Friday, August 5, 2011

San Gabriel Peak, Mt. Markham, Mt. Lowe 7/23/11

If you hike in the LA area, hopefully by now you've heard of Poodle-dog bush. It's that sage-looking plant with really pretty purple flowers growing in burn areas that you wanna just grab and take home to stick in a vase for your partner, but unless your partner's a total prickface, it's probably best to just admire them from afar. There isn't much information on it, but since the Angeles Crest Highway opened in June after the 2009 Station Fire and hikers are starting to explore the affected areas again, we don't have much choice but to start talking.


After our first failed attempt to bag San Gabriel, Markham, and Lowe (we climbed Deception and Disappointment instead), Matt and I returned the following weekend armed with long pants, long sleeves, gloves, and garden shears to make our best attempt to defeat the poodle and summit these bad boys.

San Gabriel and Lowe aren't tough hikes so it was easy enough to clear the overgrown poodle blocking the trail and get to the summits unpoisoned.

There isn't an official trailhead where we started, but it's a turnout just south of Angeles Crest Highway on Mt. Wilson Rd. The trail starts out with about a mile of relatively easy switchbacks, some good views on the way and no poodle to worry about. 

San Gabriel Peak
San Gabriel Mountains high country

Once you meet up with the paved road, you're just a few feet from the saddle/missile launch pad/picnic area.

The road to Disappointment is lined with poodle-dog bush (on your right):

And the trail to San Gabriel, Lowe, and Markham is on the left (also lined with poodles):

Nothing really spectacular about San Gabriel Peak.


Descending the newly de-poodled trail.

Just before you get back to the saddle from San Gabriel Peak, turn left to start the Lowe/Markham trail. The trail to Mt. Lowe is falling apart in places and prone to rock slides, but it's still a fairly easy hike (and now relatively clear of poodle-dog bush) and the view is much more spectacular than San Gabriel Peak. On a clear day (in the Winter), you'd get a pretty amazing view of Los Angeles from Lowe.

This is my town.

Occidental Peak and Mt. Wilson with Mt. Baldy in the background.

From the Lowe/Markham saddle, Markham is a short class 2 (at least) scramble through lots of poodle-dog and very loose rocks. Our hands were busy keeping us alive on this climb so there was no way to clear any poodle, and no way to avoid walking through it. We were also warned of rattlesnake activity on Markham, but didn't see any this time.


Not the hard part.

Eaton Canyon

Bear Canyon

If you're planning on doing Markham while the poodles are still at large, wear long pants and sleeves and try not to let it touch your skin. We had sticky poodle goop all over our clothes and they still smell like sage after two washes, but we haven't noticed any weird blisters from touching the clothes. I was able to get rid of the sticky black residue from the garden shears with some rubbing alcohol.

All pics by Matti.


  1. Damn right it's your town, P.

    And I like your link to prickface. Right on target.


  2. Ew John Mayer. He deserves poodle and a lot more too. Too bad they are so pretty to look at. I wonder how bad your first bout with them was? Nice use of links.

  3. Can your next post be about Crystal Lake?