Hawthorne recommends Hermit Falls because of the oasis near the end. Though it’s not the easiest trail, it leads tired hikers to a waterfall and pond that doubles as a picture op and a cooldown before heading back.
4. First Water via Mount Wilson Trail (moderate)
This trail is one of a few that branch off from the Mount Wilson trailhead in Sierra Madre. It is recommended by Sierra Madre resident Will Cosso, 21, for its historical significance to the region. He notes, “It’s beautiful, I can walk to it from my house, and it’s super historical.”
According to Cosso, this was originally a Native American trail that was widened by the first mayor of Los Angeles, Benjamin Wilson, in 1864. In the late 1800s, the canyon and summit had “rustic resorts” for campers and hikers. Though the campgrounds are long gone, the trail’s accessibility makes it possible for history buffs and hikers alike to bask in its heritage. And if that isn’t enough to ponder on the trek, Cosso includes that at the top of the mountain, visible from the trail, is the Mount Wilson Observatory, where Edwin Hubble realized that the Milky Way galaxy is one of millions in an expanding universe.
5. Bailey Canyon Trail (hard)
On the topic of Sierra Madre hikes, Cosso also recommends the Bailey Canyon Trail. In fact, it connects with part of the Mount Wilson Trail loop. This one is for the hardcore hikers who don’t mind getting on the ground to climb. It’s uphill through Bailey Canyon for the beginning of the trip and then across the ridge for the next leg. Hikers will need to scramble up to reach the Mount Wilson road, though after that there’s a section of downhill. As this is the longest hike on the list, at 11.1 miles, trailgoers should expect to take many breaks and should prepare with multiple bottles of water.