30-1 Eaton Saddle to Mt. Markham

Participants: Craig Cheetham and Tom Chester
Date: 7 March 1997 (Written up 7 March 1997)

I've always wanted to explore Mt. Markham, and this was finally my chance. Mt. Markham has a very distinctive profile as seen from Pasadena, Mt. Wilson and other places to the south and east of it. The profile is very flat, and thus I had always envisioned that there was a plateau at its top, even though I had no reason for doing so. I never remembered to consult a topo map to find out. Thus I was very surprised to get to the top and find that it is just a flat ridge!

It was a beautiful morning to start out. The temperature was great and it was relatively clear. We got to Markham Saddle quickly, where you can go in 5 different directions.

  1. A right turn takes you to San Gabriel Peak.
  2. Going straight ahead on the fireroad takes you to Mt. Lowe Campground.
  3. A leftish turn takes you to Mt. Lowe and Mt. Markham.
  4. A more than 90° left turn apparently takes you somewhere, but Craig says that trail quickly peters out.
  5. You can go back the way we came.
A sign has been placed between the trail to Lowe and Markham and the fireroad, identifying the fireroad as leading to the Mt. Lowe Campground and the trail as leading to Mt. Lowe.

We headed toward Mt. Lowe and Mt. Markham, and quickly reached the saddle between Lowe and Markham. The ridge clearly led to Mt. Markham from there, but we didn't know whether there would be a trail, and the final part of the ridge up to Mt. Markham looked pretty steep to me.

It turned out, of course, that many people had traversed this path, and there was a clear trail to the top. Not only had people been there, but there were many remnants of much more heavy-duty use. Heavy gauge wire was found along parts of the trail, there are a series of "posts" consisting of 4 pieces of wood 3' high or so bound together with wire, and an especially intriguing eye-bolt, made of 1/2" steel with a 2" outer diameter eye, left in the ground. If anyone knows what use was made of these materials, please let me know.

The view from the top was absolutely amazing. Almost every major peak in the San Gabriels and beyond was visible. To the west, the entire range of the Santa Monicas was visible, from Griffith Park to Old Boney overlooking Ventura. The Simi Hills outlined the San Fernando Valley. Going north, we saw Verdugo Mountain, Mt. Lukens, Brown Mountain, Mt. Disappointment, and San Gabriel Peak. From north to east, we saw Pacifico, Vetter, Waterman, Twin Peaks, Mt. Hawkins (with Baden-Powell just barely sneaking out from behind Hawkins), South Mt. Hawkins, Dawson, Pine, Iron Mountain, Baldy, Thunder Mountain, Telegraph Peak and Ontario Peak. The San Gabriel Fault was prominent, as always, to the north of Wilson. Off in the distance was San Gorgonio. San Jacinto was hidden by Mt. Wilson. To the southeast was Santiago Peak in the Santa Anas. Palos Verdes and Catalina completed the scene.

As we ate lunch, the view gradually got worse and worse as the haze built up.

I was a bit worried that the descent was going to be tricky, but I had no problem going down.

Explanation of columns for all trip logs

#MileageTime arrivedTime leftAltitudeComments
00.009:23 Eaton Saddle
10.509:35 5150Markham - San Gabriel Peak Saddle
21.109:57 5300Markham - Mt. Lowe Saddle
31.7510:41 5600Can marking summit of Mt. Markham
41.8010:4911:395650North end of Mt. Markham; lunch stop
52.0011:43 5700=3
62.3512:00 5450At base of steepest descent. "wire" rope along worst part of it.
72.7012:09 5300Big eyehook.
82.8012:14 5150=2
93.3012:29 5150=1
103.8012:45 5050Eaton Saddle

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Copyright © 1997 by Tom Chester.
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Updated 18 June 1997.