Ok so I’ve been a little preoccupied to blog lately, but last month [04.19.15], Twinny, our friend Amanda and I went on quite the adventurous Sunday Funday. We decided to explore the Dawn Mine in Altadena, which is the same mountain as Echo Mountain/ Mt Lowe Railway Trail. Normally I do a full research on all my hikes prior to embarking on my journey, but I did a quick read this time and it seemed pretty simple; I was under the impression it would be 6 miles round trip 1000 ft or so of elevation gain… boy was I wrong!
⊗ Trail: Dawn Mine
⊗ Distance: 9.41 miles
⊗ Time: 4 hrs 38 mins (7.35 of actual hiking)
⊗ Elevation Gain: 1955 ft (max: 3747 ft)
It seemed like we spent the WHOLE day there! We picked up some Taiwanese breakfast around 9:20 am and started the hike at 10 am. The parking lot is just around the corner from Cobb Estate. There’s street parking right outside of the trailhead of Millard Canyon on Chaney I believe.
The beginning was a bit confusing. We started on the fire road on Sunset Ridge and took the wrong trail. When you see the first trailhead to the left, take it. it says Sunset Ridge trail and it’s about ten minutes in. Keep in mind the whole way there, you decline since you are going down to the mine. When the trail splits again fifteen to twenty minutes again later, keep left. Do not take the Sunset Ridge trail (but then again our hike did take a looootttt longer than expected so maybe we took the wrong trail). From here, it was just a lot of scrambling through rocks, small creeks, trees, bushes, spiderwebs… you get the point. Thank goodness people drew arrows so you know where to go… sometimes it just takes some time to find one. But when in doubt, go with your gut, the trail should always lead somewhere. & there was a point where it seemed like w made a big u-turn but that’s just all part of the fun…
2 hours later, we arrived. FINALLY. It seriously seemed like we were never going to find it! What’s worse is we weren’t even sure we would be able to find our way back since we literally scrambled in every possible direction. -_-
We played around and explored a bit at the mine. I was too chicken to go too far into the mine (scared of the dark… one fear at a time) but Amanda went in to explore. Another group came up right behind us which was surprising since we didn’t hear a single other person on the hike, but the guy was telling us there is another way up and out, so we decided to wait and tag along with his group of five or so.
The optional route up (instead of same way out and back) was a short distance hike up to the fireroad, but a big elevation climb. It took us about an hour to get all the way up and the trail is a little tricky to find, but once you are on it, it’s a clear, straight shot up — very narrow at points though so be careful! The whole hike’s elevation gain is right here since you are starting at the very bottom of the hike and reaching the highest point, so it may take some huffing and puffing for a beginner. After you get to the fireroad, you are at the Mt Lowe Railway Dawn Station and it’s a clear path down. The decline is slight but longer, maybe three miles or so. I believe it took us 6 miles from the trailhead to the mine and back to the top of the fire road. We finished the hike at a bit over 9 miles so it makes sense. The fire road connects to the one we came in on.
As you can see, we like to have fun on our hikes with lots of silly photo ops. This was good to try once but I’m pretty sure I am never coming back… the scramble is just too much of a headache for me. Definitely an adventure though if you are looking for a different kind of hike… almost reminded me of the Bridge to Nowhere hike.