Hiking Project Logo

Sam Merrill Railway Ruins

 17 votes

5.3 Miles 8.6 Kilometers



1,361' 415 m


-1,361' -415 m


3,206' 977 m


1,846' 563 m



Avg Grade (6°)


Max Grade (15°)



A very popular trail; at Echo Mountain's summit, multiple trails branch out that extend your hike.

Alison Kelly


This is a great little out-and-back hike. Novice hikers, tourists and families will enjoy the wonderful views (I've seen to Long Beach from here before!) and exciting ruins at the top of Echo Mountain. Experienced hikers will enjoy the opportunity to expand the hike via spurs to Mt. Lowe, Inspiration Point, and others at the summit of Echo Mountain. Expect lots of switchbacks with some steep sections at the beginning, but the trail becomes more mellow and somewhat sheltered by scrub brush with altitude.
Features: Birding — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Dogs: Leashed

Need to Know

Bring water! The first portion with switchbacks is steep, dusty, and exposed. Beware of poison oak - it can be found along the sides of the trail for its duration.


Street parking only; be considerate of neighborhood signs noting restrictions in different areas. I like to park down the hill on Lake Avenue by the rec center; this does add another .5 mile or so in each direction, but there is reliable parking there.

The first portion of the trail is a series of mostly exposed, dusty switchbacks which rise rapidly with some steep sections. There are steep drop-offs, so novice hikers may get nervous. On clear days you'll be able to see the ocean out towards Santa Monica and clear views of downtown Los Angeles very readily on this section, so take all the breaks you need!

The middle section is wooded with scrub and live oak stands. Beware of copious poison oak along the trail, mostly in this middle and upper portion of the trail. Another good reason to keep your dog leashed!

At the top, the trail levels and broadens as you head the last 0.25 mile to the ruins. Note the multiple spurs along this section with signage and mileage to destinations such as Mt. Lowe, Mr. Lowe railway, and Inspiration Point.

The overlook at the apex of the Echo Mountain Trail is the ruins of a turn of the century tourist destination lodge and restaurant. The views are fantastic and there are fun things to do like shout into the "Echo" apparatus that really does echo wonderfully against Mt. Lowe. This is a great place to have a lunch.

Flora & Fauna

Great bird watching!

History & Background

There are ruins of a turn of the century lodge and restaurant, as well as remnants of the Mt. Lowe cog railroad which once reached the lodge (separate trails follow the former railway path).


Rate Featured Hike

   Clear Rating

4.2 from 17 votes

Get On-Trail Navigation

Send to Phone
Your Check-Ins


Jan 20, 2018
Jennifer Harmon
Jan 15, 2018
Jen Casner
Jan 14, 2018
Dylan Bainter
Fantastic hike. Didn't give myself enough time though and had to finish in the dark. 5.3mi
Jan 10, 2018
Matt LeBlanc
Aug 14, 2017
Joshua Rodriguez
Aug 12, 2017
Scott Enge
Aug 12, 2017
Brad Taylor
May 7, 2017
Ben Wilson
Beauty! Easy cool day w/ C 6.6mi

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 17 votes


  4.2 from 17 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star


in California


85 Views Last Month
1,110 Since Apr 14, 2015
Intermediate Intermediate



Getting forecast...

Derek Hewitt
Los Angeles, CA
Derek Hewitt   Los Angeles, CA
This is one of my favorite hikes I've done in the LA area. The views of the city are awesome. The ruins at the top are better. The echo phone and old rail car americana are just fantastic. It's a solid workout to the top. Not a ton of shade. Great hike! Dec 14, 2017

Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking