Hiking Strawberry Peak
Strawberry Peak is located on the front range of the San Gabriels, with a different few options of how to reach the peak. On our chosen day, a Sunday, we, myself and photographer/climber Morgan Ayres opted for the mountaineering route which includes a class 3 bouldering route as you approach the summit. Right now, with the rains we have been getting in SoCal the creek in Colby Canyon is free flowing and as you start the trail you will cross it multiple times in order to follow the trail to Strawberry Peak.
I have always been a big proponent of recording your track when hiking a new route, and I did so on this day by using All Trails and also my Suunto Traverse watch which tracks elevation, gain, mileage and the direction via recording your trail and compass.
If you’re going to hike the San Gabriels or perhaps anything in the Angeles Forest, I highly recommend you go now and in the spring. I’ve been living in Southern California now for nearly 15 years and I have never seen these areas so lush, so green and a sky so blue after a fresh rain we had had during the week leading up to this day. Even on a Sunday, we only passed 3 groups of people, all heading down and who had mostly just hiked to the saddle, Josephine Saddle. Josephine Saddle is the first major junction you will reach before the trail splits off to the right for Strawberry Peak. There is an old water basin which is to the left and west, while the trail to the peak is right and to the north.
This next part of the trail contains the bouldering routes. If you have never climbed or done significant scrambling, you may find this frightening and difficult. If that is the case, there is no shame in backtracking and taking the longer way, the loop trail to the peak. I have been bouldering for a while now, and did not find it challenging but I am always aware of the danger that of climbing, especially at these elevations. Safety first, always.
We chose to summit at sunset this day, all knowing that we would be taking the trail down in the dark. Many people opt to take the longer route back down, known as the loop which adds mileage, but a safer and easier to follow route down back to the parking lot. We made the trip with lights (headlamps and my BioLite Powerlight Mini) and back up lights to get us back down safely. I also cannot say enough about how recording your track going up, will in fact help you to stay on trail when returning whether its light to dark out. If you do not have a navigational device, I highly recommend downloading the Pro Version of AllTrails which allows you to locate and record your route using GPS which works well after you lose a cell phone signal.
Along the trail not only will you come to these few bouldering routes (I gladly put on a helmet) but you will also have to navigate through thick and sharp brush. I recommend, even in warmer weather to be mindful of protecting your skin by wearing lightweight clothing and layers.
The views from the peak this day were magnificent. And I didn’t expect them to be. We had a clear day with nearly zero clouds going up and we were treated with a multilayered sunset over the city and mountains edge. There is a register at the top, sign your name, take in the views and travel safely down…
All photos by @MorganAyres, Morgan Ayres Photography