Steeped in history and privy to sweeping views over Los Angeles, this hike earns high marks. Echo Mountain itself is the site of the ruins of the Echo Mountain House, and the remnants of it enhance the already excellent hike.
Built by Thaddeus Lowe in the 1800’s, there were no roads or paths up to the hotel save for a twisted series of incline railways—The Mt. Lowe Railway—that once climbed over 1,000 feet, transporting tourists to the famous lodging. In the mid 1900’s, a massive fire razed the building, leaving nothing save for few remnants of the grandeur of the hotel and the railway. Railway mechanisms and foundations of old buildings still scar the summit’s landscape.
Soon after its destruction, Sam Merrill began work to build and maintain a hiking trail to the ruins in an effort to honor the work of John Muir who Merrill met in his younger years. This hike—moderate in both gradient and length—is to this day extremely popular, and very well traveled. Be prepared for heavy traffic on the weekends. Insider tip: sunrise can be spectacular from the summit.