A trek through wildflowers at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
(Catherine Pearlman)

17 SoCal hiking trails that are blooming with wildflowers (but probably not for long!)

While poppy season has largely come to a close, Southern California is still awash in a rainbow of florals.

All you need to do to catch a glimpse of the extraordinary bloom is take a walk in your neighborhood or drive along a freeway nestled in the hills, like portions of the 405 or the 5, and keep your eyes peeled for swaths of yellow, purple, pink, blue and orange. You might even see California poppies in a particularly wild and gloriously unkempt neighbor’s yard.

But if you want to get up close and personal with blankets of goldfields, Canterbury bells, filaree and other native plants, your best bet is to take a hike. Designated paths are a big advantage if one of your wildflower viewing motivators is photos: You can get the image of being surrounded by flowers without stepping on the plants. Since poppies are a particularly fragile and photogenic plant, trampling in fields without paths has become such a problem that the State Parks department is running a #DontDoomTheBloom hashtag campaign, raising awareness that stepping on a poppy means killing it for the future, not just truncating its bloom this year. Other ways to be a respectful wildflower viewer on hikes include staying on those designated trails, not picking the flowers and adhering to photography regulations (drone use may be prohibited or require a permit).

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Swapping out the sea of cars that usually surrounds us Angelenos for an ocean of flowers can be the literal breath of fresh (and scented) air many of us might be craving after an unusually long and wet winter. In a landscape rarely as green as it is right now, seize the remaining weekends of spring and early summer to take in the lush hillsides, temperate mornings and late afternoons, and the colorful open spaces just a short drive away from the center of our city. —Rachel Kraus

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Anza-Borrego superbloom hike.
(Catherine Pearlman)

Borrego Palm Canyon Trail, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

San Diego County Trail
What’s in bloom: Among the 600,000 acres of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, there are more than 1,200 flower varieties (check out this really cool identifier by flower color). Some to look out for: beavertail cactus with its magenta flowers, brittlebush, California goldfields, miniature lupine, desert dandelions and sand verbena.

The hike: The hike with the biggest bang for the effort is the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail. There’s a flowing stream, an abundance of flowers, a fan palm tree oasis and bighorn sheep (yes, sheep!).

The trailhead is located at the back end of the Borrego Palm Canyon campground. You must purchase a day pass ($10) or use your California State Parks pass. Before departing on the hike, make sure you have at least a gallon of water per person. If you think that sounds excessive, take a gander at the enormous danger sign featuring a skull and crossbones. That should convince you. Also, sunscreen is a must. This trail is hot and offers no shade.

This trail is lined with markers every tenth of a mile. To make sure you stay on the trail, the park staff uses logs and boulders to keep the path visible. If you cross over a log, you are likely going off the path. The hike meanders across the stream three times. On the last crossing you will blissfully get your feet (and anything else you wish) wet before walking up to see the native California Fan Palms. After the fire in 2020 that blackened their trucks, the oasis is closed, but you can get a lovely view from up above on the trail. The oasis is the end of the trail. Turn around and head back — but be certain to scan the rocks for movements of the bighorn sheep.

There is so much to explore in the Anza-Borrego State Park but if you have time for only one more adventure in the day, check out the slot canyon. It’s otherworldly.

Dogs and bikes are not permitted on trails.
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The Weir Canyon hike for OC Hikes.
(Catherine Pearlman)

Weir Canyon Trail, Anaheim

Anaheim Trail
What’s in bloom: Predominately California poppies but also some blue dicks, desert wishbone-bush, black mustard, red maids, California brittlebush, stinging lupine and Parry’s phacelia.

The hike: Weir Canyon Trail is a classic canyon hike with rolling hills (covered in green in the spring), soaring hawks and turkey vultures and an assortment of wildflowers, including scores of poppies. Because of its splendor and the fact that dogs are welcome, it can also be fairly crowded. Early morning or weekday hiking is encouraged. At the top of the loop on a clear day, there’s a terrific view of Mt. Baldy (which is delightfully covered in snow in winter).

