Distance (round-trip)

6 mi

Time

3 hrs

Elevation Gain

1219 ft

Season

Spring
Summer
Fall

Weather

A just over 6 mile out-and-back trail to two prominent peaks to the west of Mount Baden-Powell. With a stretch of spectacularly-designed trail, lots of shade, and phenomenal scenery with not a whole lot of elevation gain, this is a great way to introduce yourself to this area of the San Gabriels and plot out future trips. If you want to spend more time here, there are plenty of connecting trails to other nearby peaks and canyons.

Throop Peak (pronounced “Troop”) lies along a ridge just south of a large bend in the Angeles Crest Highway, to the west of Mount Baden-Powell. I wanted to explore more of this newly-opened area of the Angeles National Forest, but didn’t want to drive all the way out there for a single short trail, so decided to add nearby Mount Hawkins to the trip.

The parking area is very easy to find. Dawson’s Saddle is clearly marked with a large, visible sign on the road. If you happen to miss that, you’ll most likely see the cars parked on the north side. This is your cue to join them. Park, suit up, hang your Adventure Pass, then cross the street to the south side and walk a few hundred feet to the east, where you’ll see this:

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 1

Start climbing up these switchbacks, and you’re on your way. And don’t get scared! Unlike nearby Mount Baden-Powell, this trail makes very minimal use of the switchback. You’ll really only encounter them in this first 0.3 miles of trail – and only the very first one is exposed like this.

There has been a bit of confusion as to where, exactly, the trailhead is – there is a shed just as the Angeles Crest Highway makes an eastward turn that has a small parking area. There is a series of very steep switchbacks directly across the street from that parking area, but the easier and more official trailhead is just a few hundred feet to the east, near where the road turns south again and a much larger parking area on the north side of the road.

This is the Dawson Saddle Trail, built by Boy Scout volunteers in 1982, and I’ve really got to hand it to them – they built a fine stretch of trail. The elevation gain is almost unnoticeable, and after you get that first small barren switchback out of the way, the trail meanders through some beautiful stretches of pine forest. It’s one of the nicest trails I’ve hiked in a long time.

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 4

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 6

The first 1.1 miles of the trail walk through this heavily shaded area, but then reaches a long, very gentle incline along Throop Peak’s north ridge. There are a few use-trails here that leave the established trail and meet up again later, but they seemed to add elevation and not save a whole lot of distance. Hopefully, you’ll be digging the Boy Scouts’ work as much as I did that you’ll just want to stick on the main trail anyway, using the clearings along the ridge to take in your first expansive views of the Devil’s Punchbowl and Antelope Valley to the northwest.

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 9

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 12

The trail continues in a generally southern direction until about the 1.7 mile mark, where it makes a sharp turn toward the east. You’ll probably think you missed a turn somewhere, as it will seem like you’re now hiking away from the peak, but don’t worry – you’re still on the right track. The trail here hooks around to the ridge on the northeast side of Throop Peak, where it meets with the Pacific Crest Trail at about the 2 mile mark. Enjoy the views of the west side of Mount Baden-Powell, and the still fairly-thick pine groves.

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 15

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 14

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 20

At the 2 mile mark, turn right to head south on the Pacific Crest Trail, moving away from Mount Baden-Powell. The trail to the summit of Throop Peak splits off less than a hundred feet on the PCT. It’s a small fork in the trail, which may be marked by a cairn. Veer to the right to head on the Throop Peak Use Trail.

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 21

This trail is not nearly as well-kept as the Dawson Saddle Trail, and you’ll notice the path overgrown in several places. While this route may become faint in places, you’re usually able to see the trail amid the plants. Follow the ridge and make a few more switchbacks, and you’ll be approaching the summit in 0.3 miles. You’ll spot the tree-less summit in no time.

