Mt. Hawkins via Dawson Saddle – Angeles National Forest

**Originally hiked: October 18, 2018**

Trail Data
Mileage: 9.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,100 feet
Location: Angeles National Forest
Type: Out-and-back
Difficulty: Moderate
What to Expect in this Guide

Aside from the road being closed to the trailhead we planned on doing, we ended up doing a tougher hike and a little bit longer.

As those of you know who usually read my posts, I have areas to which you can get a lot of more information about the hike we did.  All in all, I put this area on here so that you can forward over to whichever area you would like to know more about.

  1.  Background – If you’re interested a little more about the area and some facts about the hike.
  2.  Map & Directions – See our hike on the map and directions on how to get to the trailhead below.
  3.  Weather – Definitely something you need to check before you go out on the trail.
  4.  Adventure Pass – Just a quick rundown of what pass you will need before you head out on the trail. *Pass is required to hike in this area.
  5. Trail Camp & Water – The area has a trail camp with a water source nearby.
  6.  Maps, Books and Gear Recommendations A great source for what maps or books to have before going out.
  7.  Hike Stats – I like to know points of interest on the trail, here are some for you to follow along when you go for the hike.
  8.  My Ramblings This is my favorite part mostly because the pictures.  Check this section out of my recollection of the hike and some photos.

Mt. Hawkins sits in the Angeles National Forest (covering around 700,000 acres just outside of Los Angeles).  Much of the trail from Islip Saddle up to Mt. Hawkins (8,850 ft.) is via the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail).  Islip Saddle has a parking lot across the street from the trailhead.

Some nearby notable peaks that can be done in conjunction are Mount Islip, South Mount Hawkins, Middle Hawkins and Throop Peak.  Have any of you done this hike with multiple peaks in the area?  Let me know how in the comments below.

Map & Directions

To get to the trailhead:

Trailhead is at Islip Saddle, mile marker 64.1 on the Angeles Crest Highway.  The drive is about an hour/an hour and a half away from the Los Angeles area.  From downtown LA, take 110 North and merge onto I-5 North.  About 7 miles later, take CA-2 N (Angeles Crest Highway) toward Glendale.  Merge onto CA-2 E/I-210 E.  In .4 miles take CA-2 toward La Canada Flintridge.  Turn left onto Angeles Crest Hwy and drive 39.6 miles until you see a parking lot on the left at Islip Saddle.  The trailhead is directly across the street.


Mt. Hawkins ~8,041 ft –>

Throop Peak ~ 9,138 ft –>

Adventure Pass

There are no permits required to hike this trail.

To park your vehicle in this area, you will however need an Adventure Pass.  To obtain an Adventure pass find the closest Forest Service location or go to any major sporting goods store.  The fees are $5 per day or $30 annual.  If you’d like to know more about the pass, read on the Forest Service Recreation Passes & Permits Website.

The Shell Station right off I-210 and CA-2 exit sells the Adventure Pass.

Trail Camp & Water

Little Jimmy Trail Camp/Little Jimmy Springs

Along this trail the only established trail camp is Little Jimmy Trail Camp.  If you feel like an extra night in the area, Little Jimmy sits just 2 miles off Angeles Crest Highway.  There are 16 established first-come, first-serve sites with fire rings.  The campground includes vault toilets, backcountry ovens and bear boxes.  The place is very popular with Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, the two times I hiked in this area in the fall we passed by a few groups of scouts.

Angeles National Forest: Little Jimmy Trail Camp Information

Little Jimmy Springs is about a .2 miles walk away from the campground.  The water usually runs year round and is super cold.  This is a great spot to take a break quickly and fill up with water if you are running low on a longer hike.  Always make sure you take enough water either way.  We took about 3 liters of water each for 9 mile hike.

Maps, Books and Gear Recommendations
Topographic Map of Area: Trail Map Angeles High Country Map
Book of Hikes in the Area: Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels

Gear Recommendations:

Obviously this isn’t everything I take on our hikes, check out What’s in My Backpack? for a compilation of some of the gear I have now.  Some of the items I would recommend for this hike, especially colder weather:

  1. Hiking Poles: BLACK DIAMOND Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles
  2. Headband: Adidas Woman’s Tech Headband
  3. Fleece Gloves: Columbia Sportswear Women’s Thermarator Glove
  4. Down Jacket: Patagonia Down Sweater
  5. Wind Breaker: REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket
Some food we took on the hike:
  1. Protein: Starkist Salmon Creations Lemon & Dill and Tuna Creations Thai Chili Style
  2. Mayonnaise for our tuna and salmon packets: Hellmann’s Food Real-Vraie Mayonnaise – We bought a pack of 75 so that every time we go we can just pick a couple out from our hiking food bin
  3. Soup: Lipton Soup Secrets – Chicken Noodle Soup Mix with Diced White Chicken Meat
  4. Bars: CLIF Bar Chocolate Chip and Crunchy Peanut Butter
  5. Bananas mmmmm

*FYI the salmon and tuna packets, Lipton soup, CLIF bars are all available at local supermarkets.  I usually just buy on amazon in bulk since we go a lot and have hiking food bin.  What do you keep in your hiking food bin?

Interested in gear and food ideas?  See posts below for more.

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Hike Stats
Trailhead 0 miles 6,800 feet
Little Jimmy Trail Camp 2.1 miles 7,450 feet
Little Jimmy Springs 2.3 miles 7,500 feet
Windy Gap 2.4 miles 7,588 feet
Mt. South Hawkins Turnoff 4.0 miles 8,390 feet
Mt. Hawkins Turnoff 4.6 miles 8,730 feet
Mt. Hawkins Summit 4.8 miles 8,850 feet
My Ramblings

I used to just write this portion of the blog, but decided since I do so much research why not create some guides of the information that I gather before I go out for these hikes.  Should I put my ramblings and photos first or should I keep them here at the end?  You guys let me know.

