Strawberry Peak via Red Box Canyon is my second SoCal peak. I’m on a mission to conquer all of them. Why? Because it’s fun and something different than just running hard road miles all of the time.
Strawberry Peak Quick Stats:
7.2 miles/1700 feet
Strawberry Peak is one of the shorter SoCal peaks with one of the least amounts of elevation. Don’t let that fool you because you have a challenging scramble towards the top where you gain over 250 ft in .6 miles. It took me about 90 minutes up and down. Once you are at the top, you have a good view of Los Angeles, Mt. Wilson, and Mt. Baldy.
Why is it called Strawberry Peak?
That was my first question too. I assumed it was because there were strawberry plants at the top. Just kidding…maybe. The top resembles an upside-down strawberry.
Strawberry Peak Address:
Red Box Picnic Area, Angeles Crest Hwy, Azusa, CA 91101.
It’s right off of Angeles Crest Highway. If you get motion sickness in cars, keep that in mind because you’ll take about 20 miles of mountain roads.
At the Strawberry Peak trailhead, there are bathrooms and picnic benches. You do need a National Parks Pass or an Adventure Pass for parking.
Shoes: Altra Superior 5
Hydration: PNG hydration
About Strawberry Peak:
A nice part of Strawberry Peak is you can usually climb it year round. While it occasionally gets snow, it melts quickly. When we went in early December, it was 25 at the start (6:30 am), and by the time we finished, it was 45. We were lucky e didn’t deal with wind. We started early, but as we came back down, we saw many people.
Strawberry Peak is the most prominent peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, located in Los Angeles County. It’s 10 miles north of Pasadena and 28 miles north of Los Angeles. It stands at 6,164 ft. It’s the tallest peak in the Front Range and just 3 feet taller than San Gabriel Peak. In 2014, it was closed due to a fire but has since opened up. You’ll see some of the fire damage while hiking up.
My Experience at Strawberry Peak:
The first part of Strawberry Peak starts off fairly easy. In fact, the first two miles, you wonder, this is hard but not ardeous…why do they consider it a SoCal peak? We averaged around 22-minute miles and weren’t putting a lot of effort into it. Just hiking.
Why would they consider this one of the more challenging SoCal Peaks? Hopefully, you did more research than me, because the last half mile is a lot of scrambling. You look at a pile of rocks and think: we could not possibly be going over that. Spoiler: you are. We saw many people with trekking poles. For the last 1.5 miles, we averaged about 40-minute miles.
There are several turns along the way that you might wonder, am I going the right way. The trail is fairly easy to follow, and if it “looks like the trail,” it probably is. You aren’t offroading or walking through bushes (and you don’t want to because you might see rattlesnakes).
The last section is steep, and if you like trekking poles on climbs or descents, this is a great place to have them. We were nearly crawling on our hands at some parts. There are basically three false tops. You get to the top of one scramble, look over and realize there is another. Repeat. Repeat.
Fnally, you make it to the top of Strawberry Peak. It’s a gorgeous 360 view of Los Angeles and the Angeles National Forest. It’s the first peak I’ve ever climbed with plenty of signs, so I was super excited to finally have my chance with a sign.
We stayed for about 20 minutes and headed back down. The scramble down is equally as challenging, if not more than the way up. Thankfully, the last 2 miles are smooth sailing. Every parking space was taken when we got back to the Red Box Canyon Parking lot around 10. Personally, I would prefer to watch the sunrise again to get here early. In all, one of my more favorite hikes in the area. I liked Mt. Wilson too; it was just so long.
A few more photos:
You can see more hikes here.
Questions for you:
Have you hiked up Strawberry Peak?
Where is your favorite hike?