City Hiking Guides

Best Hiking Trails in and Around Pasadena

POSTED ON January 4, 2023 BY Ralph S.


Introduction

Southern California is known for its beautiful landscapes and stunning views, and Pasadena hiking trails are no exception.

Pasadena is a small city that’s not only famous for its annual Tournament of Roses Parade but also for the beautiful trails in and around the area.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting out, there’s no shortage of trails to explore in Pasadena. And, if you’re up for a longer adventure, the Catalina island trails offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. So why not extend your trip and explore all that Pasadena and its surrounding areas have to offer?

Here, we’ll highlight some of the best trails that you can explore in Pasadena, making sure you have the best time of your life while discovering the beauty of nature. But don’t forget to purchase an adventure pass before heading out.

Eaton Canyon Trail

Eaton Canyon Trail

Location: Pasadena, California

Distance: 3.5 miles (5.6 km)

Duration: Approximately 2 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Type: Out and back

Another popular hiking destination in Pasadena is Eaton Canyon Regional Park, where visitors can choose from various easy and more difficult trails with different levels of difficulty.

Nestled at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, this trail is a popular hiking spot for locals, tourists, and the whole family alike. Located in the Angeles National Forest, this 3.5-mile (5.6 km) trail is a moderately challenging hike that offers stunning views of the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains.

The trailhead is easily accessible from Pasadena and provides an ample parking lot for hikers. The trail itself features a variety of landscapes, including lush greenery, rocky terrain, and a picturesque waterfall at the end.

The hike begins with a gradual incline but quickly levels out and becomes more challenging as you approach the waterfall. Along the way, hikers can spot various wildlife such as rabbits, deer, and birds.

Eaton Canyon Falls via Eaton Canyon Trailhead

Eaton Canyon Falls Trail, Altadena, CA, USA

Location: Pasadena, California

Distance: 2.1 miles (3.3 km) One Way

Duration: Approximately 1–1.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Type: Out and back

For those looking for a shorter and more challenging hike, this is a great option (direction). This out-and-back trail is 2.1 miles (3.3 km) long and offers breathtaking views of the waterfall as well as the surrounding mountains.

The hike begins at Eaton Canyon Nature Center and follows the same route as the Eaton Canyon Trail until you reach Eaton Canyon Falls, a 40-foot (12-meter) waterfall that is simply breathtaking. The trail then continues along a narrow path that can be quite steep and slippery, so caution is advised.

At the end of the trail, hikers are rewarded with a stunning 40-foot (12-meter) waterfall that flows year-round. The mist from the falls is refreshing on a hot day and adds to the overall experience of this beautiful hike.

Note: Stop by the ranger station before starting your hike for important safety tips and trail information. The Eaton Canyon Nature Center is also a great place for visitors to learn about the natural history and wildlife of the area. The center offers guided hikes, educational programs, and interactive exhibits.

Hon. John C. Crowley Trail

Location: Pasadena, California

Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)

Duration: Approximately 2 hours

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Type: Loop

The Hon. John C. Crowley Trail is a hidden gem for hikers looking for a peaceful and scenic trail in Pasadena, California. This 4-mile (6.4 km) loop trail offers a relatively easy hike with a stunning city view and surrounding mountains.

The trailhead is located around the Rose Bowl area with a convenient parking lot, making it easily accessible for hikers. The hike itself features a mix of dirt paths and paved road, making it suitable for all levels of hikers. Along the way, hikers can enjoy beautiful wildflowers, views of the San Gabriel Mountains, and even a small waterfall. The trail also offers benches for hikers to take in the scenery and rest along the way.

The Hon. John C. Crowley Trail is perfect for those looking for a shorter, less challenging hike without sacrificing beautiful views and nature. It is also a popular spot for dog walkers looking for a scenic hike.

Other Trails Near Pasadena

If you’ve already explored the trails in Pasadena and are looking for more, you’re in luck. There are several other trails near Pasadena that offer equally stunning views and challenging hikes. From nearby national forests to historical sites, these trails have something for every type of hiker.

So grab your boots and get ready to explore some of the best hiking spots near Pasadena.

Castle Canyon Trail

Location: Altadena, California

Distance: Approximately 2 miles (3 km)

Duration: 1-2 hours

Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous

Type: Out and back

This is a short but popular hiking destination for locals and tourists alike due to its proximity to Altadena and the beautiful scenery it offers. The trail starts near the Inspiration Point Interpretive Site and ends at the Mt. Lowe Railway Trail junction (Direction).

This 3-kilometer (2-mile) out-and-back trail takes about 1-2 hours to complete and is rated moderate to strenuous. It is a perfect option for those looking for a bit of a challenge.

However, make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as there is little shade on the trail. The trail can also get quite busy, so be prepared to encounter other hikers and even some mountain bikers along the way.

Echo Mountain via Sam Merrill Trail

Location: Altadena, California

Distance: 3.2 miles (5 km)

Duration: 2–2.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous

Type: Out and back

This is a popular trail located in the foothills of Altadena, California. This 3.2-mile (5 km) out-and-back trail features the recently restored Echo Mountain Trail. Apart from the 22 interpretative signs explaining the area’s rich history, this trail offers stunning views of the San Gabriel peak, the Los Angeles basin, and the city below, about a mile into the hike.

The hike starts off near the Cobb Estate, a historic mansion that is now a popular spot for hikers to park their cars. From there, you’ll make your way up towards Echo Mountain, passing by the ruins of an old railway and a site from the former Mount Lowe Railway.

