Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Echo Mountain Hike

Originally posted on

Sunday Jul 06, 2008

Living in the San Gabriel Valley (foothills of San Gabriel Mountain Ranges) for over three years now, I almost had feeling of guilt for not exploring the nearby mountains. San Gabriel mountains form barrier between Greater Los Angeles Area and Mohave Desert. At 3,067 m (10,064 ft), the highest peak in the range is Mount San Antonio, aka Mt. Baldy.
While searching for outdoor activities around this area I came across excellent online resource – Here you can find and active community who love outdoor activities. A quick glace at the event calender reveals multiple outdoor events happening every week! The events are not just limited to hiking but other activities such as biking, camping, backpack, river-rafting, cannoeing. Through the website you can sign for an activity and also organize one. You need to be member though to sign up (first 3 free, $25 per year thereafter) for an event.
I saw one hike happening close to where I live. Following Sam Merrill Trail, at top of Lake Avenue in Altedena, this was hike to Echo Mountain Peak. With total round-trip distance of around 6 miles, the hike involves total gain of around 1400'. In a group of 6 (3 ladies and 3 men), we started off at 6:30 pm. Although warned fairly by the leader regarding the difficulty of hike, I was determined to try it out. The other hikers were quite experienced and maintained brisk pace all throughout the hike. After around one mile of hike, I was totally exhausted and was not sure if would be able to complete the hike. Though the ladies were leading the pack, the group leader stayed back to watch me. With lot of encouragement and some teasing by our group leader, I dragged along and finally made it to the top in one hour and two minutes, lagging by approx 5 minutes from the leading group. I was told that for first timer, I did good. Overall, it was great experience and I would recommend it to anyone who would like a decent hike.

Echo Mountain, also known as White City has rich past. Once a place with a resort with two hotels - Echo Mountain House and The Chalet. It also had an observatory and a small zoo. Professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe and engineer David J. Macpherson built a railroad connection to Echo Mountain, which eventually be visited by over 3 million people from the year 1896 - 1936. Through series of fires and windstorms and waning public interest, the city was destroyed. The remains of the resort and the railroad can still be seen, reminiscent of the past glory of the place.

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