A short but steep hike to a prominent ridge in the San Gabriel High Country. You’ll pass through a defunct picnic area, an abandoned ski resort, and top it off with outstanding views of the middle of the front range and San Gabriel Wilderness. While it might not be a Destination Hike, it’s well worth the detour if you’re in the area.
Just a few miles away from Islip Saddle, and a few miles past the trailheads for Winston Peak and Mount Akawie, you’ll see dilapidated signs for the Vista Picnic Area. On the right south side of the road, you’ll come upon a rarely used collection of picnic tables, nestled in the shade of the east-west Kratka Ridge.
This was the last of three short hikes I did with the Sierra Club a few weeks ago, and even at the end of May, there was still a bit of snow in the shadier areas.
After this, most of the elevation-gaining work on the trail is done. You’ll reach a graded old ski trail / road and follow it to the west, where you’ll meet up with other old ski runs and continue west beneath an old wooden ski lift. Near the ridge, you’ll get some excellent views of the San Gabriel Wilderness to the south.
Just beyond the ski lift is a very short scramble up to the Ridge’s high point, which just happens to also have one of the most impressive views of the middle San Gabriels, with clear views of Waterman Mountain past Twin Peaks and all the way down to the civilization you just escaped from.
After spending a short rest at the summit, scramble back down the way you came — taking care on that steep and slippery descent.
Fair. While sections of this trail are on unmapped use trails, the best route for the ascent is more easily visible once you're looking at it. This route is partially on established trails, partially on abandoned fire roads, and partially on use-trails. There are a few short, steep sections that could present some challenges.
From the 210 in La Canada Flintridge, take the Angeles Crest Highway 36.2 miles, past the Buckhorn Campground. Park at the Vista Picnic Area on the south side of the road and display your Adventure Pass. Note that Google Maps Directions may show you the correct location on the map, but give you directions past the actual trailhead once you're liste
From the 210 in La Canada Flintridge, take the Angeles Crest Highway 36.2 miles, past the Buckhorn Campground. Park at the Vista Picnic Area on the south side of the road and display your Adventure Pass. Note that Google Maps may show you the correct location on the map, but give you directions past the actual trailhead once you're listening to turn-by-turn directions.
With recent wildfire damage and ongoing waves of COVID-19 infections and restrictions, National Forest, National Park, and other public land closures, restrictions, or social distancing guidelines may be in-effect.
If infection rates are on the rise, please do your best to remain local for your hikes. If you do travel, please be mindful of small gateway communities and avoid as much interaction as you can. Also remember to be extra prepared with supplies so you don't have to stop somewhere outside your local community for gas, food, or anything else.
Please be sure to contact the local land management agency BEFORE you head out, as these conditions are likely to change without enough notice for us to fully stay on top of them. Thanks, and stay safe!
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