Upon entering the park, head up the path. At the first fork, stay right to continue on Weir Canyon Trail (ignore the small offshoot to the far right). The incline is tempered with gentle switchbacks. About 1.5 miles into the hike the poppies become more dense projecting a lavish sea of orange. At the top of the loop, the trail name turns to Old Weir Canyon Trail. Take this path back down to your car.

At the end of the hike, there is a steep 29%-grade hill down on Old Weir Canyon. If climbing up is easier than going down a steep trail, try this hike in reverse. Free parking is available along the residential street of South Hidden Canyon Road.
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Diamond Valley superbloom hike.
(Catherine Pearlman)

Diamond Valley Lake Trail, Hemet

What’s in bloom: Oodles upon oodles of flowers. Hikers tend to stop every foot or so to take pictures. It’s just that packed with blooms. You’ll find California poppies, tidy tips, arroyo lupine, chia, brittlebush, forget-me-nots, California goldfields, blue dicks, baby blue eyes and red maids.

The hike: Diamond Valley Lake is a huge man-made reservoir containing 260 billion gallons of water. For reference, that’s bigger than Lake Havasu. There’s a beautiful curvy waterline with mountains and hills rising all around the perimeter.

Driving up Angler Avenue to the Diamond Valley Lake Marina, you are going to see wildflowers and mountain views. You might be tempted to stop to snap a few pictures. Don’t bother. Wait until you step onto the trail.

From the parking lot of Diamond Valley Lake Marina, take the path that winds around the right side of the lake. There is a mini loop that heads down toward the water. It is currently closed, but don’t fret because the best flowers are on the bigger loop. After about a third of a mile, the path forks. Either direction works perfectly. About halfway up the trail the snow-covered San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains come into view and here’s where the wow factor hits 10 out of 10.

Ample parking is available at the lake for $11 per vehicle, plus $4 per person. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dogs are not permitted. There is a little concession store that sells snacks and rents E-bikes for the 22-mile trail around the lake. Fishing boats can also be rented by the hour. Bring lots of water, a hat and sunscreen as there is no shade. Expect large crowds on the weekends.
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Sycamore Canyon
(Elaine Murphy)

Sycamore Canyon Trail, Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park

What’s in bloom: The easy trails in Riverside’s Sycamore Canyon Park traverse rolling hills carpeted with thick brittlebush, a shrub with silvery gray leaves and sunny yellow flowers. Sunflowers, purple Canterbury bells and distant Phacelia, and the unfortunately named yet beautiful yellow stinknet and blue dicks round out the wildflower display.

The hike: This dog- and bike-friendly 3.5-mile loop trail is a great way to see the northeastern corner of the park. From the parking lot, head straight and then left, following the trail on the eastern edge of the park. After about a mile and a half, once you start seeing more houses outside the park, look for a trail that leads toward the middle of the park and follow it back to the parking lot. As the trails in Sycamore Canyon are unnamed, and as there are a lot of side paths, keep a digital or printed map handy or use a trail navigation app — this will make it a choose-your-own-adventure hike instead of feeling like you’re lost.

Free parking is available in the lot at the park entrance off of Central Avenue next to the Ameal Moore Nature Center.
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Aliso Summit superbloom trail.
(Catherine Pearlman)

Aliso Summit Trail, Laguna Niguel

Laguna Niguel Hike
What’s in bloom: It’s been almost a year since a brutal brushfire in May 2022 burned up the canyon, crossed over the trail and destroyed more than 20 homes. After extensive rain, the regrowth is downright heartwarming. While burnt trees still dot the landscape, you’ll find a lush carpet of green with highlights of purple, orange, yellow and white. See California goldfields, treasure flowers, California poppies, Parry’s phacelia and clearwater cryptantha.

