THE 5 PEAKS
Peak Bagging is a somewhat controversial sport. For supporters, pleasure is derived from the challenge of acquiring summits within a specific time limit, season or geographic region. For detractors, it's simply an obsessive activity that is not much more than a check list akin to collecting stamps and ignores the joy of communing with nature. Apparently one man's joy is another man's scorn. Here at Hike-LosAngeles.com, we believe there is plenty of outdoor space to be enjoyed in ways particular to the individual, so long as that enjoyment is non-destructive of our natural resources. Besides, it's pretty cool to say 'I've climbed to the highest point of. . .' And you do have to climb/hike. If it is car accessible, it doesn't count! Luckily, none of the highest peaks in the ranges surrounding Los Angeles are so easily bagged. Some of them you really have to work for; just be sure to stop and smell the wildflowers along the way. So here they are, the tallest peaks in each of the 5 mountain ranges surrounding Los Angles.
This smallest of the 5 Peaks also has the shortest trail at only 2.2 miles roundtrip. The trail is rugged, narrow and at times steep with sharp drop offs, but very doable even for novice hikers due to its short length. Centrally located in the Cahuenga Pass, the trail is easily accessible from both the Basin and the Valley. Short side trails allow you to also take in the Lonesome Pine on Burbank Peak and the Hollywood Sign on Mount Lee. With three peaks on one short hike and wide sweeping vistas from the San Gabriels in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, what more could you ask for?
This loop hike to the top of the Santa Monica Mountains' highest summit, Sandstone Peak, incorporates both the Mishe Mokwa Trail and sections of the Backbone trail for a 6.25 mile trek through three distinct environments and interesting sandstone formations. The hike from Tri Peaks to the summit of Sandstone features several impressive overlooks and sweeping vistas across the canyons from the Pacific Ocean in the south all the way to the Sierra Madre Mountains in the north. The 360° views from the pinnacle of Sandstone Peak are nothing short of stunning.
At 3,126', Verdugo Peak is the third tallest of the 5 Peaks and is one of the easiest trails to reach due to it incredibly close proximity to downtown Burbank. Getting to the summit may prove a bit more challenging however. Almost the entirety of the 1500' ascent is accomplished in the first half of the hike on a narrow, twisting single-track use path, making for a steep, delightfully wicked climb. Once you make it to the ridgeline, the hike becomes a stroll along a groomed dirt fire road, the Verdugo Motorway, all the way to the summit of Verdugo Peak.
For a decidedly different view of Los Angeles, consider this 6.4 mile roundtrip hike to summit of the highest peak in the Santa Susanna Mountains. The trek is steep and strenuous, but along the way you will be treated to rolling hills of grass with great views of rocky outcroppings and narrow canyons in all directions. There is also the added bonus of walking though a bit of Los Angeles history. At around a mile into your hike you will come to the former LA-88 Nike Missile Base used for air defense of the city during the height of the cold war.
It's not just the tallest peak in the San Gabriel's, Mount Baldy is the highest peak in all of Los Angeles County, making it the must have mountain for Angelino Peakbaggers. But snagging that peak won't be easy. Mount Baldy rises a little over 10,000 feet and the shortest trail to the summit has an elevation gain of 3900' in 4.5 miles with one section rising 500' in just .66 of a mile. It can be a brutal climb, but the 360° views from the summit are stunning. Mount Baldy's summit can be reach via two different out-and-backs or a combined loop trail.