Garcia Trail to Azusa Peak A sign Glendora Ridge Motorway Glendora Peak hike San Gabriel Mountains

In Griffith Park, Mount Lee has the Hollywood Sign. In the San Gabriel Mountains, Azusa Peak has “the A.” The big white uppercase A just below the summit is hard to miss from the city below. You can hike to the A and up to the top of Azusa Peak on a 2 2/3-mile out and back hike with 1,275 feet of elevation gain. After the steep climb, you have the option to hike to a second peak, Glendora Peak, expanding the trek to 4 2/3 miles round trip with 1,800 feet of elevation gain.

To get to Azusa Peak, you’ll hike up Garcia Trail to an junction with Glendora Ridge Motorway just west of the summit. Start up Garcia Trail alongside a fire station at the base of Azusa Peak. With 1,100 feet of elevation gain to tackle in 1,18 miles, Garcia Trail is steep from the start and the grade rarely lets up.

Garcia Trail Azusa Peak A
Looking up Garcia Trail toward the A below Azusa Peak

After a quarter mile, as the trail passes a holding tank on the left, you will get a good view up the mountain toward the A. The trail edges to the east, offering expanding views over Glendora and across the San Gabriel Valley toward the Santa Ana Mountains to the south. There are a few shade-providing oaks along the trail, but you will be mostly exposed to the sun during your conquest of Azusa Peak.

After 3/4 of a mile, Garcia Trail launches into a string of steady switchbacks that feel a little less steep than the trail below. At the top of these switches, Garcia Trail curves into a draw in the mountainside west of the summit where you will come even with the A. The large white letter lies on the ridge just to the west. Beyond the A, there is a view west toward downtown Los Angeles.

Azusa Peak A
A side view of the A

After 1.18 miles of climbing, Garcia Trail comes to an end at a junction with Glendora Ridge Motorway, a vehicle-free dirt road running along the ridge connecting Azusa Peak and Glendora Peak.

If you step to your left (west) on Glendora Ridge Motorway, you will spot the top of a very steep path going down to the A. Unless you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you’ll probably decide that you got a close enough view of the A from Garcia Trail. From the top of Garcia Trail, you also gain a new view west down the ridge into San Gabriel Canyon and northwest toward higher peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Garcia Trail
Looking back over the top of Garcia Trail

To reach Azusa Peak, turn right at the top of Garcia Trail and head east up Glendora Ridge Motorway. After a few hundred feet, the road will split. Glendora Ridge Motorway continues to the left through a grove of oaks on the north side of the Azusa Peak, while another trail breaks off to the right toward the summit. Turn right and make the short hike to the top of Azusa Peak, 0.15 miles from the top of Garcia Trail.

Azusa Peak
Looking west from the trail up Azusa Peak

At 2,081 feet, Azusa Peak offers quite a view. You can looks south over the full spread of the San Gabriel Valley. The skyline of downtown Los Angeles rises to the west, and if you look past the skyscrapers, you should be able to spot the form of the Palos Verdes Peninsula and a shimmering streak of the Pacific Ocean (along with the silhouette of Catalina Island on a clear day). There is a painted cross at the summit of Azusa Peak along with a bench where you can relax and gaze. This is a popular hike, and when you get to the top, it’s obvious why!

Azusa Peak
The summit of Azusa Peak

After taking in the summit view, you may return the way you came, or continue along Glendora Ridge Motorway to Glendora Peak. While you are bound to be tired by the 1.33-mile, 1,275-foot climb, if you choose to continue to Glendora Peak, the hiking will get easier. Another reason to extend this hike is that you will be leaving most of the other hikers behind and will find far greater solitude on the trail to Glendora Peak.

Glendora Ridge Motorway
Looking northeast from Azusa Peak toward Glendora Peak

Follow the path down the east side of Azusa Peak, where it rejoins Glendora Ridge Motorway. Hike through oaks and across a saddle that bridges the two peaks. The road turns uphill and begins a steady climb along the north side of the ridgeline, which offers hikers new views into San Gabriel Canyon and across the canyon toward grander mountains to the north.

A third of a mile past the saddle, there will be a single-track breaks off to the right that climbs to the top of Glendora Peak. You may take this path, or continue up the road, which is more gradual. After reaching the summit via the road, you can hike down the path and enjoy great views looking out from the mountain toward Azusa Peak.

Continuing up Glendora Ridge Motorway, you will wrap around to the east side of Glendora Peak where there is a grand view of Mount Baldy and the surrounding peaks to the northeast. About 0.85 miles from the saddle, Glendora Ridge Motorway will cross a firebreak on the east side of Glendora Peak. You should turn right here to reach the summit.

Mount Baldy from Glendora Ridge Motorway
Looking further up Glendora Ridge Motorway toward Mount Baldy

Find the firebreak at a point where Glendora Ridge Motorway starts to bend away from Glendora Peak toward a new string of summits and saddles (eventually reaching Glendora Mountain Road). Leave Glendora Ridge Motorway and double back toward the summit up the firebreak. There is only a few feet of elevation gain (and less than a tenth of a mile of hiking) between Glendora Ridge Motorway and the top of Glendora Peak, where you will find a pair of survey markers.