The hike: The Aliso Summit Trail is a longtime community favorite for its easy access and stunning sunset views. When the marine layer comes in, hikers feel as if they are walking on the clouds. The trail winds around the ridgeline, showing off Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo and Laguna Niguel below.

It’s also an easy trail to navigate. There are no turn-offs to worry about. Simply follow the path — it’s 2 miles each way — and take in the view and the flowers.

There is plentiful free street parking available along Pacific Island Drive. Dogs and bikes are permitted. There is a very steep drop off with no guide rail or trees, so the trail isn’t suitable for very young children.
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Antelope Valley superbloom hike
(Rachel Kraus)

North Loop Trail, Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Northwest Antelope Valley Trail
What’s in bloom: Poppies. Don’t expect to see the solid orange hills the poppy reserve boasted in March and early April, but patches of poppies still adorn many of the more South East facing hillsides, as do purple lupines and yellow goldfields.

The hike: While this reserve draws throngs of visitors to popular flower viewing peaks, come wearing a good pair of sneakers and you can enjoy more than 8 miles of trails that wend through the park. For the best flower viewing, the park recommends the North Loop Trail, a 3.5-mile rolling path that takes you to popular spots like the Kitanemuk Vista Point, but also through the hills to the east of the parking lot off of Lancaster Road.

Come early or prepare to sit in a line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot, which requires a $10 parking fee. Alternatively, park on Lancaster Road, which will require a 20- to 30-minute walk up the hill to the trail head. Wildflower fields also surround the reserve, and you’ll see many cars pulled over to see the natural sights. Rangers say you can feel free to do the same, but stay out of the fields themselves to avoid trampling and trespassing on private land.
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Orange flowers
(Casey Schreiner)

Condor and Skyline trails, Griffith Park

Griffith Park Hike
What’s in bloom: Sticky monkey flowers. These compact bushes seem to explode out of impossible locations like small cracks in stone and the sides of barren, crumbling slopes. They’ll be covered in showy flowers — mostly yellow but sometimes white, pink, red or magenta. They usually bloom in late spring, and if the conditions are right, some flowers may last into June and July.

Also, along the road and parking areas where Crystal Springs Drive turns into Western Heritage Way, there is a solid collection of Matilija poppies — large, sprawling plants that truly earn their nickname “fried egg poppy.” These usually bloom in late spring to early summer as well.

The hike: Try the Skyline and Condor trails on the north side of the park. Start just south of Travel Town and follow the lovely, shaded Oak Canyon Trail toward the Mineral Wells Picnic Area, then cross Griffith Park Drive and head north on the Condor Trail — a rarely used route that hugs the outskirts of the L.A. Zoo (keep an ear open for the chimpanzees). There are a few short sections of moderate climbing to the Skyline Trail, which will take you all the way back to Travel Town while serving up some exquisite views of the Verdugos and San Gabriels on clear days.
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Bane Ridge Trail, Chino Hills State Park.
(Rachel Kraus)

Bane Ridge Trail, Chino Hills State Park

Chino Hills Hike
What’s in bloom: Right now, towers of yellow mustard flowers await you on the Bane Ridge Trail. While the plant is an invasive species, the stalks bursting from the sides of this sometimes narrow path make you feel like you’re walking through tunnels of flowers.

The hike: If you start from the parking lot at the park entrance kiosk off Sapphire Road, the complete 5.5-mile loop takes you up the Bane Ridge Trail then back on the Bane Canyon Trail. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Alternatively, begin at the horse staging area (a 5- to 10-minute drive after you pass the kiosk — keep going until you see the “horse staging area” sign), and you can do an up to 5-mile out-and-back hike on Bane Ridge. Either way, the trail is mostly exposed hillside with many steep ups and downs. The panoramas of grass-covered hillsides, the physical challenge and the truly wild wildflowers make it worth it.
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A trail with yellow flowers.
(Elaine Murphy)

Little Sycamore Canyon to Serrano Ridge Loop Trail, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

What’s in bloom: A medley of native wildflowers, including California poppies, coastal paintbrush, goldenstar, purple Parry’s phacelia, yellow deerweed and orange monkey flower.

