At 3375 feet, Jones Peak stands as a sentinel over Sierra Madre, pointed, prominent, and calling hikers to climb it. If you are driving along the I-210 Foothill Freeway through Arcadia, as you pass over Baldwin Avenue, look straight up the street toward the mountains and there's Jones Peak.
This peak does not seem to get much attention in the local hiking literature, but it's certainly one of the best little peaks in the front range of the San Gabriels. From its rounded summit, hikers are rewarded with an unobstructed 360-degree view, which can be striking on a clear day.
There are two primary routes to Jones Peak, which provide four different possible hikes:
1. Bailey Canyon Park up Bailey Canyon to Jones Peak (3.3 miles one way, 2275' gain)
2. Old Mountain Wilson Trail up Little Santa Anita Canyon, then take "Hiker Bob's Crossover Trail" to Jones Peak (about 3.7 miles one way, 2605' gain).
3 and 4. Loop hikes starting from either trailhead (about 7 miles full hike). There's a mile between the two trailheads, so you can arrange a short car shuttle or add another mile to the hike.
Season: November - May
As a general rule in the San Gabriels, the front range is best hiked in the cooler months, and the back range is best in the warmer months. Jones Peak sits in the front range. Getting there means climbing steeply through thick chaparral with little shade. In the cool months, particularly in the spring, this hike can be delightful. Going up the Bailey Canyon route would be sheer torture on a hot summer day unless you start at the crack of dawn. Early in the summer the "June Gloom" (marine layer, coastal fog) can make nice walking conditions but also can greatly obscure your views.
Getting to the Trailhead:
From the 210 Foothill Freeway Arcadia, exit Santa Anita Avenue and go north. Turn left (west) on Grand View.
For the Mount Wilson Trail trailhead: From Grand View turn right (north) on Mount Wilson Trail. Drive up a couple blocks to where the road ends but turns left as Mira Monte Ave. Turn left here. Immediately on your right is Mount Wilson Trail Drive. Park in this area on the street, either on the lower end of Mount Wilson Trail Drive or on Mira Monte. Hike begins by walking up Mount Wilson Trail Drive.
For the Bailey Canyon trailhead: From Grand View (driving west from Santa Anita Ave) drive several blocks to the stop sign at Lima. Continue one more block to Grove. Turn right (north) and drive up the street to Bailey Canyon Park (open "dawn to dusk"). The trial begins on left (west end of the parking lot).
Trail Description (Baily Canyon):
From the Bailey Canyon Park parking lot, take the signed trail which starts on the west end of the parking lot. Walk a couple minutes to a pedestrian gate with a turnstile. Go through the gate and turn right (north), walking up the paved service road past a debris basin on your right. After the road ends, continue on the trail up the canyon. There will be a nice footbridge on your right, but you'll continue straight ahead. After about 5 minutes from the bridge you reach a signed junction. The left fork up the creek is the route to Bailey Canyon Falls, another quarter mile. But you'll take the fork on the right, heading up the east slope. Follow the trail as it switchbacks up and up. At 1.0 mile from the start, you reach MacCloud Saddle. In another 1.2 miles you'll pass an old cabin foundation on your left in a area where the trail nearly meets the creek. You may want to explore around this woodsy spot, but watch out for poison oak. If you opt for a shorter hike rather going to the summit, you can enjoy a lunch here then turn back, making a round trip hike of 4.4 miles.
To reach Jones Peak, continue up the trail, climbing steadily through the chaparral. During mid day there's only a few shady spots in route, compliments of some nicely placed laurel sumac. After three miles of hiking you finally reach the saddle to the north of Jones Peak. Turn right (south) and scramble up the steep use trail, about four minutes to the peak.
From the summit of Jones Peak (3375') the panorama of the San Gabriel Valley lays before you. A street map can help you identify the landmarks below. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Catalina Island to the south. On the distant eastern horizon lies Mount San Jacinto (right) and San Gorgonio Mountain (left). You won't see Mt. Baldy to the east because Monrovia Peak blocks it from view. But to the right, Ontario Peak stands majestically in the Cucamonga Wilderness. To the left of Monrovia Peak, Twin Peaks rises from the heart of the San Gabriel Wilderness. Mount Harvard and Mount Wilson dominate the view to the north. Looking west you can see the southern end of the Verdugo Hills past the 210 Freeway.
Return the way you came.
"Hiker Bob" Annas on the Old Mt. Wilson Trail. Large photo Mr. Annas passed away on January 14, 2008.
