The Mountains of California •
Throop Peak & Lewis Peak • San Gabriel Mountains
• Angeles National Forest
• Los Angeles County

Throop Peak from near the start of the Dawson Saddle trail

Another view

And one more

Sign at the Pacific Crest Trail junction. Go right

The Pacific Crest Trail and Throop Peak

Last stand of old growth just below the summit

The top

East view toward Mount Burnham

Plaque for Dr Throop

View down from the PCT, with the Angeles Crest Highway and Mount Lewis

Mount Lewis again

The high ridge containing Throop Peak as viewed from near the trailhead

My truck up there, plus Mount Lewis

Snowplow storage shed and trailhead for Mount Lewis

The trail up Mount Lewis is steep...

...but quick

Summit stick

Throop Peak as seen from Mount Lewis

Date: May 11, 2014 • Elevation: 9,138 feet (Throop), 8,396 feet (Lewis) • Prominence: 618 feet (Throop), 493 feet (Lewis) • Distance: 4.25 miles (Throop), 0.75 mile (Lewis) • Time: 2.5 hours for both • Gain: 1,235 feet (Throop), 493 feet (Lewis) • Conditions: Sunny and extremely windy

CaliforniaMainPB (Throop)PB (Lewis)

Throop Peak is a relatively "major" summit in the San Gabriel Mountains. It is one of a handful of peaks that exceed 9,000 feet in elevation, and is one of a string of peaks that form the crowning ridge of the San Gabriel Mountains in eastern Los Angeles County. Unfortunately, these peaks are hidden from the millions of people living in the Los Angeles basin, as they are situated more north in the range. However, the Angeles Crest Highway (State Route CA-2) runs parallel to this string of peaks, so access to them is easy.

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) runs along this high ridge, which, roughly speaking, "starts" with Islip Peak at the west end, and Mount Baden-Powell on the east. Many people hike the whole string of peaks --- Islip, Hawkins, Throop, Burnham and Baden-Powell --- in one long dayhike, using a car shuttle. Other trails allow access to the PCT directly from Highway-2 so that there are shorter options to gain a subset of these summits.

Yesterday, I had hiked Ontario Peak south in the Mount Baldy area, and had returned to Wrightwood where I rested my weary bones another night at my parents' place in town. Today, I was looking for a shorter hike and identified Throop Peak as an objective, with easy access to this peak via the Dawson Saddle Trail. The hike's statistics, about 4 miles round trip and about 1,300 feet of gain, looked good to me.

The winds had picked up over the night and into today. Southern California was experiencing Santa Ana conditions, when high pressure in the deserts cause winds to funnel over, through and down the various passes, peaks and canyons of the mountains that ring the L.A. basin. As I drove the 15 miles to Dawson Saddle, the winds were brisk and consistent, generally blowing at 25 m.p.h. sustained with gusts about 40 m.p.h. The air temperatures were in the 40s, so the winds added to the chill. However, it was sunny and clear. Other than the heavy wind, conditions were actually very nice. I started hiking about 8:45 a.m.

I found the let-in point for the Dawson Saddle Trail, scampered up the initial steep slopes, and within moments had entered into old-growth forest, but open enough for views and to experience the wind. Shortly, I met a guy hiking down, and he said it was fierce up high, and freezing cold, too. He was going light and had just a bandana to keep his head warm. I had a knit cap plus basic outerwear. As long as I kept moving, I was comfortable.

The Dawson Saddle Trail proceeds south along a ridge aiming directly for Throop Peak, and spends little time meandering with switchbacks. The gradient is lenient and consistent and I made good time. I got used to the wind, but sometimes, as I crested near the ridge, the funnelling effect would create gusts of about 50 m.p.h., enough to knock me off-balance.

The trail eventually abuts the main mass of Throop Peak, then bends left and works its way up to the main range crest, intersection the PCT at about 8,920 feet elevation. Shsortly, a use-path branches off the PCT, aiming for the summit. I actually followed the PCT for a few yards simply because being in the lee of the wind, I had calm conditions for the first time all hike. But soon, I left the PCT and scrambled up an open slope to meet with this use-path.

The final climb is a short, easy grunt, gaining about 200 feet in elevation in under a quarter-mile. The top is bare, surrounded by woody scrub, with a metal plaque placed at the top honoring Amos Throop, for whom the peak is named. I signed in the log and also snapped a couple images, but because of the wind, I didn't stay long. I descended the way I came up and jog-walked the entire trail back to my truck. Along the way, I had to stand aside for a group of about a dozen hikers, all Asian and all hiking within inches of one another. Only a couple acknowledged me, the rest just hiking with their head down. They were the only people I saw other than that guy when I started my hike.

I was back to my truck at 10:25 a.m., a one-hour, 45-minute hike. I took refuge in my truck to get out of the wind and relax a little. On the upside, the temperatures had risen about ten degrees, so the chill wasn't so severe.

Next on my agenda was the smaller Mount Lewis, which sits on the north side of the highway, directly across from the trailhead for the Dawson Saddle Trail. Mount Lewis is essentially the last bump on this north-trending ridge before it starts to dramatically lose elevation towards the foothills and deserts below.

I walked past a snow-plow shed, and found a steep use-path that wasted no time going up. The hike to the top is short but quite steep, gaining nearly 500 feet in about three-eighths of a mile. I was on top the broad summit after 15 minutes, and the wind was heavy, as expected. I snapped a couple more photos, then walked back down, taking care not to slip on the loose, steep slopes. I was back to my truck after a total of 25 minutes.

These two hikes were sufficient for me today, and I returned to Wrightwood and spent the rest of the day doing a whole lot of nothing much. I sat around, napped, walked into town to the shops, got a sandwich, cleaned the house a little, and generally enjoyed the down time.

I left the house early the next morning, aiming for today's objective, San Gabriel Peak. It would be my last time at this house, so I gave it a pat goodbye and hoped my folks got a good offer soon.

(c) 2014, 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. .