This is a great little out-and-back hike. Novice hikers, tourists and families will enjoy the wonderful views (I've seen to Long Beach from here before!) and exciting ruins at the top of Echo Mountain. Experienced hikers will enjoy the opportunity to expand the hike via spurs to Mt. Lowe, Inspiration Point, and others at the summit of Echo Mountain. Expect lots of switchbacks with some steep sections at the beginning, but the trail becomes more mellow and somewhat sheltered by scrub brush with altitude.
Bring water! The first portion with switchbacks is steep, dusty, and exposed. Beware of poison oak—it can be found along the sides of the trail for its duration. There are no restrooms at the start of the trail or on Echo Mountain. The nearest restroom is at Farnsworth Park on Lake Ave., 3 blocks south of Loma Altra Dr.
Street parking only; be considerate of neighborhood signs noting restrictions in different areas. I like to park down the hill on Lake Avenue by the rec center; this does add another 0.5 miles or so in each direction, but there is reliable parking there. Pass through the iron gate of the Cobb Estate and go east 0.1 miles to the start of the Lower Sam Merrill Trail 12W14.1
. Follow this trail for 2.7 to the intersection of the Echo Mountain Trail 12W14.A
. Turn right and go 0.2 miles to the ruins.
The first portion of the trail is a series of mostly exposed, dusty switchbacks which rise rapidly with some steep sections. There are steep drop-offs, so novice hikers may get nervous. On clear days you'll be able to see the ocean out towards Santa Monica and clear views of downtown Los Angeles very readily on this section, so take all the breaks you need!
The middle section is wooded with scrub and live oak stands. Beware of copious poison oak along the trail, mostly in this middle and upper portion of the trail. Another good reason to keep your dog leashed!
At the top, the trail levels and broadens as you head the last 0.25 miles to the ruins. Note the multiple spurs along this section with signage and mileage to destinations such as Mt. Lowe, Mr. Lowe Railway, and Inspiration Point.
The overlook at the apex of the Echo Mountain Trail is the ruins of a turn of the century tourist destination lodge and restaurant. The views are fantastic and there are fun things to do like shout into the "Echo" apparatus that really does echo wonderfully against Mt. Lowe. This is a great place to have a lunch.
There are ruins of a turn of the century lodge and restaurant, as well as remnants of the Mt. Lowe funicular railroad which once reached the lodge (separate trails follow the former railway path).