The Mountains of California •
Sunset Peak • San Gabriel Mountains
• Angeles National Forest
• Los Angeles County

Sunset Peak from the parking area

Now from about half-way up the ridge route

Looking down the valley toward Upland and Ontario. Those are the Jurupa Mountains floating above the fog layer

Looking back down the ridge. The parking area is barely visible

Some small rocky bits encountered on the last segment

The summit marker, with Mount Baldy in the background

South view at the summit area and Mount Colver

This rock in the distance looked about a foot higher than the main summit area

Date: November 3, 2013 • Elevation: 5,796 feet • Prominence: 1,273 feet • Distance: 5 miles • Time: 2.25 hours • Gain: 1,300 feet • Conditions: Sunny and cool


I was in Anaheim attending a conference, and wanted to do a hike if possible. A study of my wishlist showed this unheralded little peak fit the bill: relatively close to Anaheim, not too far from the interstate, not too long a hike, and something I could do in a couple hours and still get home in Arizona while still daylight.

Sunset Peak is nothing more than a foothill of the mighty San Gabriel - Sierra Madre Mountains, which include Mount San Antonio at over 10,000 feet, and numerous other peaks above 9,000 feet. At just under 5,800 feet, little Sunset Peak seems like a hill, but it is set far-enough apart from the main range so that it has respectable prominence, and offers some excellent vantage points of the bigger peaks without the feeling that you're standing right up against them.

In recent years I have busied myself with hiking the various peaks of Southern California, principally those in the Los Angeles-San Bernardino-Riverside county area, where I usually find myself when coming to California. I reference the peaks on the Sierra Club's Hundred Peaks List (of which this is one) and anything with respectable prominence (at least 1,000 feet). On previous visits, I had bypassed Sunset for more "interesting" peaks, but saved this one for a visit, such as now, where time was limited.

I drove out Friday afternoon to Anaheim and met with all my people, and had a busy Saturday too. It was a productive day and a half for me. There was more to the meeting for Sunday morning, but none of the talks were of interest to me, and I had the long drive home to do ... and a desire to hike. I left Anaheim early this morning. Being a Sunday, the freeways were nearly empty. I drove northbound on CA-57 (or "the" 57 as is commonly said here in SoCal) to Interstate-10, exiting the 10 at Mountain Avenue in Upland. The day was cool and a low-level fog was everywhere.

I continued north to where Mountain Road wiggles through suburbs, then lets out onto Mount Baldy Road. I drove north on this road until I came to Mount Baldy Village, then took a hard left and drove another mile on Glendora Ridge Road, parking at Cow Canyon Saddle. Sunset Peak is immediately nearby, plainly visible from the parking area. On the upside, I was above the fog layer.

The options to gain the top are to follow a steep ridge route, or a longer road-walk. The ridge route runs 1.5 miles along a firebreak. I decided to do both: I hiked the steeper ridge route up, then the road back down. The road is two miles longer each way. From the parking area, I found the firebreak and started up the steep trail. It's not a maintained trail, but a typical hiker's path, which means it goes straight up whenever possible, rather than switchbacking to moderate the grade.

There's no challenge to this route. The path worked up to a ridgebump, then leveled, then up to the next bump, and so on. At one point the path dropped about 40 feet. Sometimes it was wide and clear, other times the brush had grown thickly around it, but there seems to be enough traffic so that the way never becomes overgrown. About a mile up, the path meets the road, then veers away again for the final 350 vertical feet. The last few hundred yards included rock outcrops, which were easy to bypass. The final stretch was along the road. I arrived on the flattish top slightly over an hour after starting.

Mount Baldy, Thunder and Telegraph Mountains as viewed from Sunset Peak. The ridge that I hiked coming up is also visible.

The views from here are lovely. The full sweep of the big peaks of the Sierra Madre stretched across the north, with the rising sun highlighting the top ridges and peaks. Looking south, the millions of houses and streets were under a layer of morning fog. Looking west, I could make out all sorts of canyons and peaks, including the towers of distant Mount Wilson.

The top itself is marked by a metal sign with the number 6 painted on it. Someone had planted the American flag and a POW/MIA flag nearby. The POW/MIA one had fallen into a bush so I replanted it more sturdily. Nearby is an old helipad. To the south are some towers on Mount Colver. What caught my eye was a white rock about 100 feet to the northeast, rising up behind some brush. This rock looked higher than the summit by a foot, so I went over to it and sighted back, and yes (to me, at least), the top of this rock is definitely the highpoint of this peak. I spent about 15 minutes up top.

For the hike down, I followed the road. The road switchbacks in long sweeps through the forest. I had more shade here and it was chilly. The walk down took about an hour, as I could move fast without having to watch my footing every step. I met a bicyclist on his way up. Apparently this road passes through private property, but there are no fences or signs. I was back to my truck a little before 9 a.m., an overall hike of about 2 hours and 15 minutes. I chatted with three women who were hiking with their two dobermans. One other guy was scouting for deer.

I changed into more comfortable "driving" clothes for the long haul back to Arizona. I drove down Mount Baldy Road, which I don't like one bit. It's steep enough so that I want to ride it in lower gear, but it gets enough traffic that everyone wants to go down it at 80 miles per hour. I was only on it for a couple miles until I got back onto Mountain Avenue, then Interstate-10. Then I drove to Coachella where I got gas and a lunch, then on home, arriving around 5 in the afternoon.

I enjoyed my hike up Sunset Peak. It's not as majestic as the nearby peaks that surround it, but it's easy to get to, not too long and offers its own excellent views. I get the impression it's a favorite peak for locals who just want a workout.

(c) 2013, 2019 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience. .