Adventure Pass required to park at trailhead.
South Mount Hawkins has one of the finest views of the peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains. To the east is the East Fork of the San Gabriel River in a deep gorge with Mt. Baldy rising abruptly behind it. To the west is the rugged San Gabriel Wilderness. On a clear day it is possible to see the entire Los Angeles Basin and the Channel Islands far beyond.
The Forest Service built a road and installed a lookout tower in 1935 atop the summit. The lookout burned down in the Curve Fire of 2002 and was abandoned along with the road. The road is rarely repaired, only when there is a fire or a need to access the repeater on the summit. It is used as a hiking and biking trail and vehicle use is restricted for administrative purposes when passable.
The narrow dirt road starts at Deer Flat where there is a group campground named "Deer Flats Group Campground". It passes through a forest of oak and mixed conifers and reaches the Windy Gap Trail #9W06
in 0.6 miles. Most hikers will start from the Windy Gap Trailhead and hike 1.1 miles north to this point due to the closure of Deer Flat Road to vehicle use.
The road gently climbs on the west side of Hawkins Ridge and crosses Snowslide Canyon about 0.5 miles from the Windy Gap Trail junction. The rocks turn from brown to white indicating a fault running through the canyon. There is usually a small stream crossing the road. During heavy storms, this spot gets completely washed out making it difficult to cross. The road beyond this point passes through a very unstable slope with rocks crashing down continuously, some as large as small cars. It becomes clear how expensive this road was to repair and why the Forest Service had to abandon it. There are usually many rock piles to climb over and washouts to cross along with fallen trees.
After this, there is about 1 mile of rough hiking to where the road reaches a broad ridge and enters a more stable area. There are fine views of the Crystal Lake area below including the campground, cabins, and amphitheater. Islip Ridge and Mt. Islip are directly to the west. Further up, the road passes some rock outcroppings that are full of blooming monkeyflowers in spring. After 3.5 miles from the Windy Gap Trail, the road reaches a saddle and junction with the Hawkins Ridge Trail #9W28
. The road continues for another half mile to the summit of South Mount Hawkins but most hikers may prefer to take the trail to the top.
Oaks, bigcone spruce, Jeffrey pine, sugar pine, white fir. Good wildflowers in spring. Be on the lookout for rattlesnakes.