echo mountain hiking

Sam Merrill Trail to Echo Mountain

By Heather

The last time I saw my friend Eric, we realized we had similar hiking styles – go fast, few breaks, little talking. When he said he would be visiting recently, I naturally suggested we go hiking and he agreed.

Echo Mountain seemed perfect – not too long, not too short and some fun historical sights at the end of the trail.

We found out about the hike on Dan’s Hiking Pages, and followed his instructions. Can’t go wrong with Dan!

mt lowe railway echomountain

It was a late start for us – we hit the trail around 11 a.m. and it was already hot. I had 4 liters of water in my bag, though, chilled and ready to drink.

Good thing, because not only was it hot, this is not a shady trail. It’s kind of dry and scrubby, too, thanks to the drought. And despite our generally held opinion that breaks are for suckers, we took a lot of them to drink fluids.

echo mountain mt lowe railway

Despite all that, it’s a beautiful hike – panoramic views of Los Angeles the whole way. The day we went was so clear we could see Catalina, Glendale, Burbank and some other city that I joked must be San Francisco.

When you get to the top, there are ruins galore… of the old Mt. Lowe Railway tracks, the foundation of the Echo Mountain House, including the old swimming pool and tennis courts. It’s so much fun to explore!

After you hit Echo Mountain, you have the option of continuing on to Inspiration Point. Given the heat, we passed on that.

Although the hike is short, maybe it’s just me, or the heat, I don’t know, but the trail felt like it went forever. Like we were never going to get there, like were making no progress at all. We both felt that way. There’s no summit to watch, no summit to see yourself approaching.

echo mountain hiking friends

Next time, I’ll be mentally prepared for that frustrating sensation!

This hike was definitely a lesson in how hot it can get out there, and how thirsty a hike on a hot day like that can make you. By the time we got back to my car, I had just about finished every last drop of water and PowerAde I brought.

Think I’ll be taking the combination of heat and no shade much more seriously next time, especially at the lower elevations!