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 23

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 26

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 27

When I hiked in, all of the plants near the summit were blooming, and the air was thick with buzzing bees and insects. But I guess they were too busy with their pollen-gathering to notice me, since nothing bothered me at all. I was able to sit down near the plaque honoring Amos Throop and soak in the views of neighboring Baden-Powell and Baldy, as well as see some of the lingering evidence of the devastating 2002 Curve Fire, which badly damaged the area. You’ll get a closer-view of the effects of wildfires in a bit.

When you’re done at the summit, head in a southwestern direction, down a steep but navigable ridge. You’ll see the longer ridge-line of the Hawkins Mountains right in front of you.

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 28

Just keep heading to the southwest. The trail will go missing in a few hundred feet, but if you generally follow the ridge you’ll be ok. Keep looking south, and you’ll be able to make out the Pacific Crest Trail going east-to-west just below you. Keep on the ridge until it gets too steep or you get close enough to the PCT, then hop on.

Here, you’ll see some effects of the Curve Fire more up-close-and-personal. Countless trees are still charred and dead, but most of the grasses and small brush has bounced back.

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 31

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 33

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 34

At about the 2.9 mile mark, the Pacific Crest Trail descends on the west side of the Hawkins Ridge, while the unmarked Hawkins Trail continues on the ridge top, heading south. Keep right to stay on the Hawkins Trail, which hops over a few more small bumps on the last 0.1 miles to the summit.

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 41

From the small, rocky summit of Mount Hawkins, you’ll have outstanding views of the surrounding areas – including the canyons of the South and Iron Forks of the San Gabriel River, as well as Mount Baldy to the east and the Hawkins Ridge to the south, where Middle Hawkins, Sadie Hawkins and South Mount Hawkins – former site of an historic fire tower – can be seen.

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 47

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 50

… and if you’re extremely lucky, this little cairn-man will be pointing you directly at the summit of Mount Hawkins:

Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins 46

When you’re ready to head back, rejoin the Pacific Crest Trail and take it back around Throop Peak to the Dawson Saddle Trail, or, if you’re feeling like more off-trail climbing, head back to the top of Throop Peak and follow the northern ridge back to the Dawson Saddle Trail.

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





Historical Interest

Shade

Views / Vista

Trail Map

23 Comments

Casey Schreiner Apr 27, 2018 10:04In reply to: [email protected]

CA-39 does NOT connect to the Angeles Crest Highway ... but, if you wanted to hit this peak, you could also reach it from the trailheads at Crystal Lake! You can follow the route we describe to South Mount Hawkins and then just keep on heading east on the PCT to Hawkins and Throop. It'll be a longer hike, definitely, but a shorter drive! :)

Leave a Reply to Casey Schreiner Cancel reply

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

[email protected] Apr 27, 2018 09:04

Hi Casey,

I live in Azusa by the 39 highway and am planning to do this hike Saturday morning. This hike sounds great! Do you know if I can get to the trailhead from the 39 or have to go around via Wrightwood?

Thank you and appreciate the help.

Leave a Reply to [email protected] Cancel reply

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

David May 28, 2017 07:05

This is a great hike and I took my 8 year old son. I strongly recommend only beginning at the "more offical" eastern trail as suggested in the write up. As RJM60 stated there are very steep and eroded sections that are just not safe on the other trail which does connect to Dawson Saddle trail.

Leave a Reply to David Cancel reply

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

RJM60 Aug 30, 2016 02:08

Finally got to do this hike this past Sunday 28 June 2016. Between getting a late start (around 2 pm) and just being slow uphill, I decided to only do Throop. When I arrived, I parked directly acroos from the trailhead. There were 9 other cars and I met 17 other hikers on the trails, which are all in great shape.

This time, I made it all the way to the peak. After resting a bit and having a sandwich, I decided to check out the use trail down the north ridge for trip down.

The trail was extremely easy to follow and showed signs of heavy use. It appeared to be maintained in some spots as there were some cut trees and rock borders. It joined the main trail exactly where I thought it would (just downhill of the left turn going up the main trail). I definately recommend going down this trail rather than up since there were some long runs of really loose dirt and because it's steep. I also recommend trekking poles. Thst said, if you're looking for a real challenge, you could try going up this route. It will cut about 1/4 mile off the trip (each way) but it is pretty steep thr entire way.