The hike: This 4.7-mile loop hike, best traversed counterclockwise, combines some of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park’s best scenery with seasonal wildflowers and heart-pumping inclines. Start (and end) your journey at Nix Nature Center, where you can learn more about the park’s wildlife, including which flowers to look out for.

Follow the nature trail to Little Sycamore Canyon, keeping your eyes open for lizards, birds of prey and spring blossoms. Climb up Little Sycamore to reach Serrano Ridge, which will reward you — and the mountain bikers likely to share the trail — with picturesque inland vistas and trailside poppies. Then, descend among the trees through the Camarillo Canyon and Stagecoach South trails before ending up back at the nature center.

Park in the dirt lot at Nix Nature Center ($3/day) off of Laguna Canyon Road.
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Anacapa Island part of Channel Islands National Park, is home to thousands of western gulls and a 1932 light station.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Anacapa Island Trail, Channel Islands National Park

What’s in bloom: Anacapa Island, the second smallest in Channel Islands National Park, is awash in a thick blanket of yellow as its signature giant coreopsis plants have come alive after spending most of the year dormant and bare. Efforts to eradicate the invasive ice plant are underway, allowing the giant coreopsis forest to thrive. These fragile succulents look like miniature trees with tall, woody stems and branches; bright yellow flowers; and feathery green leaves.

Besides their brilliant aesthetic, the coreopsis also provide essential habitat for the world’s largest protected breeding colony of Western gulls, who descend onto Anacapa from April to June to fight over territory and build their nests under the canopy of flowers. (Unlike their mainland friends, these nesting seagulls tend to not be overly aggressive toward people. Just don’t leave your sandwich unattended.)

The hike: With only two miles of trails, it’s easy to traverse the whole island in a day. Once you climb the 157 stairs from the ferry landing, the paths are easy and mostly flat. From the landing cove, head toward the small cluster of historic buildings and explore the island’s history. Then, turn left and walk up to the lighthouse — the only one on the Channel Islands, complete with a working foghorn — before hiking back toward the visitor center to start the loop trail. As you hike, you can watch the harbor seals and sea lions playing in the surf and basking on the rocks at Pinniped Point and Cathedral Cove. At Inspiration Point, on the western tip of the island, the views are some of the best in the Channel Islands, looking out across Anacapa’s two smaller islands and the larger Santa Cruz Island.

To get to Anacapa, you’ll need to take a ferry, operated by Island Packers, from either Ventura or Oxnard to the island. The round-trip rate for a day trip on the ferry is $63; there are no additional park entry or parking fees. Ferries run several times a week. Bring plenty of water, as there is no drinking water available on Anacapa.
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Two Trees hike.
(Elaine Murphy)

Two Trees Trail, Box Springs Mountain Reserve

What’s in bloom: A variety of wildflowers, including delicate white popcorn flowers and pink stork’s bill, sturdier sunflowers, orange poppies and daisylike brittlebush.

The hike: Sandwiched between Moreno Valley and Riverside, the Box Springs Mountains are an unexpected oasis amid neighborhoods and warehouses. This fun, short, leg-busting trail invites you to get quite the workout, gaining nearly 1,000 feet of elevation in just over a mile. There’s no shade — the name “two trees” is accurate — and the steepness both ways calls for hiking poles and sturdy shoes. As you follow the trail up, you’ll come across granite boulders, dry chapparal, basking lizards and a small waterfall flowing due to the recent rains. At the top, marvel at the emerald expanse below — the views at sunset are especially stunning — then turn around and head back to your car.

Free parking is available in a small lot at the end of Two Trees Road.
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Red Rock Canyon State Park superbloom hike.
(Matt Pawlik)

Red Rock Canyon State Park

What’s in bloom: Incredibly dense patches of woolly daisy, their bright yellow blooms a striking contrast to the towering red canyon walls. Particularly beautiful are the wildflowers that pop among the daisy blanket, like the brilliant purple splashes of owl’s clover and the dainty light purple sky pilot and Phacelia blooms.

