Last Wednesday, I saw an invitation to join Brian Marcroft, a Forest Ranger, on a "Railfan Picnic" hike. The flier read:
"Meet at the north end of Lake Ave. in Altadena at 7:30 AM.
Carpools will be organized and will depart at 8:00 AM
After arriving at the Cape of Good Hope there will be a one-mile hike down the railway grade to Echo Mountain.
Tour of the mountain complex will include:
Seeing remnants of the Echo Mountain House and Chalet Hotels, the power plants, tennis courts, observatory, Zoo, Section House, Cable House and Incline. See ongoing work performed by the volunteer groups.
There will be a limited number of visitors.
We will be behind a locked gate and those attending will be required to stay with the group from 8:00 AM to 1:00PM."
Not knowing exactly where the Cape of Good Hope was, the part that caught my eye was, "we will be behind a locked gate." So I packed a picnic of nuts and water along with my digital camera, and set my alarm for Saturday morning.
We congregated at the top of Lake, and at 8am, we set off with about 15 or 20 people in a caravan of 5 cars. We drove to the top of Chaney Trail and were given special access to drive passed the locked gate at the Mt. Lowe Road. We drove east up a slight grade for about two miles, and stopped at a small dirt parking lot located roughly along the historic rail bed at a point known as the Cape of Good hope.
From this point, there is a nice, well maintained trail, following the historic rail bed about 3/4 of a mile from Mt. Lowe Road, south on a shallow down grade to Echo Mountain. I uploaded my snapshots from the walk, and placed them roughly where they were taken on the map. Make sure you switch to Satellite view (upper right corner) so you can zoom in closer.
Photos on a map
I met lots of nice people, and I hope I meet them again soon. Before walking back to the cars, we sat and had a picnic in the shady area just west of the Echo Mountain House ruin, known as the tennis courts.
I got some nice hand-drawn maps from Brian Marcroft, and found out about his web site, mtlowe.net where I found a topo-map of Mt Lowe and the trails leading to it. I added those to my Altadena Crest Trail map project.
View Alatadena Crest Trails map