As you make your way up the trail, you’ll encounter some steep inclines and rocky terrain, making it a challenging but rewarding hike. Along the way, don’t forget to take in the breathtaking views of Los Angeles and the surrounding area. This moderate to strenuous hike takes about 4 hours to complete and is suitable for experienced hikers or those looking for a bit more of a challenge.

Inspiration Point via Sam Merrill Trail and Castle Canyon Trail

Location: Altadena, California

Distance: Approximately 10 miles (16 km)

Duration: 7-9 hours

Difficulty: Strenuous

Type: Loop

This is a scenic loop trail located in the foothills of Altadena, California, with a challenging elevation gain. A 10-mile (16 km) hike that combines two popular trails, the Sam Merrill Trail and Castle Canyon Trail (Direction), offers breathtaking views and a challenging yet rewarding experience.

The hike starts off at Cobb Estate and follows the steep incline of the Sam Merrill Trail for about 4.5 miles (7 km) before reaching Inspiration Point. Here, hikers can take a break and enjoy the stunning views of the Chantry Flats near the San Gabriel Mountains and the city below. The trail then continues, offering a more moderate incline and taking hikers through lush greenery and picturesque landscapes. Along the way, you’ll pass by an old railway tunnel before making your way back to Cobb Estate.

This strenuous hike takes about 7-9 hours to complete, depending on your pace, and is mostly recommended for experienced hikers or those looking for a challenging but rewarding trek.

Don’t miss the stunning views of Brown Mountain Dam while hiking, and make sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks, as there are few places to refill or rest along the trail.

Gabrielino Trail via Echo Rock Trail, Sturtevant Trail, and Rim Trail

Location: Angeles National Forest, Altadena, California (Direction)

Distance: Varies (up to 9 miles/14.4 km)

Duration: Approximately 6-7 hours

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Type: Point to point or out and back loop

Gabrielino Trail via Echo Rock Trail, Sturtevant Trail, and Rim Trail is an advanced hiking trail that offers a challenging and scenic adventure for experienced hikers. The trail features rocky terrain, steep inclines, and multiple water crossings.

The hike itself is moderate to difficult, with steep inclines and varying terrain. Along the way, hikers will pass through beautiful forests, over streams, and alongside rugged mountainsides. The trail also winds through historic sites, such as the ruins of an old resort and a Native American village with picturesque views of Sturtevant Falls.

The hike begins at the foothills of Pasadena, intersecting with the Sturtevant Trail before reaching Mount Wilson and following the Rim Trail, looping back to Newcomb Pass. Hikers will pass through various landscapes, including lush forests, rocky canyons, and historic sites.

Hikers can also make a detour to visit Echo Rock, where they can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the city below.

Note: This hike is only recommended for experienced hikers and requires proper planning and preparation. In addition, hikers should bring plenty of water, snacks, and appropriate hiking gear. You can check out our guide on what to bring on a single-day hike.

Altadena Crest Trail

Location: Altadena, California

Distance: 4.1 miles (6.5 km)

Duration: Approximately 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Type: Point to point

Experience the natural beauty of La Cañada while trekking on this pet-friendly Altadena Crest Trail. Located in the foothills of Altadena, California, this is a popular hiking spot for locals and visitors alike. This 4.1-mile (6.5 km) point-to-point trail offers a moderate hike with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

The trail begins at the Rubio Canyon Trailhead and winds through lush greenery, rocky terrain, and scenic overlooks. As hikers make their way along the trail, they’ll encounter steep inclines and narrow pathways, making for an exciting and challenging hike. Along the way, hikers can also spot various wildlife, such as deer, rabbits, and birds.

The trail ends at Echo Mountain, where hikers can enjoy panoramic views of Los Angeles and the Descanso gardens before heading back down the mountain.

El Prieto Canyon Trail

Angeles National Forest

Location: Altadena, California

Distance: 5.8 miles (9 km)

Duration: Approximately 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous

Type: Loop

The El Prieto Canyon Trail is a popular hiking destination located in Altadena, California. This 5.8-mile (9 km) loop trail offers stunning views of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Angeles National Forest.

The trail starts off at N. Arroyo Blvd, with a descent into El Prieto Canyon (location). Hikers will be surrounded by lush greenery and can enjoy the peaceful sounds of a nearby creek. The trail winds through lush greenery, offering a mix of shaded areas and open spaces, before culminating at the Fern Truck Trail. Along the way, hikers can spot various wildlife, such as deer, rabbits, and birds.

As you make your way up the canyon, be prepared for some steep inclines and rocky terrain. However, the rewarding views and peaceful surroundings make it worth the effort. Finally, the trail also features an optional detour to a small waterfall for those looking for a quick cool-off before heading back.

Conclusion

If you’re a hiker, trail runner, through-hiker, or backpacker, the Pasadena hiking trails offer an excellent opportunity for weekend outdoor activities. These Pasadena trails are not only a great way to explore the beauty of nature, but also a great way to get active and exercise. However, you can head north towards the shallow pool along the beautiful streams of Cherry Canyon Park trails for a memorable adventure in the great outdoors.

We hope that this post has inspired you to lace up your boots and hit the trails around Pasadena.

For more fun destinations like this, check out our Hikes & Trails Archive.


RALPH S.

Ralph S. is the founder of Silverlight, an avid hiker and trail runner he enjoys spending time outdoors, riding his motorcycle and swimming at the beach when he's not busy replying to customers or developing new Silverlight gear.

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