The hike: You might have driven past the 27,000-acre Red Rock Canyon State Park on your way to the Eastern Sierras, captivated by the huge white clay and red sandstone formations from the CA-14. It’s time to finally make a stop. The blanket of colorful blooms on the sandy desert trails in spring is not to be missed.

Park at the visitor center and grab a guide to learn about the area’s history, from the pink volcanic rocks formed 3 million years ago to the Kawaiisu people who once inhabited the area. Then hike the 1-mile Ricardo Nature Trail at the southeastern edge of the lot. You’ll reach a viewpoint of the surrounding hoodoos, flowers and the expansive Mojave desert.

On your way out, stop for another short trek along the 1.25-mile Hagen Nature Trail, which sits right next to the CA-14. This is the best spot for desert dandelions — dense patches are framed by grandiose rock formations throughout the loop.

Park in the paved lot for Ricardo Nature Trail ($6 day-use fee) or dirt lot for Hagen Nature Trail (free). No dogs allowed.
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White flowers at Caspers.
(Elaine Murphy)

West Ridge Loop Trail to Bell Canyon, Caspers Wilderness Park

What’s in bloom: Native flowers in all colors of the rainbow: vermilion coast paintbrush and cardinal catchfly, orange poppies, golden yarrow, indigo Canterbury bells and Parry’s phacelia, purplish-pink splendid mariposa lilies, and white Catalina mariposa lilies. The spring blooms are most abundant on the Dick Loskorn and West Ridge trails on the western side of the park.

The hike: This 4-mile loop, which can be done clockwise or counterclockwise, highlights some of the park’s best geography and flora, including wildflowers, sandstone formations and stream crossings (bring extra socks in case your feet get wet!). Begin at the nature trail, which meanders through oak trees before connecting to the steep and sandy Dick Loskorn Trail. When the Dick Loskorn Trail dead ends, turn right onto West Ridge, where the trail levels out and serves sweeping views with plenty of greenery, thanks to the dense cover of coastal sage and lemonade berry bushes. West Ridge continues through the rest of the park, but to complete the loop, turn right to descend the Star Rise Trail and then finish at Bell Canyon beneath a shady grove of sycamores and coast live oaks. Just watch out for poison oak, which is plentiful throughout the park; remember the adage, “If leaves of three, let it be; but if it’s hairy, it’s a berry.”

The entrance fee for Caspers Wilderness Park is $3 on weekdays and $5 on weekends. Park at the Old Corral day-use area near the red windmill.
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Saddleback Butte and Antelope Valley Indian Museum superbloom hike.
(Matt Pawlik)

Saddleback Butte State Park and Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park

Northeast Antelope Valley Trail
What’s in bloom: At Saddleback Butte State Park, look for bright yellow patches of desert dandelions, the white petals of basket evening primrose and small patches of the yellow and purple mini blooms of woolly daisy and filaree under Joshua trees. Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park features those blooms and other surprises, like dazzling purple lupines and bright pink and yellow patches of sand verbena.

The hike: Established to protect the resident Joshua trees, Saddleback Butte State Park features epic, panoramic views of Lake Los Angeles, the San Gabriels and the surrounding Mojave.

Check out the visitor center for updated information on the local flowers before finding the Dowen Nature Trail, a nearly half-mile out-and-back trek. You’ll maneuver by some awesome rock formations and then descend to the valley floor, where you’ll spot the blooms.

After that hike, take a short drive to the Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park to find even more stunning wildflowers on another half-mile hike. (On the drive, look for huge blankets of woolly daisy off the road, as pictured above).

