Dawn Mine offers a glimpse into the history of the San Gabriel Mountains. The abandoned shafts can be reached on a moderately strenuous 6-mile round trip hike up beautiful Millard Canyon.
To visit the entrance to this forgotten gold mine, start from the Millard Campground parking area and hike half a mile up the canyon to Millard Falls. Take in the falls and back up three hundred feet. You will see a wooden post to your left, marking a steep path up the wall of the canyon. This is the start of the extended trail to Dawn Mine.
If the steep path isn’t appealing, you will find easier access to the canyon above Millard Falls by hiking up Sunset Ridge Trail.
Take the steep path up along the right rim of the canyon, returning to the creek at a small landing above Millard Falls. Cross the water here and pick up the single track on the other side. The pleasant hike upstream begins anew.
Follow the trail as it routinely crosses the creek, unable to decide which side it wants to be on. The trail breaks up some as the canyon widens, bringing in more California bays and other vegetation. Stick with the stream. As long as you do not exit the canyon, you will arrive at the destination.
The photos in this report depict recognizable milestones to help guide you to the mine. The photos below offer more scenic views of the hike.
The trail passes over rusted out pipes and other man-made vestiges.
You will cross under and over a few logs along your way.
When you start to ask yourself, “how far away is this thing,” you are probably getting close. A miles from the mine, the canyon narrows and the creek may disappear underground. The stream bed becomes a boulder field, so take the trail to the left as it winds up a steep slope.
When you come back into the stream bed, you should see these blackened tree roots standing out and covered in white stones:
Follow the dry creek and trail into a wooded area, as you close in on the mine. The trail will cross back and forth across the creek. At one point, when you are walking along the right bank, there will be remnants of an old miners’ encampment in a clearing on the slope to the left. Pay a brief visit to the rusting relics and push on for the last third of a mile to the mine.
The canyon bends to the left, then to the right, as you rock-hop along. When the trail switches up the canyon wall to the left, you are there! Take a look at the rusted engine that once delivered gold from the mine, and ascend to the mouth of the mine. Climb inside and enjoy a moment in the cold shade. If you brought a flashlight you can have a look back into the dark recesses.
Leave the mine and retrace your steps down the canyon. Take your time and enjoy the calming creek as the sun plays on the water through the leaves of the bays above. You are sure to return to Millard Falls with a feeling of blissful accomplishment. An Adventure Pass is required to park at the trailhead for Dawn Mine in the Angeles National Forest. No other permit is required, so get out and enjoy!
Alternate route: Sunset Ridge Trail can be used to access Millard Canyon above Millard Falls (avoiding the steep ridge ascent to get above the waterfall). Start hiking up Mount Lowe Road from Chaney Trail that is half a mile from the Millard Falls Trailhead). Hike 0.37 miles east on this paved road and turn left on Sunset Ridge Trail. The trail ventures up the canyon past views of Millard Falls. At 0.85 miles from the start, come to a split and turn left leaving Sunset Ridge Trail. This trail passes a cabin owned by Altadena Mountain Rescue Team. Beyond that, a path drops into the canyon that can be used to hike up the canyon to Dawn Mine.
To get to the trailhead: Take the 210 freeway to Pasadena. Exit Lake Avenue and head north. After 3.5 miles, turn left at the T onto Loma Alta Drive. After one mile, make a right on Chaney Trail. The 1.5 mile road winds up to Sunset Ridge and down to the parking lot for Millard Campground and the trail to Dawn Mine.
Trailhead address: Chaney Trail, Angeles National Forest, Altadena, CA 91001
Trailhead coordinates: 34.2162, -118.1463 (34° 12′ 58.3″N 118° 08′ 46.7″W)
Use the map below to view the trail and get directions:
This one mile hike visits a 50-foot waterfall up one of the most scenic canyons in the range.
|Mount Lowe Road & Sunset Ridge Trail to Cape of Good Hope
This pair of trails can be combined for a 5.2-mile round trip hike to a historic viewpoint called Cape of Good Hope. Follow the old route of Mount Lowe Railway to the ruins on Echo Mountain to extend the hike by two miles round trip or bring the distance up to 11.85 miles by visiting Echo Mountain, Inspiration Point, Mount Lowe Trail Camp, and other landmarks.
|Castle Canyon Trail to Inspiration Point (and beyond)
This 2-mile long trail ascends from the ruins on Echo Mountain to a historic viewpoint that still offers hike-worthy panoramas. Form a loop back to Echo Mountain to visit Mount Lowe Trail Camp, Cape of Good Hope, and other landmarks on Mount Lowe Railway.
|Echo Mountain via Sam Merrill Trail
This 5.8-mile hike visits a historic railway and ruins from a century old resort overlooking Pasadena.
|Rubio Canyon Trail
This 1.3-mile round trip hike ventures into a rustic canyon to a double waterfall.
|More trails in the San Gabriel Mountains
Explore other destinations in the range.
|Santa Anita Canyon Loop
This 9.5-mile loop visits two peaceful creeks in sylvan canyons, passing a 60-foot waterfall and plenty of beautiful wilderness.
This is the place to camp at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains (or the place to start on a hike to Millard Falls or Dawn Mine).