Posted by: GeekHiker | January 16, 2008

HIKE: Highway 2 Snowshoe

(The fact that this is even possible in LA County is, well, wow…)

When my friend e-mailed me asking about hiking last weekend, I sent back another suggestion in reply: the storm the previous weekend had dropped a lot of snow in the mountains, how about a snowshoe instead? “Sure!” was the reply.

Yeah, sometimes it seems like there are a lot of reasons to dislike LA, but the fact that on Saturday I strapped on my snowshoes and went trudging off into a winter wonderland, then on Sunday got a club sandwich and fries in 75 degree weather is nothing to complain about. The fact that there’s such variety in such a small geographical area is, simply-put, amazing.

Obviously this hike can only be done during the winter when a decent covering of snowfall is in the mountains. I haven’t actually gone snowshoeing in a couple of years due to lack of snowfall, so this was a pleasant treat.

There isn’t really much of a hike description here: just drive to the trailhead as specified below, strap on your snowshoes (available at some local sporting goods stores for rent), and start up the closed part of Highway 2. Although the highway has been closed at this location for the last couple of years due to storm damage, CalTrans always stops plowing the highway at this point in the winter.

Starting up the highway, just past the road closure gate

This is a good warm-up snowshoe, as the road curves upward at a gentle incline, working its way through sunny spots and chilly shady areas. It’s perfect for beginning snowshoers too, the added benefit being that you can master snowshoeing in about 5 minutes (Can you walk? Congrats! You can snowshoe!).

Highway 2 Snowshoe 05

Continuing up the highway

It’s hard, too,to ignore the relative oddity that comes from the amazing steepness of these mountains, owing to their location on the San Andreas Fault. The highway and its covering of snow at 7,000 feet was a mere two miles from the Antelope Valley, 5,000 feet lower and with temperatures in the 70’s. An accident of geology that’s utterly fascinating.

Highway 2 Snowshoe 03

Looking down on the sunny Antelope Valley

And the best part? Unlike most hikes in the Angeles, which are often punctuated by the sound of motorcycles racing through the mountains at 100mph in the distance, there was nothing but silence this day.

Highway 2 Snowshoe 01

Snowy side canyon

Highway 2 Snowshoe Panorama

Panorama of the highway and the Antelope Valley

Highway 2 Snowshoe 02

The snow-covered Angeles High Country

Snowshoe as far as you like up the road, then turn around and head back, all down hill.

Total Distance: 4.4 miles

Elevation Gain/Loss: 630′/630′


Directions: From Interstate 210, exit Highway 2 North in La Canada Flintridge. Follow the highway to the parking lot at Islip Saddle, mile post 62.5 (as of this writing, this is the point at which Highway 2 is closed due to storm damage from two years ago). Park in the parking lot or along the road if the lot is full. National Forest Pass required.



  1. wow, i didn’t realize there was so much snow so close to LA … it looks so absolutely peaceful

  2. “And the best part? Unlike most hikes in the Angeles, which are often punctuated by the sound of motorcycles racing through the mountains at 100mph in the distance, there was nothing but silence this day.”

    Guilty as charged.

    You and I both know the best places to hike are far, far away from the sound of motorcycles, so I don’t feel guilty for those afternoons I’m pulling 13k on the tach through the twisties. 😀

    (Always wanted to give snowshoes a go but you won’t find any in my neck of the woods.)

  3. I have switched my MASH hike to this one on my list. That looks absolutely fan-freakin-tastic! I’m kind of a winter baby so snow is always good. Great pics, makes me jealous. When we hike in snow we come home to have a club snadwich and fries in the exact same temperature as we hiked in. Jealous much? Meh.

  4. So how far is that from where you’re at?? Southern California getting snow, who would have thunk it…

  5. Rather stunning I must say.

  6. i think it’s awesome that you snowshoe! it’s snowing here in VA right this second, wiching i had a pair of my own on a day like this!

  7. The Snowy side canyon is best. Arrh, I’m jealous:)

  8. Awesome pictures, as usual GH. I can’t wait to be back to the Mid-West and I can be a newbie snowshoer.

    After the rain we had a week and a half ago the mountains north of me were all cover is snow – truly gorgeous. I was tempted to head to the high country but that would be a 15 mile hike to get to the best snow. That’s a little too far for me … for now. Give me some time and I’ll get there.

  9. seine – Amazing, isn’t it?

    Aaron – Yeah, I think we’ll agree to disagree on this one. At least here in CA, the bikes are so loud that at least a day’s hike would be needed to get away from the noise!

    backpacker momma – You’re more than welcome to join along!

    cripkitty – CalTrans stops plowing the road about an hour’s drive above La Canada.

    just a girl – Indeed it was. 🙂

    charlotte – I just wish I could get out more, but unless we get more storms…

    gany – Thanks, I liked that shot too

    Homer-Dog – I think you’ll like snowshoeing. Hmmmm, maybe try a day-trip to Frazier Park?

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