Hiking the Echo Mountain via the Sam Merrill Trail

Popular views trail thru rugged chaparral to ruins of historic White City resort

Near: Altadena, CA

Distance: 5 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: 1400 ft

Hike Time: 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Trail Condition: Well maintained trail

Hike Type: Out and Back

Professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe’s mountain railway and resort was Southern California’s must-visit attraction, drawing more than three million visitors from 1896 to 1936.

Echo Mountain (3207′), known as “The White City,” was the heart of the resort with its elegant Echo Mountain House hotel, chalet, observatory, and a small zoo. It has all since vanished, but this fascinating hike takes you to the ruins of this official historic landmark.

From the stone gateway at the north end of Lake Avenue, walk east about .2 mile to the marked beginning of the Sam Merrill Trail. After a short descent into the creek bed, the trail climbs steadily up the east slope of Los Flores Canyon. Just short of a half mile past the two-mile marker you will reach the old rail bed of the Mount Lowe Railway.

Turn right (south) and follow the rail route about 100 yards to the Echo Mountain site. Plan to spend some time exploring the ruins, reading the historical plaques, and enjoying the views.


From the I-210 Foothill Freeway in Pasadena, exit at Lake Avenue. Drive north for 3.4 miles to the end of Lake Avenue (where it intersects with the terminus of Loma Alta Drive running east and west). Park along the street. The hike begins to the left of the stone gateway on the east side of the street. (Lat:34.20406 Lon:-118.13054)