Hiking to the White City Ruins at Echo Mountain

The White City Ruins are what remain of a resort that existed at Echo Mountain in the early 1900’s.  There are remnants of of the resort and associated structures, incline railway leading to it, and the electric railway leading from Echo Mountain to the Alpine Tavern (now Mt. Lowe Campground) near Inspiration Point.  In addition, there are several signs throughout the ruins sharing the history of the resort and the people who built it.

View overlooking remains of the incline railway landing from what is left of the stairway leading to the hotel.

An extremely popular way to get to Echo Mountain is to take the Lower Sam Merrill Trail.  This trail offers great views of the city and on a clear day the ocean and Catalina Island are easily seen.  These views are the primary appeal of the trail itself until one reaches Echo Mountain.  Significantly, there isn’t much shade on this trail.  Therefore, a great time to hike it is in the winter, early in the morning, or at dusk.  I prefer to hike it at dusk or even after sunset.  Several hikers make their way up to Echo Mountain in the evening, so it’s relatively safe to travel at night when compared with other areas of the forest.  With the ocean off in the distance, sunsets are typically magnificent.

"Zoomed in" view toward the ocean from the Lower Sam Merrill Trail

Another way to get to Echo Mountain is to take the Sunset Ridge Trail from one of the two trailheads off of Chaney Trail in Millard Canyon.  The shorter path starts from the gate and meets up with the Upper Sunset Ridge Trail and ends up at the Cape of Good Hope.  Unlike the Lower Sam Merrill Trail, the views are essentially of the forest.  The trail is often shady and there are nice views of Millard Falls.  Presently however, access to the falls is closed.  There is also a nice picnic area with a view of the city at Sierra Saddle just over half way to the Cape of Good Hope.

Upper Sunset Ridge Trail

The longer path starts near the Millard Canyon Campground.  It includes the short lower part of the Sunset Ridge Trail (about 0.8 miles) and is a shady trail leading up to the Upper Sunset Ridge Trail.

Lower Sunset Ridge Trail

From the Cape of Good Hope, the Lower Mt. Lowe Railway Trail leads to Echo Mountain.  This trail is interesting as there are remains of the old electric railway and several railway bridges.  Along the way, there are signs throughout showing pictures of the train at the time it was running.

Lower Mt. Lowe Railway Trail

If you are going with a group and taking multiple cars, another option is to leave a car at the Cobb Estate Trailhead and a car at one of the two trailheads off of Chaney Trail and do a shuttle hike.

Vetter Mountain

Vetter Mountain is a fire lookout offering excellent views in all directions.  The lookout is the high point within a relatively hilly area looking over smaller hills and valleys over a long distance.  However, it is also lower than most peaks seen further off into the distance. So, the views are simultaneously both expansive and enclosed.  The only exception is that on a clear day, the ocean can be seen through a low point in the range east of Mt. Wilson. There is a picnic area on Vetter Mountain as well as several picnic areas along the way leading to it. 

View from Vetter Mountain

The shortest route to Vetter Mountain is to take the hike up the road up from the parking area at Charlton Flats.

Road leading up from Charlton Flats parking area.

Another option is to take the Silver Moccasin Trail down to Big Tujunga Creek and up to its junction at Charlton Flats and then proceed to Vetter Mountain.

Silver Moccasin Trail close to junction at Charlton Flats

A car shuttle option would cover all the above mentioned territory but with less miles than completing a round trip using the Silver Moccasin Trail.

View from un-paved road close to Vetter Mountain