Distance (round-trip)

7.3 mi

Time

3.5 hrs

Elevation Gain

1000 ft

Season

Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter

Weather

A short stint on the Pacific Crest Trail to a mountain with a lot of history. A cool, shaded, north-face trail takes you to the summit’s old Nike Missile radio base. Unfortunately, the largest wildfire in modern Los Angeles County history has left most of this area in disrepair and inaccessible to hikers.

IMPORTANT: Please note that the roads leading to this trailhead are still closed due to damage from the 2009 Station Fire and the trails themselves are in very poor condition. We strongly recommend you choose another trail to hike until repair crews have had their chance to maintain this trail.

Inauspicious
The trail begins just past a small metal gate at the northeast corner of a dirt parking area on the north side of the road and hooks up with the Pacific Crest Trail right away. The pine-lined path was shaded and cool, and starts off nice and level.

PCT, This Way
Mount Gleason 003

The PCT is well cared-for and generally clear of debris. There are, however, several nice fallen trees on the sides of the trail.

Trunk Angles
Eventually the trail does start to pick up a bit of elevation but it’s nothing too difficult. It is nice, however, to get out of the tree cover for a little while and see the stark transition the landscape makes – from desert to chaparral to pine. No matter how many times I see that, I’m always awestruck.

Mount Gleason 006
The trail was remote but I still passed a few other hikers on the way in. One was a new family carting off their baby daughter (good to get started early) and another was a group of pole-hiking older folks, who looked like they were having a great time out in the woods.

As the trail continues up the north side of Mount Gleason, it intersects what is either an old dirt road or the former grade of the PCT.

Mount Gleason 008
The book I’d read about this trail said it was possible to take this old road down into the canyon below, where the remnants of several major gold mines still stood. I followed the grade down for a short while, but eventually it got overgrown and I lost the path. I suppose it may be possible to just scramble down into the canyon, but as I didn’t have a great topo map with me, I just kept climbing up toward the summit instead.

There is an old gold mine in the canyon below this trail, but I’ve been informed that the land is privately held and no permission is given for hikers to enter.

As you get closer to the ridge, the trees start thinning out into mini-meadows, which are absolutely beautiful to hike through when the wind is tossing the grasses around.

Mount Gleason 010
The summit was surreal.

The former site of a Nike missile radio base, a large chunk of the natural summit had been leveled for the buildings, which have since been removed. The result is a seemingly out-of-place plateau surrounded by the more traditional-feeling forest.

Mount Gleason 013
Even though that weirded me out a little bit, by stepping south to the ridge I got a beautiful sweeping vista of Mount Lukens, Fox Mountain, and Condor Peak – their lower elevations still blanketed by our marine layer.

Mount Gleason 011
And just a tad north of the flattened land was an old, crumbling cabin or some leftover army building. If you hike here in the spring, you may also be treated to a nice bloom of lupines nearby.

Mount Gleason 014
Mount Gleason 016

After a short walk down a long disused paved road, the trail meets back up with the paved / dirt road I used to get to the trailhead, right by a more intact abandoned radio tower.

The tower is pretty much stripped bare and surrounded by a nasty barbed wire fence, so you won’t be able to do much exploring … but if you walk around the north side of the complex, you can find some nice boulders to sit on while you eat lunch … and take in some nice views of Strawberry Peak and the backs of the front range while you’re at it.

Mount Gleason 017
Mount Gleason 019

Behind the Wires

Mount Gleason 024

When you’re done, follow the abandoned road back to the trailhead.

Mount Gleason 027

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Modern Hiker, Author of "Day Hiking Los Angeles," Walking Meditator, Native Plant Enthusiast.





Camping

Dog-Friendly

Historical Interest

Solitude

Views / Vista

Trail Map

21 Comments

dave

dave Jan 13, 2018 21:01

Hiked the PCT from Mill Creek Summit to Mt. Gleason, 21 miles roundtrip. The PCT is in good shape except for a few down trees and some brushy locations. The views, forest, and grade of the trail will make this a pleasant hike if you are up to the mileage. Some of the locations you have to be able to look past the skeleton forest and enjoy the views.

Leave a Reply to dave Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Juan Carlos Sep 11, 2016 12:09In reply to: Juan Carlos

Forgot to add that we did this hike on September 10th 2016.

Leave a Reply to Juan Carlos Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Juan Carlos Sep 11, 2016 12:09In reply to: Kelly Martin

****This Area is Closed to the public****

We hiked this trail from Mill Creek Summit to Messenger Flat Campground (11.5 Miles one way).
There we met a ranger that told us this whole area is closed to the public due to the Sand Fire. She was nice about it and let us go on our way back to Mill Creek.
The whole trail is exposed due to the Station fire decimated most of the forest.
The ranger told us they had been prepared to open the road (Mt Gleason Road and Santa Clara divide) to traffic soon when the Sand fire happened, so it's now been delayed.
On our way up we stopped at the Memorial for the two firefighters that lost their lives battling the Station fire and looked at the remains of the Correctional facility that burned down on that fire also.
All total we did 22 miles with about 4000 feet elevation gain. We prepared to carry at least 4 liters of water on a hot day I had a 3 liter and wished I had one more.
The views from the trail are very impressive, specially on a clear day we had.