My downhill pace was double my uphill and I got backbto my car quickly. Only 1 car besides mine remained. I assumed it belonged to Garret and Tim who I passed on the way down. They were going to camp out on the peak (Throop) for the night to check out the backpacking geaf they werd putting together for longer trips.

It was a fun day. Dawson Saddle trail is popular once again now that the Crest Highway has reopened.

Leave a Reply to RJM60 Cancel reply

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

Casey Schreiner Jun 27, 2016 17:06In reply to: RJM60 _

Good on ya! Summit fever affects us all ... but if you're feeling the effects of altitude it's always best to descend and try again another day. That peak isn't going anywhere soon! Good luck on your next attempt!

Leave a Reply to Casey Schreiner Cancel reply

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

RJM60 _ Jun 27, 2016 12:06In reply to: RJM60

Well I didn't try this hike until Wednesday, 6/1. I started on the "real trail" (the one with a sign) and got about 1.5 miles up the ridge when I started feeling ill. I rested a while then decided to turn around and try again another time. Weather was perfect but I wasn't up to the task. On the way down, I decided to try the "false trail" and met someone coming up. He didn't know it wasn't the real trail.

Leave a Reply to RJM60 _ Cancel reply

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

heidi Jun 25, 2016 23:06

Did this hike today - still a bit smokey from recent fires, but overall very enjoyable. Accidentally started on the "wrong" trailhead (trust me - start on the eastern entrance - there is no post in front of it) - it was fairly ragged in places, completely washed out in a few places, made me nervous about stability (I obviously missed some prior comments!). The trail to Throop Peak is not marked - make sure you map out your route ahead of time. The "off-tail" route towards Hawkins - there were plenty of moments where I was left thinking "am I going the right way?" "did I tell people where I am going today?" But, the return on the actual PCT was very clear. Just wish this portion was a bit better maintained, but luckily I had the gpx file and was able to follow along.

Leave a Reply to heidi Cancel reply

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

RJM60 May 30, 2016 01:05

Angeles Crest Highway opened today from Islip Saddle to Vincent Gap. Will do this hike Tueday.

Leave a Reply to RJM60 Cancel reply

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

Casey Schreiner Nov 23, 2015 22:11In reply to: Ryan

The 2 is closed at Islip Saddle to 5 miles west of Big Pines. You can always check closures on the 2 at http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi

Leave a Reply to Casey Schreiner Cancel reply

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

Ryan Nov 23, 2015 22:11

Is it possible to get to Dawson's Saddle trailhead by car right now? Looks pretty close to the closed portion of the Angels Crest Hwy. and Google maps seems to think I need to walk a long ways.
Not gunna risk the long drive around Angeles. ANYONE KNOW THEN ANSWER?

Leave a Reply to Ryan Cancel reply

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

Rachael Jul 4, 2015 01:07

Just wanted to say that this writeup (and website) is such an excellent resource--can't tell you how much we appreciate it!

I want to echo what Michael Fox said in his May comment: do not take the switchback across from the shed! Head a little further down the road away from the shed and you'll find the real trail. Much safer to ascend from there.

In mid-April I hiked a portion of this trail with my sister and we truly enjoyed it. Absolutely gorgeous views, lots of places where the trail widens up into areas you can wander around in. There was still snow on the mountain and at one point it made the trail a bit too risky for our tastes so we headed back. On June 28 I hiked a smaller portion with my boyfriend and we had such an excellent time. One of the first places the trail opens up, there's a big fallen log atop a lengthy ridge. When we arrived we saw a doe resting nearby. We ate lunch by the log and hung out and enjoyed the views, and she relaxed near us within eyesight the entire time we were there. It was such a treat!

So looking forward to a chance to hike the entire thing!

Leave a Reply to Rachael Cancel reply

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

Michael Fox May 11, 2015 12:05

Did this hike with my wife yesterday. It was her first peak and man what a nice climb it was. Beautiful weather and some stunning views.

