80-2 Mt. Lewis from Dawson Saddle

Participant: Jane Strong
Date: 01 September 1999

Overview: The quintessential San Gabriel Mountains hiking trail: steep, high and dry. A breath-taking, no-nonsense, no-switchback trail that heads straight to the mercifully flattish top. Fabulous views.

Directions: From SR2, the Angeles Crest Highway, turn left at the Dawson Saddle sign. Park near the maintenance shed. Trail begins west (mountain) side of the shed.

Distance: Round trip is ~1 mile.

Elevation Change: Begins at Dawson Saddle, 7,901' if you read the sign, 7,903' on the topo map to 8,396' at the summit, or 493' change.

Season: Probably May to November, from snow melt to snow fall, whenever the roads are open. The trail is shaded by Jeffrey pine and is on the east side making late snow melt a possibility.

Weather: 70° F at 12:30 pm.

Trail condition: The ascent is a calf-stretching, knee-aching 45° angle up an even steeper pine-needled, rubble-covered, slippery slope - not for the timid or breathless. Descent in some places required putting my center of gravity behind me and slip sliding down using hands and feet for brakes and navigation. Once on top it is flat and easy walking.

Time: Because I lingered over the views, it took me two hours; but another source says one. Take a lunch; take your time. The views on top are worth it.

Plants: Jeffrey pine, white fir, curl-leaf mountain mahogany (the desert kind), sugar pine, California fuchsia, mountain whitethorn (aka snowbush), 3 kinds of buckwheat, rabbitbrush, Grinnell's penstemon, stemless onion, pussypaws, lousewort, gooseberry

Bugs: Big flies with red eyes and gray lines on their backs

Wildlife: Zillions of dragonflies in migration, yellow-winged grasshoppers going clackety-clack, a single pale swallowtail, chickadees and ravens

Views: Looking south southeast across Dorr Canyon, one has great perspective on the northsides of Mt. Baden-Powell, Mt. Burnham and Throop Peak. Moving west to another viewpoint, there is Mt. Islip, Islip Saddle with the smoke from the Bridge Fire pouring through, the tops of Twin Peaks are all that are visible in the murk until Mt. Williamson in the clear. Between Mt. Lewis and Mt. Williamson, one overlooks the canyon of the South Fork of Big Rock Creek which can be followed out to the desert. More desert views, also in the murk from another fire. Mt. Lewis itself is very much in the clear being higher and windward of the smoke. The great ridges of the San Andreas Fault Zone are next, then finally ski-run scarred Blue Ridge to close the circle.

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Copyright © 1999-2003 by Jane Strong.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Jane Strong
Last update: 09 September 1999 (map link updated 7 April 2003)