Glendora Peak
The summit of Glendora Peak

The 2,596-foot peak offers even bigger views than Azusa Peak. If you couldn’t make out the ocean and the Palos Verdes Peninsula from Azusa Peak, you have an even better chance from this higher vantage.

The path down the west side of Glendora Peak will quickly return you to Glendora Ridge Motorway, descending 375 feet in 0.35 miles. As you hike down the single-track, you’ll get great views into San Gabriel Canyon and down the ridge toward Azusa Peak.

Glendora Peak
Looking down the path on the west side of Glendora Peak

Turn left at the bottom of the path (toward Azusa Peak) and return to the top of Garcia Trail via Glendora Ridge Motorway. The extension to Glendora Peak adds two miles to the hike to Azusa Peak, bringing the distance to 4 2/3 miles with 1,800 feet of elevation gain.

It is a lot easier (and a lot faster) to hike down Garcia Trail than it is to hike up! Dogs and mountain bikes are welcome (although the often-crowded Garcia Trail will be be tough on bikers). No fee or permit is required to hike to Azusa Peak and Glendora Peak, so get out and enjoy!

To get to the trailhead: From the 210 Freeway in Azusa, take exit 40 north on Azusa Avenue (Route 39). Drive 1.8 miles north to a split in the road. San Gabriel Canyon (Route 39) heads to the left, but you should continue straight for another block on Azusa Ave and turn right on Sierra Madre Avenue. Drive 1.1 miles east to the trailhead, just past the second traffic circle. Roadside parking is availalbe. The trailhead for Garcia Trail is just west of an LA County Fire Station.

Trailhead address: Sierra Madre Avenue & Garcia Trail, Azusa, CA 91741
Trailhead coordinates: 34.146861, -117.890387 (34° 08′ 48.69″N 117° 53′ 25.39″W)

Use the map below to create your own directions:

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Photos

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These photos were taken in January of 2013. Click to enlarge.
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12 Comments on Azusa Peak and Glendora Peak in the San Gabriel Mountains

  1. A photo of Glendora Ridge Trail near Glendora Peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, California

  2. Adam W says:

    Please, please don’t hold up Azusa’s “A” as the San Gabriel mountains’ version of the Hollywood sign. How embarrassing! It’s made of glorified trash bags! Cities like Duarte and Monrovia at least have their city letters up on the mountain made of permanent materials…

    And for the record, I know everyone always says Garcia Trail is in Azusa, but the reality is that the trailhead is right on the border and most of the trail is actually in Glendora. More importantly, the peak known as Azusa Peak is actually in Glendora!

    • Andrew says:

      Relax Adam were not talking about the 38th parallel! Are you so much against Azusa that you have to make the distinction? Just enjoy the hike and the view!

      • Adam W says:

        Actually, yes. I do have something against Azusa. It’s a corrupt city with a history of cronyism that is almost as bad as places like Bell and Vernon. As a hiker, I will never forgive Azusa, AKA “the Canyon City,” for what they’ve done to Fish Canyon, home of the nicest falls in the San Gabriels. In the 50s Duarte, incorporated in order to stop quarrying operations in the community (with the support of the county) was going to shut down the quarrying operations which had cut off the once-famous canyon, pride of the local community. The quarry then got Azusa to annex it and to allow continued quarrying. Every generation, this fight has resurfaced (80s, late 2000s) and every time Azusa officials made back room deals to keep this quarry operating.
        Azusa has also always given APU carte blanche to tear down original Route 66 resources. Azusa even aided and abetted APU in tearing down a very early McDonalds and a drive-in movie theater – both times deliberately misleading the public about their intentions.
        So yes, Azusa sucks royally!

  3. Bob Myers says:

    I found the Garcia trail much too crowded. I go hiking to get away from the crowds. Once you get above the cross…so much better! Views are better and almost no one on the trail! I will do this hike again, but I will bypass the Garcia Trail portion.

  4. albert says:

    i just bought me “good entry level” mountain bike that has disk brakes and a shock on the fork.
    i live in the los angeles area and is there a trail that you would recommend to a beginner mountain biker? thanks!

  5. Is Garcia’s Trail will have access to hike Saturday 18 because of fire?

  6. Bahram says:

    Does anyone know when the Garcia trail will reopen after the fire

  7. mark smith says:

    Closure alert, of course many avid hikers are aware that since January 16, 2014 the trail head has been closed. A huge fire roared though this area, after a campers fire got out of control just off of Colby trail in Glendora, California.

    Now the city of Glendora has started the process of restricting street side parking to residents only, all other’s who park their cars and hike will be issued a ticket and or have their cars towed away.

    There are NO parking facilities on the Azusa side of the entrance to the Garcia Trail head.

    • Adam W says:

      Thanks for the head’s up. Apparently the residents got annoyed with the popularity of Garcia trail. Of course the trail has been there for over a century, long before most, if not all, of the houses…

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