WARNING: There are two sets of exposed switchbacks that both meet up eventually and start the real climb towards Throop Peak. The real trail head is not marked and doesn't look like much but is 500 some odd feet down the road from the Dawson Saddle sign and the work shed. There will be a big sign about a switchback or two into the trail, look for this and know you're on the right trail.

There is a switchback directly across from the shed, these ARE NOT the real trail. This switchback actually looks like a more established trail but degrades fast. I made this mistake with my beginner wife and it was bad. The trail is super thin, washed out, and has several slide areas where the ground was very unstable. I highly recommend that you do not take this path if you've never climbed before. Its very dangerous with a 100-150 foot drop to the highway below. If you do take it, you will eventually hit the real trail, hook left to head towards the peaks.

Leave a Reply to Michael Fox Cancel reply

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

Lydia May 4, 2015 10:05

Just did this hike on Saturday. The hike was so beautiful and your write up really helped us navigate! There are a few fallen trees blocking the trail near Mount Hawkins (we just climbed over them). Cairn-man was not around though which was a little bit of a bummer (he looks so cute in your photo) Lovely hike!

Leave a Reply to Lydia Cancel reply

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

Jason Johnson Jul 20, 2014 07:07

Casey, just hiked this yesterday. It was fantastic! Thank you for the detailed update - we really enjoyed it.

Leave a Reply to Jason Johnson Cancel reply

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

Casey Schreiner Jul 16, 2014 17:07In reply to: Leila

Ah, bummer! I was sure that area had escaped the fires - it looked in decent shape when I was hiking a nearby trail earlier this year.

Thanks for the update, though!

Leave a Reply to Casey Schreiner Cancel reply

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

Leila Jul 16, 2014 16:07

I tried to hike this got about a half a mile in and the trail had land slid away. As I had my 8 year old with me we turned around.

Leave a Reply to Leila Cancel reply

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

Jeremiah Jan 28, 2013 19:01

Hi, I was looking at this page but noticed all the images are missing, each has a message from Flickr saying the image is unavailable. I could see images on the other pages though. Maybe they got deleted from Flickr?

Leave a Reply to Jeremiah Cancel reply

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

jbuxe May 5, 2012 17:05

So, I know this is a long shot...but I got home to Culver City today (almost a 2 hour drive) and realized that I left my hiking poles at the parking area. I'm SOOOOO bummed. If you find them, can you please contact me?

Details: Dawson's Saddle parking area
Descriptions: 2 black composite telescoping poles, with brown cork handles and wrist straps
When: May 5, 4pm

please, please, please help! [email protected] gmail.com

Leave a Reply to jbuxe Cancel reply

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

Throop Peak | Nobody Hikes in L.A. Aug 1, 2011 20:08

[...] More information: here; here [...]

Leave a Reply to Throop Peak | Nobody Hikes in L.A. Cancel reply

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

Sara Jul 29, 2011 03:07

The fire department was removed from a nearby mountain several years ago.

Leave a Reply to Sara Cancel reply

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

Hiking for Hope Oct 18, 2009 13:10

We ended up not being able to go that weekend due to lightning strikes and fires. Of course, the Station fire happened right after THAT, so we haven't been able to play in the San Gabriels since we did a moonlight hike up Burnham. For that hike, we camped just below the summit, in a patch of dirt amongst the brush.

Who knows when I'll get to take my son on this hike now?!

Leave a Reply to Hiking for Hope Cancel reply

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

Brently Oct 16, 2009 11:10

"Hiking for Hope August 21, 2009 at 2:03 am

Thank you very much for the excellent trail report! I am planning on taking my son up there to spend the night."

Where did you camp? It sounds like a great overnighter.

Leave a Reply to Brently Cancel reply

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

Hiking for Hope Aug 21, 2009 02:08

Thank you very much for the excellent trail report! I am planning on taking my son up there to spend the night.

Leave a Reply to Hiking for Hope 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 *