Foothill Flyers Mountain Trail Runs
Last update August 20, 2013
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Echo Mountain - Inspiration Point, Altadena
Sam Merrill and Castle Canyon Trails


Fast hikers can make it to the Echo Mountain ruins in about 1hour. There is no water on this loop so carry enough to last you depending on conditons - Check the Altadena Weather Cam.

The start is from the very top of Lake Av in Pasadena. From the 210 take the Lake Av off ramp and go north toward the mountains til you cant go any farther (at Loma Alta Dr,). Park on Lake Av. or Loma Alta. Thomas Map 536-A3-4. If you plan to run this trail on the weekend, parking can be sparce and if the case, consider parking at Farnsworth Park.

The trailhead is at the NE corner of Lake and Loma Alta. Run east about 100 yards along the fence until you come to the trail sign and a drinking fountain. From there you will go NE down into a little valley and up the other side to the start of the switchbacks. 2.7 miles from Lake Ave up the Sam Merrill Trail, you will come to the top and a trail junction. From there you will go south on the old Mt. Lowe Railway bed about 100 yards, past the upper Sam Merrill Trail and Castle Canyon trail junction and you should see the large cable car gear at the ruins.

Runners should be able to make it to the White City and Mt. Lowe railway ruins before the turn around at 7:10 PM given our 6:15 PM start. Fast walking time up the hill is about 55 minutes. So if you want to have some time at the top to look around the ruins and see all the photo historical markers, leave early, it is well worth it.

For those interested in the history of the Mt. Lowe area check out the old post cards, Mt. Lowe Preservation Society, Mt. Lowe Railway Historical Committee and Rubio Canyon web sites.

See the photo album from a Weekend Warrior run in February 2013 from Farnsworth Park to the ruins at Echo Mountain.

L to R: The Bullwheel was the center of power pulling the long 1" cable with the 2 Incline Cars attached up and down the Great Incline to Rubio Canyon below; Mary Ann yells at Tom through the Echo megaphone.


L to R: Robert stands atop the ruins of the restaurant entrance steps; just below the steps is the cable car landing with the historical signs

Picture at right is looking SW toward the LA city high rise just after sunset from the Incline Railway landing.

From Echo, you can extend the run to the Inspiration Point Sight Tubes for a total round trip of just under 10 miles from the Top of Lake. The shortest trail from Echo to the Sight Tubes is via the Castle Canyon trail. However, it gets very steep after a mile with many switchbacks. Best to make a loop of it going up the Castle Canyon trail and returning back down the Sam Merrill Trail. A longer but easier route is to take the Mt. Lowe Railway trail from Echo Mtn to the Mt. Lowe Truck Road for a round trip of 13.5 miles.

trail mapClick on the map to download a copy to print out and take with you.

View of Inspiration point and the Sight Tube structure just after you round one of the many switch backs on the Castle Canyon Trail. Altitude is 4400 ft msl.


Yes, there used to be an Ostrich Farm in South Pasadena you could see through one of the sight tubes on a clear day.


Trail signs at the top of the Castle Canyon and the Idlehour trails.


Top of Sam Merrill trail sign at the junction of the Mt. Lowe road, Idlehour trail and road to the Inspiration Point Sight Tubes. The Cobb Estate is where the trail starts at the Top of Lake Ave.



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