Leave a Reply to Juan Carlos Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Richard Jun 6, 2016 18:06In reply to: Paul

I went there today. It's still closed.

Leave a Reply to Richard Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Kelly Martin Apr 26, 2016 07:04

Yes, the road is closed usually due to the loss of the structures from the station fire. There is no short route any longer. Count on at least 15 to 20 miles total, depending upon the trail you take. Count on very little shade and trees as the station fire wiped everything out and there are very few trees left. The photographs posted are beautiful but the entire area has changed. Dense, short growth brush has overgrown nearly everything but the main trail. The shortcut trails from the road to the PCT are mostly overgrown and impassable. Bring lots of water. Don't hike this in the summer or on a hot day.

Leave a Reply to Kelly Martin Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Paul Oct 12, 2015 14:10In reply to: Carla McNellis

As of 10/11/15 the road is still closed at Mill Creek/N3 so plan on a much longer day!

Leave a Reply to Paul Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Carla Apr 12, 2015 14:04In reply to: Casey Schreiner

I agree that the road is closed. What is the shortest hiking route that you know of? My partner and I would like to get up there but we are unaware of any routes that are less than 20 or so miles. Thanks.

Leave a Reply to Carla Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Casey Schreiner Apr 11, 2015 18:04In reply to: Carla McNellis

99% sure the road is still closed - I'd call the ranger station to check before you trekked out there.

Leave a Reply to Casey Schreiner Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Carla McNellis Apr 11, 2015 17:04

Hi. I was reading this and was surprised that the hike was listed as only 7.3 miles. Does that mean that the road is now open? Thank you.
Carla

Leave a Reply to Carla McNellis Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

James Sep 22, 2013 22:09In reply to: James

[email protected]

Leave a Reply to James Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

James Sep 22, 2013 22:09

I would have to guess you have come into possession of the divided section. It is on a very steep slope for the most part. If you have information on it I will confirm.

Leave a Reply to James Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scott Smith Sep 22, 2013 21:09In reply to: James

James, my wife and I sort of recently (due to the death of my mother-in-law) became 1/3 owners of a gold mine. We may be neighbors! I ran across your comment as I was searching for how to heck to get there. You seem in the know. We have no delusions of being suddenly wealthy, but it would be fun to at least see it.

Leave a Reply to Scott Smith Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

James Aug 4, 2013 21:08

The Gleason road is closed by order until at least May 24, 2014. It may be extended - who knows.

The land on which the gold mine rests is private.........and there is no permission given for access - I know because it is my land.

If you want to visit the top of Mt. Gleason there are a few routes, but it will be a LONG walk or you need a 4X4 to get up the Edison road.

Leave a Reply to James Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Jim Dec 28, 2012 23:12

I drove up to hike it today, and Mt. Gleason Road is still closed.

Leave a Reply to Jim Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Modern Hiker May 1, 2011 15:05In reply to: Seth

@Seth - The link in the FAQ was to a Sierra Club high-res file that has apparently been taken down. I've since redirected the site to my own homegrown Google Map.

Leave a Reply to Modern Hiker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Seth Apr 30, 2011 17:04

Nevermind, drove up there today and Mt Gleason is still closed off. Also Mt Pacifico is also closed.

Leave a Reply to Seth Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Seth Apr 29, 2011 15:04

The link in your FAQ is not working for the station fire closed area. Does anyone have any info on whether or not Gleason is still closed as of 4/29/2011?

Leave a Reply to Seth Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Modern Hiker Feb 3, 2010 10:02In reply to: Michelle Roca

Michelle, I have a map of the Closed Area posted in the FAQ. Gleason's still off-limits.

Leave a Reply to Modern Hiker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Michelle Roca Feb 3, 2010 10:02

Anyone know if the roads are open to get to this trail head yet? I tried back in October but both highways leading out where shut down because of the Station Fires.

Leave a Reply to Michelle Roca Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solaria Jul 9, 2009 18:07

So, what's the story on the CowBell hanging on the hook at the top of the trail?

Leave a Reply to Solaria Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Peter Aug 17, 2008 16:08

Thanks for the suggestion. Got this hike in today (8/17/08), and although we had a late start there was a pleasant breeze and enough shade to keep it cool. There's also now Plate Boundary Observatory on the flat-top former missile site area, which was neat to learn about (see http://pboweb.unavco.org/). If nothing else, the drive up was beautiful and fun. Cheers!

Leave a Reply to Peter Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *