HIKE TO: South Mount Hawkins TRAIL: Windy Gap Trail > South Mt Hawkins Trail > Hawkins Ridge Trail MILES: 9.33 miles TIME: 3:40 hrs DATE I WENT: 11/10/19 DIFFICULTY: easy ELEVATION: 7760 ft ELEVATION GAIN/ LOSS: 1943 ft HIKE PERMIT: no PARKING PERMIT: yes, adventure pass LOCATION: Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles/ Southern California
Day hiking to the summit of South Mt. Hawkins in Angeles National Forest can be done as a strenuous loop or an easy-moderate out-and-back trail. I actually meant to do the loop but got distracted catching up with an old friend and obliviously followed the sign for South Mt Hawkins, taking the easier trail on the forest road.
The trailhead starts at the Crystal Lake Recreation Area Campground in Angeles National Forest off Hwy 39 in Azusa area.
[9:12 am] From the parking lot, start on the Windy Gap Trail which is a flat and shaded trail through the trees of the campground area for about 8 mins before reaching the junction for Deer Flats. Continue straight for 0.7 miles and you’ll reach the forest road less than 30 mins from the trailhead. This part was short, uphill and exposed.
From here, you can continue on the trail across the forest road to continue on the windy gap trail towards Mt Islip or the strenuous loop I previously mentioned, or you can head right on the South Mt. Hawkins Lookout Road for 4 miles to reach the summit of South Mt. Hawkins.
[9:40 am] The South Mt. Hawkins trail is very straightforward; not the best maintained in certain parts as it’s a less-trafficked trail and there is some tree coverage but a lot of exposed parts of the trail if you hike in the morning.
[10:24 am] You’ll start to get views of the San Gabriel Reservoir and San Gabriel Dam which you can also see from the peak.
[10:55 am] Reach the junction of Hawkins Ridge Trail. This is where the strenuous loop from the Windy Gap Trail connects and from here, South Mt. Hawkins summit is only half a mile away! This ridge trail is short and narrow but climbs about 300 ft in elevation gain which may not be much, but compared to the rest of the hike, it’s sure to get your heart beating fast as you start the final ascent. If you forego the Hawkings Ridge Trail, you can continue on the forest road to the right to reach the peak. We went up the Hawkins Ridge Trail and lollipop looped down the wide trail road.
From the top of South Mt. Hawkins, enjoy views of Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel Mountains, Azusa Canyon, San Gabriel Dam and Reservoir.