Trail Warrior (n.)- a person who dominates each challenge that any trail thrown at them. Incline, terrain, weather, exposure. Sentence: “Did you hear about the Fleet Feet Burbank Trail Warriors? We should go and check out that group!”
This has to be one of the coolest running programs that Fleet Feet has to offer. Each Sunday during the month of August, Fleet Feet Burbank offers up a different trail in the greater LA area to explore. If you participate, you even get a cool t-shirt! Here’s a breakdown of each trail we hit. (Note: I was out of town for the first trail so I’ll only be recapping 3 of 4).
Trail #1- Strawberry Peak
I’ve done this trail multiple times and it has to be one of my favorites. Here’s why…
1. The scenery is absolutely stunning.
2. There’s hardly ever anyone on the trail.
3. The terrain has a steady incline but not so much that it’s extremely challenging.
A group of us had been camping up in the Angeles National Forest since the Friday before the run and this trail was perfect since it was only a half hour drive down the Angeles Crest Highway. The Strawberry Peak trail head is located right across the street from the Red Box ranger station on the Angeles Crest Highway. You’ll need an Adventure Pass to park in that lot and those are available at the ranger station or you can buy ahead of time at Sport Chalet. All of our runs started at 7:30am sharp which meant that we needed to arrive around 7 to get prepped. Needless to say, it was early. Mizuno was the show sponsor for this run so we strapped on some kicks and headed out.
The first mile is a pretty steady climb with about 400ft of elevation gain and pretty exposed. On a hot day, you definitely need to bring ALOT of water and nutrition. After the first mile, it starts to level out into some rolling hills with a really slight climb and a one of the coolest views of the SoCal mountains.
Since we were with a big group and not everyone was used to running trails, we did not go all the way to the peak. After about 2.5 miles of running, we came to a junction and decided to head back to the ranger station. It was getting hot but fortunately, the way the trail hugs the mountainside, we stayed pretty covered. Another great run in the books!
Trail #2 Chantry Flats
I love this area. It’s one of the few places that look and feel like running in the woods on the east coast. Heading out towards Pasadena again and exit Santa Anita Ave and take it straight up into the mountains. When the road ends, you’ll see the parking lot. FYI, you’ll need an adventure pass for this one too. Another early morning start and before I knew it, we were off. The only setback about this trail is the half mile long paved road that takes you down into the canyon. It’s great for starting off because it’s downhill the whole way but after running miles in the woods, you have to eventually climb back out. Fortunately, we did a certain loop that dropped out on top of the parking lot so we didn’t have to endure this last hill.
This trail was harder than most because of the gradual climb out of the canyon that we just defended (via that paved trail). The scenery is absolutely breathtaking and it’s also perfect for a hot day. Most of this route was covered with tons of trees and greenery. It was slightly shocking how green it all was given the terrible drought we are in. The bugs were EVERYWHERE mostly because of all the water present. Drought? Not as bad as I thought. Another wonderful morning spent in the mountains with some pretty great people.
Trail #3 Echo Mountain
I’m pretty sure that I’ve told you all about Echo Mountain before. It’s a trail out in Alta Dena that I frequent. It’s a steep 2.5 mile climb up to a wonder view of SoCal. There’s some history behind it as well. See below from socalhiker.com:
Hiking Echo Mountain via the Sam Merrill Trail is a rewarding experience, rich with history. First, Echo Mountain itself is the site of the ruins of the Echo Mountain House — a hotel built in the late 1800’s by Thaddeus Lowe. There were no roads to this hotel — you reached it by an incline railway that climbed over 1,000 feet. The hotel burned to the ground in a fire, but there are remnants of the grandeur that once shone brightly atop Echo Mountain.
In the 1940s, Sam Merrill felt it was important to maintain a hiking trail to the ruins, and worked tirelessly to clear a path. As a young man, Merrill had spent time with John Muir — and the experience had a profound impact on him. And so the trail bears his name.
Pretty cool right? Here’s the view:
I love this trail because it’s easy to get to and I feel comfortable enough to go out on it solo. There’s cell reception most of the way and it’s always populated with local hikers and runners. Definitely recommend checking it out!
Thanks to Fleet Feet Burbank for the awesome trail series! We are all know proudly trail warriors.