Alright, let’s move on and talk about this hike.  My sister and I haven’t been on a hike alone in a while; we’ve been with groups, but alone I think our last hike together was Peanut Lake, back in 2016.  Is that right?  I think so.  Either way I was blessed to have a hike together with my sister alone in our backyard mountains up in the San Gabriel’s.

We awoke early and left the house by 6:00am.  We were not much more than 10 minutes into the drive when I had to turn around to pick up the water bladder (Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir – 3 L).  If we were already to far into the drive we would have just picked up 3 L of water at the store nearby.  This wasn’t the only thing we forgot on the hike, just wait for it.

Arriving to the Trailhead

After exiting I-210 road to Angeles Crest highway, I remember I left my annual Adventure Pass in my car back at home.  So another thing I forgot, we stopped at the Shell station to pick a day pass up ($5.00).  As we were driving to go do Mt. Baden-Powell from Dawson Saddle, we arrived at a Road that was closed at Islip Saddle.  Not sure how we could have avoided not knowing, but they do post road closures on the county or forest websites.  Plan B, open my Angeles High Country Trail Map and find a new hike.

There are a few options at Islip Saddle, so we geared up and decided to go hike Mt. Hawkins.  I remember doing it a long time ago by myself, but thought it would be nice to check out the trail again with my sister and it was a little harder hike than we had planned, huge plus there we wanted a good workout.  We started up the trail around 9:00am which would give us ample time to take our time up the mountain and hang out at the top.

The first mile or two was more vertical than the rest of the trail.  We passed a lot of Boys & Girls Scout groups on our way up, probably stayed at Little Jimmy Trail Camp as it’s popular for the Scout groups to camp there on weekends.  Little Jimmy Camp is only about 2 miles up the trail and the trail flattens out on this portion of the hike.  We continued up towards Windy Gap making good time; Windy Gap sits at about 7,588 feet and offers 360 degree views of the surround mountains and valleys.  Here there are a few options, you could turn back, head up to Mt. Islip, head towards Crystal Lake Campground or head on the Mt. Hawkins Ridge Trail to summit Mt. Hawkins or even further to Throop, Burnham and Baden-Powell.

Summiting Mt. Hawkins

Our choice was to hike up to Mt. Hawkins which would make for a 2,050 foot climb total; I liked the sound of that.  11:30am we reached the summit of Mt. Hawkins.  We almost missed the turnoff; stay alert there is no sign for the turnoff to Mt. Hawkins.  I’m glad I was taking note of the mileage on the Garmin.  Did you know Mt. Hawkins is in the 11th highest peak in the San Gabriel’s?  We didn’t make the top 10 list, but that’s ok it’s a peak above 8,000 feet very good training hike for the bigger mountains.  I believe I just made a challenge for myself to knock off the top 10 in the San Gabriel’s.  What those are I’ll probably post later as I already have the 10,000 Feet Peaks in Southern California Challenge ahead of me.

Had to put on some warmer clothes as we were going to hang out on Mt. Hawkins for a little.  We wanted to make some soup and when I opened my bag I realized that I did not pack a fuel canister into my jetboil.  I usually keep one in there but since our last trip to Havasupai Falls we flew, I took it out and never put a new one in when I got back home.  Are you surprised yet?  That’s 3 things and counting so far that were forgotten on this hike.  Instead of a warm Lipton Soup Secrets we ended up having a couple mozzarella sticks and the Starkist Creations Lemon Dill and Thai Chili Style.

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Down we went around 12:30pm so that we could hit the Newcomb’s Ranch for a snack before heading back home.  We didn’t pass too many people on the way down except a couple who was doing one night up at Baden-Powell.  About 1 mile from the trailhead my knee began to hurt, thanks to my sister who brought a brace I made it down in one piece.  It looks like I forgot one other thing, that makes for 4 things we forgot on this hike.  I should be wearing a brace every time I hike anyway so that will be added to my hiking checklist as a permanent item.

Reaching the Cars

It was about 2:30pm when we reached the cars and we changed quickly and headed down the mountain to go grab a quick bite to eat.  Newcomb’s Ranch closes pretty early, so this is the first time I could actually sit inside and have a nice relaxing refreshing drink and a snack.  Usually we get here as they are closing or already closed.  My sister and I love these kinds of places; little gems hidden up in the mountains.  Lots of motorcyclists like to end up here on their rides on the Angeles Crest Highway; we even saw some bicyclists who were brave enough to do that long ride in.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the write-up.  What is the most common thing that you think most hikers (newbies or avid) forget on hikes?  Let me know in the comments below.  If you’ve done this hike before go ahead and comment below and let me know your experiences; I hope we can share more on here together.

Happy Adventures,

Annette – Beyond Limits on Foot



5 thoughts on “Mt. Hawkins via Dawson Saddle – Angeles National Forest

  1. So, am I right you can actually drive up to around 6000 feet to start your hike? That’s amazing! Our highest road in the UK is only up to around 1700 feet. It must be awesome to hike under those almost-guaranteed blue skies you get there – more days than not are hiking in thick cloud here 🙁

    1. Yes, you are right. It is pretty awesome. We actually have a road in California’s Eastern Seirra that goes up to 10,100′ feet (Horseshoe Meadow Road) a rad spot to start some hiking trips because there are a few trailheads there. We are lucky here in So Cal as our mountains go up to 11,000 feet and can be hiked at this time of year too!

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