Or if you are doing the hike as a loop, from Jones Peak, walk back north to the saddle. Continue straight up the ridge. To the right (east) you can look down into Little Santa Canyon and see a portion of the Mt Wilson trial emerging from Lost Canyon. You'll be there in about a mile and a half. After about 0.2 mile up the ridge you reach a trail junction. A home-made sign points left up the ridge toward Hastings Peak and straight ahead toward Mt Wilson Trail. Follow this route as it steeply descends the north-facing slope into Little Santa Anita Canyon. The spoon-shaped clearing that comes into view below throughout your descent is the "helispot," near where you will meet the Mt. Wilson Trail in about 1 mile. (This crossover trial was built by Bob Annas, known by locals as Hiker Bob. I had the privilege of meeting him on one of my hikes and enjoyed his tidbits of local history and trail lore.)
Once you reach the Mt. Wilson Trail, turn right (east). If you want to take a short side trek you can visit the helispot. To do so, turn left and walk about 1 minute up the trail. The main trail cuts sharp left, and a path continues straight ahead about a 100 feet to a flat clearing (watch for poison oak in route). Enjoy the views from the helispot, then return back to the "crossover" trail junction.
From the junction of the crossover trail and the Mt. Wilson trail, follow the later down canyon for 3.2 miles to the Mt. Wilson Trail trailhead. Turn right and follow the paved road one block to the intersection of Mount Wilson Trail Drive and Mira Monte Ave.
If you've arranged for a car shuttle, you can drive the following route. If not, you'll have to walk it. Take Mira Monte west one half block and turn right on Carter Ave. The street bends left. Follow it to Grove (about 0.8 mile from Mira Monte and Mt. Wilson Trail Drive). Turn right into the Bailey Canyon Park parking lot to find your vehicle.
Trail Description (Mt. Wilson Trail / crossover trail):
From the intersection of Mira Monte Avenue and Mt. Wilson Trail Drive, walk up the drive about 150 yards to the beginning of the marked trail on the left. Follow the trail briefly up to a ridgetop road where you're greeted by another trail sign. Veer to your left and follow the road to the main trail as it begins to climb, high on the western slope of Little Santa Anita Canyon.
Just past the one-mile marker is a switchback which begins a new half-mile re-routed section of the trail (See note below). At 1.5 miles you reach the First Water junction. Veer left and continue up the trail. In a few minutes the canyon narrows to just a few hundred feet across. The trail contours west into Lost Canyon where you will cross the steam, 1.9 miles from the start. As you emerge from lost canyon you are rewarded with a nice view south down the main canyon. Look back over your shoulder (west) to the ridge high above you'll be there in about a mile and a half. Around the bend the main canyon turns west. Here you enter a section I call Poison Oak Forest, where the toxic plant grows in abundance under the shade of a live oak canopy. After about 10 or 12 minutes, 2.7 miles from the start, you'll reach the junction for the crossover trial, on your left. The route starts by going straight up the stream bed heading up to meet the Bailey Canyon Trail.
Before heading up the crossover trail, you might want to take a few minutes to visit the helispot. To do so, stay on the main trail and walk about one minute. The main trail cuts sharp left, and a path continues straight ahead about a 100 feet to a flat clearing (watch for poison oak in route). Enjoy the views from the helispot (Looking northwest toward Mt. Harvard from the helispot), then return back to the "crossover" trail junction. (To continue up the Mt. Wilson Trail, see my Orchard Camp trail description.)
The crossover trail heads up the stream bed for a couple minutes, then cuts right and begins steeply zig zaging up the sunny canyon slope. Say bye to the shade, because there are only a couple spots on this trail where you'll get a reprieve from the sun. If you like switchbacks, you'll love this trail. After climbing 700 vertical feet, the trail reaches the ridge and a trail junction. A home-made sign points right up the ridge toward Hastings Peak and straight ahead toward Mt. Wilson Trail, from where you just came. (For a side trek up Hastings Ridge, see Optional Destination: Hastings Peak below.) Looking south you'll see Jones Peak.
Looking south toward Jones Peak (3375') from the ridge junction.
View large photo
Continue down the ridge to the saddle north of Jones Peak. From the saddle, continue straight and scramble up the steep use trail, about four minutes and 85 vertical to the Jones Peak (3375').
Return the way you came.
Or if you are doing the hike as a loop, walk back north to the saddle. Turn left and follow the trail south, as it zig zags down the east slope of upper Bailey Canyon. After a mile, you'll pass the site of the old cabin foundation on your right where the trail nearly meets the creek.
Looking north toward Jones Peak from Bailey Canyon Park.
Continue down the main trail. The prominent building at the mouth of the canyon is the Passionate Fathers monastery. When you finally reach the canyon bottom you'll pass the signed junction for the trail leading a quarter mile to Bailey Canyon Falls (usually dry), but you'll continue straight down the canyon. After a few minutes you'll pass a bridge on your left and then follow the paved service road with the debris basin on your left. Look for a pedestrian gate with a turnstile on your left, then pass through it and follow the path two minutes the Bailey Canyon Park parking lot.
