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Colby Canyon Trail #12W23

 4.0 (4)

A moderately difficult trail weaving around Strawberry Peak to Strawberry Meadow.

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Point to Point

5,048' 1,539 m


3,501' 1,067 m


1,617' 493 m


655' 200 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (16°)

Dogs Leashed

Features River/Creek · Spring · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife


The trail starts where Angeles Crest Highway drops to a low point a few hundred yards east of the turnoff to Switzer Day Use Area. It descends shortly to the canyon bottom and follows it upstream past a nice seasonal waterfall on the left. Most of the area is recovering from the Station Fire (2009), but there are still some nice oaks and bigcone spruce offering shade. About a half mile in, the trail climbs out of the canyon bottom on the east side into chaparral of chamise and ceanothus. It passes along the top of an impressive cliff then descends to cross a seasonal stream. Beware of abundant poison oak here. This is a good spot to take a break and enjoy the shade as there is very little on the long and steep climb up to Josephine Saddle.

There are nice views to the north and south from the saddle. The Josephine Saddle Road #2N64.A heads west and connects with the Josephine Peak Road #2N64 in half a mile. The trail continues northeast and meets a well worn path on the right that goes up the ridge. This is the popular mountaineers route to Strawberry Peak and involves several class 3 pitches with exposure. Those with little climbing experience or fear of heights should avoid using it.

The trail contours around the steep slope in a "U" pattern with Sutter walls supporting the tenuous tread. Loads of rock and sand regularly descend on the trail making this section hazardous if not cleared frequently. It then crosses a ridge and turns northeast onto more stable soils and finally enters a shady forest of oaks and bigcone spruce. A few seasonal springs are passed, and the trail gently rises to a saddle then begins the descent into Strawberry Potrero. There are impressive views of the north face of Strawberry Peak which collapsed in a massive slide creating natural depressions. The trail descends into the largest "potrero" or meadow which is shaded by a few Coulter pines and oaks. This is a nice place to take a break, but it can be astonishing cold at certain times of the year.

The trail climbs gently east and drops into another potrero and then climbs again and drops down and crosses a seasonal spring. This section of trail has an abundance of poison oak as it passes under an oak canopy. A much drier potrero is crossed, and the trail ends at a junction with the Strawberry Peak Trail #12W05.

This trail can be used with the Strawberry Peak Trail #12W05 and the climbing routes to Strawberry Peak to form various loop hikes.

Flora & Fauna

Oaks, bigcone spruce, Coulter pine, holly leaf cherry, manzanita. Bears, deer are sometimes spotted on trail after Josephine Saddle. Beware of poison oak.


Shared By:

Jordan Perry

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 4 votes


  4.0 from 4 votes
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in California


13 Views Last Month
2,162 Since May 14, 2017



Spring bloom at Colby Canyon.
Jun 7, 2017 near Altadena, CA



Current Trail Conditions

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Jun 4, 2022
Regan Hutson
Cut across to Josephine Peak from the saddle. Steep and exposed getting up to the saddle. 7mi
Feb 28, 2021
Frances A
4.2mi — 1h 57m
Feb 21, 2021
Simon Chen
10 miles round trip to strawberry meadow 10mi — 5h 00m
Sep 28, 2019
Nichole Morales
Feb 23, 2019
Nate Levine
Made it to the saddle and back 3mi