At 6,165 feet, Strawberry Peak is the highest summit in the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains, a mere 3 feet taller than its neighbor, San Gabriel Peak. This area was heavily damaged and was closed after the Station Fire in 2009, but was re-opened in 2014.
Strawberry Peak name was given by mountaineers over a century ago because of its peak’s likeness to an enormous upside-down strawberry fruit.
During clear days, Strawberry Peak can be seen as a round bump behind San Gabriel Peak and Mount Wilson, usually visible from the LA basin.
Hikers are rewarded with excellent views of the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains, and beyond to Los Angeles and Glendale skylines.
Getting to Trailhead
Red Box Picnic Area is easy to reach. It is 14 miles up along the Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) from La Canada Flintridge, at the intersection of Mount Wilson Red Box Road. The picnic area has a large parking lot with a public restroom. An Adventure Pass is required to park.
To get to Strawberry Peak trailhead, VERY carefully cross Highway 2 from parking lot. The trailhead is marked with a wood post announcing the Strawberry Peak Trail.
Hiking the Trail to Strawberry Peak
The hike starts easily enough on a single-track dirt trail lined with oak trees and ascends gradually and continues up the ridge above Highway 2. Power lines run along this early portion of the trail, but rest assured, it ends as you go further up.
Continue hiking up to 0.9 miles to a sharp switchback heading west, with Mount Lawlor rising just above you. The trail continues to ascend gradually, with occasional downhill stretches which are not bad. At mile 2, you will look south with an excellent view of Mount Disappointment and San Gabriel Peak, and Mount Wilson to the west.
At this point, you will also have an intimidating view of the steep slope to Strawberry Peak. From here, you will hike downhill, dropping sharply to the Lawlor Saddle, losing some of the hard-earned gains. Once at the Lawlor Saddle, it is a good spot to rest and refuel before the technical climb to the peak.
Mile 2.5 marks the beginning of the steep ascent to Strawberry Peak. Turn left, off Strawberry Peak Trail, leaving the comfort of the trail. (Although, it is tempting to continue on the right, towards Strawberry Meadow). At this point, the climb is relentless with some rock scrambles, and which you may occasionally use your hands to navigate big rocks.
Yucca, sage and low shrubs dominate the landscape in this part. As you climb, there will be two false peaks that follows the ridge line, and finally arriving on the real peak of Strawberry Peak.
The peak itself is a small bump, surrounded by low brush, and with spectacular views of the LA basin. Some hikers bring strawberries (if in season) as an homage for conquering its sweet summit.
After your summit selfies and celebratory strawberries, return to the Red Box parking area the same way you came.
Strawberry Peak Trail Map
Tips & Resources for Hiking Strawberry Peak
- Go early to get first dibs on parking. An Adventure Pass is required for parking.
- There is a restroom at the parking lot area.
- Avoid the Poodle-dog bush! Do NOT touch it! It is pretty to look at with purple flowers, but this can irritate skin and cause itching, rashes and blisters. Symptoms are very similar to poison oak. Wearing long pants is highly recommended.
- Bring sun protection. Once above the tree line, you are fully exposed to the sun. This hike will be extremely hot during the summertime.
- Carry at least 3 liters of hydration. There are no water sources here.
- Strawberry Peak is part of the SoCal Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge supporting Big City Mountaineers.