If you've arranged for a car shuttle, you can drive the following route. If not, you'll have to walk it. Exit the parking lot and turn left immediate onto Carter Avenue. Follow Carter to Mira Monte Avenue, turn left and go one half block to the intersection of Mira Monte and Wilson Trail Drive (about 0.8 mile from the Bailey Canyon Park parking lot) to find your vehicle.
Optional Destination: Hastings Peak - If you would like to extend your hike with a sidetrack destination, you can make the trek to Hastings Peak. I have not seen this peak named on any maps nor have I seen it referenced to in any trail guides or websites. However, the home-made sign on the ridge points west up the ridge with the label "Hastings Peak." The USGS topo map marks the elevation of two high points along the ridge between that junction and the old Mt. Wilson Toll Road: 3724' and 4163'. I have not yet found out which one of these is being referred to as Hastings Peak.
Via the Bailey Canyon Trail: From the saddle north of Jones Peak, follow the steep path north up the ridge. After about 0.2 mile up you reach a trail junction. A home-made sign points left up the ridge toward Hastings Peak and straight ahead toward the Mt Wilson Trail (Note: Signs of this type are prone to disappear, so don't miss the junction if the sign is no longer there. If you find yourself starting to descend into Little Santa Anita Canyon, you've gone too far). Turn left and climb the ridge west and northwest. After about .03 miles you reach the first high point, 3724'. Enjoy your views (North | East). This is as far as I have hiked, but I noted that the path continues up the ridge, and have reports from those who have hiked it all the way past summit 4163' to the Toll Road.
Mt. Wilson Trail - Hundreds of feet trod this immensely popular footpath on any given weekend and on summer evenings. Since the trailhead sits in a residential neighborhood on the edge of a large population, this trail is a favorite for walkers, joggers, and dog lovers. You may feel a little out of place clad with hiking gear until you've wandered up the trail a couple miles. Once you've transitioned unto the crossover trail heading up to the ridge, you'll probably have the trail to yourself.
Bailey Canyon Trail - This popular trail attracts lots of traffic, particularly in the lower sections. On a hot summer day when I hiked down (7-10-04), I had the entire 3.3-mile trip from summit to trailhead all by myself (Than again, the dominant thought on my mind was, "This heat is miserable! Why am I doing this?"). On Jones Peak, the summit log book shows a modest flow of visitors climbing to this destination, an average of a few a week. When I did the hike on 11-24-05 (Thanksgiving morning), there were lots of hikers on the trail. Three were coming off the summit when we were arriving. More hikers in several parties were coming up the trail as we were going down. Trail was in excellent condition.
- Highpoints - Jones Peak is certainly not a high mountain by California standards, but it is higher than the highest points in 19 states. Once back at the saddle, if you head north, 0.4 mile up to the first bump on the ridge (3724') you've surpassed the high points of 22 states. And if you continue up another half mile to the next bump (4163'), 24 states. Fifty State Summits list from peakware.com.
Related links on Dan's Hiking Pages:
- Bailey Canyon Trails - by Tom Chester. Detailed mileage for the various trail sections, background information, topo maps, and links.
- Bailey Canyon Park - at www.sierramadrenews.net. Provides basic information about the park.
- Adventure Hikes and Canvoneering in the San Gabriels by Christopher E. Brennen. "Hike D7. Bailey Canyon." Provides thorough information on a cross-country hike down Baily Canyon from the old foundation. This route requires technical skils and equipment.
Last Hiked: November 24, 2005
- Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels - by John Robinson with Doug Christiansen (Wilderness Press, 8th Edition, April 2005). Hike 34: "Sierra Madre to Bailey Canyon, Jones Peak." This hike was added to the 8th Edition (not in previous editions). They direct the hiker to the falls as part of route to Jones Peak: "...you reach a junction. Turn left and walk a short distance to a small waterfall, then right to Jones Peak." Unfortunately, this is vague and misleading. It suggests that the route continues from the falls rather than stating that the hiker needs to walk back to the main trail junction, and then turn right (which would actually be left). It's also misleading that they put the entire hike to Jones Peak at 7.0 miles round trip without clearly indicated that that includes an unnecessary side trip to the falls. They should have just published the hike at 6.6 miles.
- Afoot and Afield in Los Angeles County - by Jerry Schad (Wilderness Press: Berkley, 2nd Edition, Sept. 2000) - Area A-6, Trip 8: "Bailey Canyon." Brief description of the hike to Bailey Canyon Falls (1.2 miles round trip). Jerry first published this account (1990) before the trail was complete to the summit, but failed to update it for the 2nd Edition (2000), long after the trail was complete.
- Los Angeles County: A Day Hiker's Guide - by John McKinney (The Trailmaster, 2006). "Bailey Canyon." Describes the hikes to the falls, Jones Peak, and the loop route via Mt. Wislon trail.