Crystal Lake to South Mt. Hawkins10 miles round trip.
Elevation gain: 2,800 feet
Topo Map: Crystal Lake
This is a moderately strenuous hike but a most pleasant one, through open forest and with fine views. It is about four miles uphill from Crystal Lake Campground, but the climb is gradual and not difficult.
Follow Highway 39 twenty-five miles from Azusa to Crystal Lake Recreation Area. Go a short distance past the store and Forest Service Visitor Center to the large dirt parking area. A National Forest Adventure Pass is required for your vehicle while parked in this area unless you have paid to enter the Crystal Lake Recreation Area. Begin your hike at the Windy Gap Trail sign at the north edge of the paved road above the parking lot. A short distance up the trail, you will cross a paved road, and about three-fourths mile you will come to this same road (unpaved at this point) again as it switches back on the way to South Mt. Hawkins. Leave the trail here and follow the road to your right as it winds up around the side of the mountain to the summit. There is a forest of pine, fir and cedar all the way, with a fine overview between the trees of the Crystal Lake area and the mountains beyond. From the top of South Mt. Hawkins, elevation 7783 ft., is a grand view of San Gabriel Canyon, its North Fork and across the great chasm of the East Fork to Mt. Baldy and other peaks.
For a scenic loop trip, take the South Mt. Hawkins Trail which begins just to the north of the lookout tower. Hike about 2 1/2 miles to the saddle west of Mt. Hawkins. Turn to the left at the trail junction (Pacific Crest Trail) and continue for 2 miles to the junction of the Windy Gap Trail. Turn left and follow the Windy Gap Trail for 2 1/2 miles to the trailhead at the Crystal Lake Recreation Area.
Both Mt. Hawkins and South Mt. Hawkins were named for Nellie Hawkins, a waitress during the early years of this century at Squirrel Inn (Later called Hotel Coldbrook and still later Camp Coldbrook), where Coldbrook Campground is now located.
Tom Chester & Jane Strong -- http://tchester.org/