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    Difficulty
    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    Hard
    Elevation
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    840 m
    Distance
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    15.8 km
    Duration
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    5-7h
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
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    Directions to Trailhead

    Inspiration Point via Sam Merrill and Castle Canyon Loop

    Measurement:

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    Table of contents

    Hiking to Inspiration Point via Sam Merrill and Castle Canyon Loop is a beautifully scenic, albeit challenging, adventure that will expose the history and natural beauty of Angeles National Forest. While out on the trail, you will traverse the mountain landscape north of Altadena, passing by the ruins of the Mount Lowe Observatory before arriving at Inspiration Point for some incredible views. Make sure that you have an adventure pass visible in your vehicle prior to setting out on this hike.

    Route Description for Inspiration Point via Sam Merrill and Castle Canyon Loop

    As the Inspiration Point via Sam Merrill and Castle Canyon Loop hike passes points of historical interest and features some wonderfully scenic views, it is a popular route that regularly sees higher volumes of foot traffic. Be sure to arrive early to secure parking and beat the crowds up to the viewpoint. Additionally, this is a fairly rugged trail in certain areas, so make sure to wear proper footwear and bring plenty of water/snacks to stay fueled while on your hike.

    If this trail is a popular one it is certainly for good reason, as hikers will experience incredible views that stretch across the picturesque California landscape. Add in some interesting historical sites like the ruins of the Mount Lowe Observatory and the remains of the Echo Mountain House luxury resort, and you have all the making for an engaging day out on the trails of the Angeles National Forest.

    Setting out from the trailhead, you will make your way east through the Cobb Estate, before crossing over the banks of Los Flores Creek. Here you will turn your direction to the northeast, climbing uphill across the hillside to reach a junction in 1.7 km.

    Turning left along the path, you will follow the Lower Sam Merrill Trail north for another 1.8 km, before making a sharp turn south towards Echo Mountain. Just before reaching the top, you will turn left along the Middle Sam Merrill Trail, following it past the ruins of the Mount Lowe Observatory and uphill through some rugged terrain.

    Keeping right along this path for the next 3.9 km, your direction will eventually turn east and you will arrive at the edge of a fire road. Turning right onto the road, you will quickly arrive at Inspiration Point, where you will be able to rest and soak up the beautifully scenic California views that extend across the undulating landscape.

    After you’ve finished taking in the views, you will follow the Castle Canyon Trail as it leads to the southwest and descends some rugged terrain to arrive back near the ruins of the Mount Lowe Observatory and Echo Mountain House. From here, you can retrace the initial leg of your hike along the Lower Sam Merrill Trail, following it back downhill to Cobb Estate and the trailhead where you began your excursion.

    Ruins of Echo Mountain House

    Echo Mountain House was a luxury resort that opened in 1894 along the newly built Mount Lowe Railway and served wealthy tourists looking to explore the San Gabriel Mountains. It contained 80 rooms, a dance hall, casino, astronomical observatory, and even a zoo. Several setbacks eventually led to its closure, including two fires and the government realization that the railway was built on Federal lands. The ruins can still be seen by hikers passing through the area.

    Insider Hints for Inspiration Point via Sam Merrill and Castle Canyon Loop

    • Arrive early to secure parking and beat the crowds
    • Wear proper hiking footwear
    • Keep your dog on a leash at all times

    Getting to the Inspiration Point via Sam Merrill and Castle Canyon Loop Trailhead

    The trailhead for this hike can be found near the Cobb Estate at the corner of E Loma Alta Drive and N Lake Avenue.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground:

      No

    • When to do:

      Year-Round

    • Pets allowed:

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly:

      No

    • Route Signage:

      Average

    • Crowd Levels:

      Moderate

    • Route Type:

      Lollipop

    Inspiration Point via Sam Merrill and Castle Canyon Loop Elevation Graph

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