Altadena, Trail Guides

White City Ruins [Echo Mountain]

8 Mar , 2017   Video

Most hikes end with a rewarding view, but the Sam Merrill Trail just north of Pasadena has an added bonus: the ruins of an old resort. 😮

Approaching Echo House in an incline car. (Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library)

Back in the day (circa 1883), the Mount Lowe Railway carried tourists from Altadena, CA up the side of this mountain where there used to be a Victorian hotel called the Echo House aka the “White City.” Sadly, a fire took the house out in 1900, and the railway was abandoned in 1938 due to years of economic trouble paired with a disastrous flood.

Though short-lived, the ruins of White City still exist up in the San Gabriel Mountains at the end of this 2.5-mile hike.  And if that doesn’t impress you, the views Altadena and the San Gabriel Valley might!




SCREENSHOT THESE DIRECTIONS: Hike to the ruins of White City

  • Trailhead Address: 4100 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90056
  • Parking: Free street parking on E. Loma Alta Dr.
  • Distance: 6.2 miles there & back
  • Difficulty: 🌮🌮🌮🌮 out of 5
  • Step-By-Step Instructions: 
    1. Start at the gated (but public) entrance of the Cobb Estate aka the Haunted Forest.
    2. Walk straight down the driveway until you get to a sign.
    3. You’ll see a sign for the Sam Merrill Trail. Follow the curve to the left.
    4. Head towards the mountain along the trail. You’ll encounter switchbacks on switchbacks throughout the route as you ascend about 2.5 miles.
    5. It’ll take a little over an hour at a medium pace to reach the top.
    6. Once you near the ruins, you’ll encounter a junction marked by several signs – continue straight (sort of to the right). Don’t go left up the mountain unless you want to hike an additional 2.5 miles up to a different spot called Inspiration Point.
    7. Shortly after the junction, you should start to see artifacts from the ruins.
    8. Keep walking until you reach the crumbling walls of the Echo House.
    9. Explore the grounds! Don’t forget to yell into the echophone located up the house’s stairs and towards the mountain.


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