Mount Lukens is the highest peak within the city limits of Los Angeles and the westernmost peak in the San Gabriel Mountain Range. Standing tall above the Crescenta Valley, Mount Lukens provides spectacular views of Greater Los Angeles Area, Tujunga Canyon, the San Fernando Valley, and the Verdugo Mountains. The downside to Mount Lukens’ proximity to Los Angeles, is that the summit has been blemished and disfigured by radio antennae, cellular towers, and ugly concrete support buildings. Still, the views provided from the summit, more than make up for the view of the summit.
Directions And GPS Tracks:
- To hike to the summit of Mount Lukens via Dunsmore Canyon, you’ll start at Deukmejian Wilderness Park located at 3429 Markridge Rd, Glendale, CA 91214. This address will only get you to Markridge Rd, so continue heading east on Markridge for another 100 meters or so and you’ll see a sign for the park to the north. There is main paved parking lot and a dirt overflow parking lot.
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- Distance: 10 miles
- Elevation Gain: 2818 ft
- Minimum Elevation: 2358 ft
- Maximum Elevation: 5075 ft
- Time: 5-8 hours
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Dog Friendly: Allowed on leash
- Permit Required: No
- Season: Year Round (Avoid on hot days)
- Trail Condition: The trail is steep, well maintained, well marked, and easy to follow
- Cell Phone Reception: Pretty good
Hike Map And Elevation Profile:
If you look online, there are a lot of names provided for this hike. The reason is that this hike starts at Deukmejian Wilderness Park and heads into the Dunsmore Canyon using two trails, the Rim-of-the-Valley Trail and the Crescenta View Trail. A counterclockwise loop, ascends the Cresenta View Trail and descends the Rim-of-the-Valley Trail. This is my preferred route on this hike and the one I will be referring to in this hike description.
0.0 miles- Leaving the parking lot behind, head towards the gated road and make your way towards the Crescenta View Trail.
0.3 miles- There is a lot going on in the first quarter mile of hiking, with a few different trails branching off from the main trail. Most people are heading on the Le Mesnager Loop via the Dunsmore Canyon Trial. For this reason, don’t just follow the person in front of you. Stay right at the junctions and eventually you’ll see the marker for the Crescenta View Trail. You’ll stay right here as well.
After starting the Crescenta View Trail, you’ll cross over a wash and the uphill hiking beings immediately. Make sure your legs are nice and warm at this point as you’re set to gain close to 700 ft in elevation for each mile over the next three miles.
On the ascent, you’ll see a ridge route cutting through a few of the switchbacks. I didn’t see anyone attempting the ridge route on this day, but it looks like it might be fun. There are a few sections on this trail that had pretty steep falloffs, so make sure to keep your wits and pay close attention.
1.5 miles- Things begin to level out for a bit here with a stretch of flat trail before the switchbacks begin again in earnest.
2.0 miles- A massive camping windbreak denotes the two mile mark of this hike. This is also when the fog started to burn off and views of the Crescenta Valley really started to open up.
2.5 miles- In 2009, this area was devastated by the Station Fire, one of the worst fires in the history of Los Angeles . 8 years on, much of the Chaparral, Mazanita, and Scrub Oak are well on their way to recovery, but charred remnants still offer a vivid reminder.
3.0 miles- The trail really begins to level off after the 3 mile mark, with only 400 of elevation gained between mile 3 and mile 4.
3.4 miles- At 3.4 miles you come to a junction with a well maintained fire road named Mount Lukens Rd./ ANF 3N27. Take a left at the junction to head towards Mount Lukens.
The fire road is wide and well maintained from this point on. Keep an eye out for mountain bikes and 4x4s.
4.7 miles- Similar to Mt. Wilson, the summit of Mount Lukens can feel a bit underwhelming due to the massive amount of man-made obstructions. There are still plenty of great views to be enjoyed though, particularly from the western and northern edges of the summit block.
When you’re ready to leave the summit, continue on the fire road and keep right as it veers northwest.
6.5 miles- The downhill hiking on Rim-of-the-Valley Trail is very pleasant, with great views of the Crescenta Valley below. As you approach 6.5 miles, you’ll pass a junction to your right. Ignore this and continue on ahead.
7.5 miles- As you approach 7.5 miles, you need to keep an eye out for a junction you don’t want to miss. First, you’ll see the trail pass to the left of a ridge to your right. From there, you’ll see a large post, and a trail that falls off below. Take this trail.
9.0 miles- The final stretch of hiking is easily my favorite on this trail. For about a quarter mile, the trail takes you along a creek though a lush green forest.
9.5 miles- At 9.5 miles, you see the final junction for the Le Mesnager Loop Trail. Stay to the right here to complete the Rim-of-the-Valley Trail. Just after the junction, you have a short uphill and then a left hand turn before seeing the trailhead and parking area. Make your way back to the car and consider a stop at the near by In-N-Out for lunch.