A short 4 mile loop through the San Gabriel High Country to Winston Ridge and Winston Peak along sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. This route turns a very easily-bagged single peak hike into a moderately strenuous two-peak journey, with expansive views of the interior San Gabriels and Antelope Valley.
On an early Thursday morning, I joined up with a group of the Sierra Club’s Hundred Peaks Section and drove deep into the Angeles National Forest. As a member of the HPS, one of the goals is to summit 100 Californian peaks over 5000 feet. They range in difficulty from short drive-ups to full-scale backpacking routes. The group on this trip was attempting to combine four short treks into a combined trip that would make the drive worthwhile.
We started at Cloudburst Summit, just a few miles from the end of the (currently drivable section of the) Angeles Crest Highway, parked at a small dirt lot, got out and stretched our legs.
Winter does tend to linger late into the season here – and the region has a history of dangerous snow conditions. In fact, the ridge is named for Pasadena businessman L.C. “Lid” Winston, who set out into the San Gabriels on a hunting trip in 1893. He never returned. When the snow began to melt, his body was found on this ridge. Eventually the ridge and the peak were named in his memory.
After about a mile on the road, you’ll reach a crossing with the Pacific Crest Trail. Turn left here and continue over a small series of bumps, making sure to take in the great views of the surrounding forest while you’re walking.
The hike leaders said there were two options to deal with 6903 — over it or around it. There is no established trail going over the mountain, but there are two unmarked use trails that travel around the base. If you’re facing the bump, stick to the left — it’s more traveled and better maintained — but I still found it surprisingly rugged and with some nice drop-offs to the side.
Although, by far, this loop trail is not especially difficult, while climbing Winston Peak from this direction, you will ascend 720 feet in .6 miles. In addition to the 20% grade, you’re also about at the elevation where people who aren’t used to thin air are going to be huffing and puffing — so even if you’re in good shape, this part may take you a bit longer than you’re used to.
But hey, no one gets into hiking because it’s easy, right?
Faint. The fire road and PCT are well marked and maintained, but the other routes are not, and also aren't marked on most topo maps. If you're going in alone on this one, be sure to study these maps carefully.
Nearby Buckhorn Campground is the closest available developed camp site. It is first-come, first-served and closed during the winter months. Hike-in Cooper Canyon Trail Camp is also nearby, just a bit farther east on the PCT.
From the 210, take the La Canada Flintridge exit on the Angeles Crest Highway. Continue 32.7 miles to Cloudburst Summit and park.
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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