Hiking Mt. Islip (San Gabriel Mountains)

The hike to Mt. Islip is one of the must do peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains. Mt. Islip is located in the Angeles National Forest. Mt. Islip stands at 8,250 feet in elevation and is one of the notable peaks in the High San Gabriel's. From Mt. Islip's 8,250 foot summit, the hiker is rewarded with an awesome panoramic view in all directions. The United States Forest Service recognized the tremendous views on Mt. Islip, as they built a fire lookout on Mt. Islip's summit in 1927, whose footing is still present today. When we did this hike it was during the late fall and there was already snow above the 6,000 foot level. For more pictures make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: The parking area of the Mt. Islip trailhead is located at the Islip Saddle. From the 210 in La Canada Flintridge take the Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) roughly 40 miles to the Islip Saddle. You will need to display a Forest Adventure Pass to park here. Alternately you can also come up from the Wrightwood side of the Angeles Crest Highway. There is a good amount of parking at the Islip Saddle. Vaulted Restrooms are available here. This is a popular area and during most of the year you will find cars parked here at this trailhead. The trail, for the hike to Mt. Islip, is across the street from the parking area by the entrance to the parking area. If you are driving here during the winter time make sure to check the weather and road conditions. The Angeles Crest Highway is known to shut down during bad weather and you might need chains during the winter months. A Forest Adventure Pass is required to park at the trailhead.

Description of Hike: The hike to the summit of Mt. Islip is roughly 7 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 1,590 feet. The trail is well maintained as it is a popular trail because much of the hike you are utilizing the Pacific Crest Trail. You are rewarded with great views of the high dessert the majority of the way up the trail to Mt. Islip and even better views once you get close to the summit of Mt. Islip. The majority of the hike to the summit of Mt. Islip is along the Pacific Crest Trail. You are going to follow the pacific crest trail all the way through Little Jimmy Campground. You also have an alternate option at about a mile from the trailhead. At this point the Pacific Crest Trail crosses a dirt service road that also goes to Little Jimmy Campground. The Pacific Crest Trail is a more scenic option to take to Little Jimmy Campground. The only time the trail is a little difficult to follow is when you go through the campground. Once you find the trail on the other side of the campground you continue on the Pacific Crest Trail and then split off onto the Mt. Islip Trail. All trail splits are usually well marked and easy to follow. From this junction you have just under a mile to the top of Mt. Islip where you are rewarded with amazing vistas. Return to the trailhead via the same route. The total hike to Mt. Islip is roughly 7 miles roundtrip and has about 1,590 feet of elevation gain.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really enjoyed this hike to the summit of Mt. Islip because we got the chance to do some snow hiking. The trail had about 1 - 2 feet of snow along the majority of the trail. We had the chance to utilize our crampons and our winter gear that kept us warm on the hike. The temperatures were in the 30's for much of the hike with a steady breeze. If you are hiking here during the winter months when snow is present make sure you have the proper winter hiking gear. If you are looking for good gear Columbia is a great brand. The trails at this elevation are typically snow-free May through November. This is a very popular trail for much of the year and you are likely to see hikers on the trail and at Little Jimmy Campground. Note, if you are doing this hike in the summer make sure to check the weather to see if thunderstorms are forecasted for the mountains in Southern California. If they are, make sure to begin your hike to Mt. Islip early enough to be done before any potential thunderstorms build in the afternoon.

The Little Jimmy Campground honors the early 20th century newspaper cartoonist Jimmy Swinnerton who was the creator of the Little Jimmy Comic Strip. Mr. Swinnerton spent much of the summer of 1909 at this pleasant camp, which was remote and isolated at that time. If you are looking to make a backpacking trip out of this hike, this is a great location to camp.

On the summit of Mt. Islip you will discover the shell of an old stone cabin and the footings of a fire lookout tower that stood on the summit of Mt. Islip from 1927 to 1937. It is always neat to see a piece of history while on a hike. The summit offers a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. You can see the Pacific Ocean Downtown Los Angeles, Saddleback Mountain, Mt. San Jacinto, and much more on a clear day from Mt. Islip. Ashley and I both loved this hike to Mt. Islip and would highly recommend it to those looking to make it to the summit of a major peak in the high San Gabriel Mountains.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 1,590 ft. (Moderate), Distance: 7 Miles Roundtrip (Moderate).

Time to Complete Hike: 4 - 5 hours.

View Mt. Islip in a larger map


  1. I love old ruins like that stone cabin. If I cant hike to a summit top I prefer to hike to some old piece of history.

  2. What is the origin of the nam Islip?

    1. The mountain gets its name from George Islip who was an early pioneer who homesteaded in San Gabriel Canyon in the late 1800s.

  3. What is the proper pronunciation for "Islip"?


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