Nineteenth century mountaineers named this mountaintop spire after its uncanny resemblance to an upside-down strawberry. The ascent of Strawberry Peak is historically one of the most famous hikes due to its two scenic routes: the Colby Canyon Trail, which climbs up a canyon stream and the Strawberry Peak Trail that traverses along the ridge. The popular Colby Canyon route was closed in recent years after a rock flow mangled large portions of the trail, but, as of December 2014, the trail is open and in great condition.
What Makes It Great
The 6165 ft. Strawberry Peak can be quite the trek but the two access points, beginning from different elevations, make it ideal for a variety of hikers. The Strawberry Peak trailhead begins at the Red Box station, where Angeles Crest Highway meets the Mt.Wilson/Red Box Road, while the Colby Canyon trailhead is back down the Angeles Crest Highway at a topographic low (0.8 miles east of the Angeles Forest intersection). Since the Strawberry Peak trail begins 4500‘ and the Colby Canyon at 3500’, trail users can choose the route with their desired elevations change.
The Strawberry Peak trail is quite straightforward. Depart from the Red Box parking lot, continue north along the trail and the only turn off on your left is a dead end to the summit. If you continue straight you’ll encounter Colby Canyon trail. For those starting at Colby Canyon, climb up the ridge after the switchbacks you will hit Josephine Saddle, Colby continues on your right and will hit Strawberry Peak trail. To summit turn right and keep your eyes peeled for the aforementioned summit trail. From CA-2 to Josephine saddle it is 2.2 miles of climbing and the section between Josephine is 3.2 miles, but traverses the contours with breathtaking views the throughout.
Colby is a longer hike and does show a larger variety of ecosystems and scenery. The bottom section is entirely within a drainage that is the begging of the Arroyo Seco River which showcases amazing waterfalls and amazing outcrops of metamorphosed granite. Once at the top of Josephine Saddle you traverse the peak clockwise and get views of the mountains and the desert. The pine tree growths at high elevations are quite the scene with the mountain desert as a backdrop.
Who is Going to Love It
The family will love the views on Strawberry Peak Trail and should be able to handle it with moderate fitness. Colby Canyon is ideal for a whole day out.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Red Box parking lot for the Strawberry Peak trail (at the intersection of Angeles Crest Highway and Mt.Wilson/Red Box Road). For the Colby hikers, the parking is on the north side of Angeles Crest Highways 0.8 miles east of the Angeles Forest Highway intersection- just past the turnout for Switzer falls if you’re driving up from LA.