Park in the paved lot for Dowen Nature Trail ($6 day-use fee) at the visitor center. Bring your parking receipt to Antelope Valley Indian Museum for free parking. No dogs allowed.
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Theodore Payne superbloom hike.
(Matt Pawlik)

Wild Flower Hill Trail at Theodore Payne Foundation

Shadow Hills Trail
What’s in bloom: The hills are flanked with the vibrant but invasive yellow mustard blooms, but it’s not hard to find native favorites. You’ll spot silver and purple lupines swaying in the wind, as well as plenty of purple Canterbury bells that flank the trail. There’s more purple on a spur trail that descends to a charming picnic spot — this time, it’s the blooms of blue dicks and woolly blue curls.

The hike: Theodore Payne Foundation might be best known for its Wild Flower Hotline, which has been releasing weekly recorded wildflower updates since 1983. But the foundation’s 22-acre nursery in Sun Valley is a worthy spot in itself for finding native blooms, particularly on a hike through the three-quarter-mile Wild Flower Hill lollipop loop.

Park in the dirt lot and explore the grounds — the nursery offers an enormous selection of California native plants (more than 900 different species) and the passionate staff and volunteers are eager to help anyone plant some natives in their home. Head to the north end of the nursery to find the Wild Flower Hill trailhead under an oak — start your ascent here for some incredible views of the canyon, the San Fernando Valley and beyond.

After reaching the apex of the trail, with panoramic views overlooking all the canyon blooms, descend to complete the loop. You may be inspired to snag some natives you saw on this very trail.

Park in the dirt lot at the nursery. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Dogs welcomed.
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George F. Canyon superbloom hike.
(Matt Pawlik)

George F. Canyon Nature Center, Rancho Palos Verdes

What’s in bloom: You find California brittlebush, whose big yellow blooms are reminiscent of sunflowers (and often called a California bush sunflower). Also, look for milkweed (famous for being the only host plants for monarch butterflies), California asters and the vibrant red thin flowers of Indian paintbrush, which always pop against the chaparral. You’ll also be greeted with invasive mustard plants — it’s hard not to admire such a dense patch of the yellow flowers, but they are actually harmful to natives. The bright orange nasturtiums blooms you’ll see are also nonnative.

The hike: While there are plenty of spots to catch awesome blooms in Rancho Palos Verdes, a SoCal coastal haven for wildflowers, your best bet may be the 51-acre George F. Canyon Preserve.

Park at the nature center (open 1 to 4 p.m. on Fridays and 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays) and find the Stein/Hale Nature Trail behind the building. Before ascending 300 feet to the canyon summit, check out the nature garden, which hosts a variety of natives and interpretive displays. The mini garden loop is a fragrant delight, but the flowers de force are purple lupines, prairie verbenas and classic, floral purple sage. After completing the trek, consider hopping over to the 28-acre Linden H. Chandler Preserve for an additional 1.25-mile wildflower walkabout.

Park in the paved lot at the Nature Center. Dogs welcomed.
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Echo Mountain superbloom hike.
(Matt Pawlik)

Echo Mountain, Altadena

Altadena Trail
What’s in bloom: The orange monkey flower blooms are a definite highlight on the trail, but also look for sprouting succulents, like dudleya (liveforever), the bright yellow petals of golden yarrow and the eye-catching red starburst blooms of Cardinal Catchfly flowers. Staples like California buckwheat and the giant white blooms of Chaparral Yucca are found throughout the hike too.

The hike: Find the trailhead under the Cobb Estate gates and hop onto the Sam Merrill Trail to start your switchbacking, gaining more and more expansive views of the San Gabriel Valley and downtown Los Angeles (even the Pacific on clear days) as you climb. When you’re not enjoying the sprawling vistas, look for beautiful blooms flanking the trailhead or even sprouting from the canyon walls. At the top, enjoy the ruins of the old Mt. Lowe Railway as well as the Echo Mountain House Resort.

Park on the street and find the trailhead behind gates at the northeastern corner of Lake Avenue and East Loma Alta Drive. Dogs welcomed.

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