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El Prieto to Brown Mountain Loop

  3.8 ( 11 ) Favorite


8.2 mile 13.2 kilometer loop


Ascent: 1,254' 382 m
Descent: -1,254' -382 m
High: 2,385' 727 m
Low: 1,152' 351 m


Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 17% (10°)


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Trail shared by Justin Jasper

A challenging wooded climb, great views, and a fast descent.

Justin Jasper

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


The best moderate loop in the Pasadena/Altadena front range of the San Gabriels. Although the El Prieto climb is a bit challenging, it's wooded, crosses multiple streams, and is pretty. The descent on Brown Mountain Road and Fern Truck Trail isn't too steep, has nice views, and can be done pretty fast.

Need to Know

Rocky, rooty, and a challenging uphill.


From the parking lot near the JPL entrance, follow the paved trail that turns to a dirt road for about 1.25 miles. Take the right fork towards El Prieto/Brown Mountain for about 0.25 miles, then stay right onto El Prieto.

Follow this steep trail for about 2 miles until you reach Brown Mountain Fire Road. Turn left here and climb up to the saddle between Brown Mountain Fire Road and Fern Truck Trail. Descend down Fern Truck Trail (also called Brown Mountain; the left-most trail when you reach the saddle) back to the junction where you took El Prieto, and head back the way to came to the parking lot.

You can also do the loop in reverse, but hiking down El Prieto is a little less desirable. You can also add an out-and-back from the Brown Mountain Saddle towards Ken Burton Trail if you are looking for a longer hike. El Prieto has a few off-shoots, but they'll all reach Brown Mountain eventually.

Flora & Fauna

Might see some coyotes, deer, and rabbits.

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Aug 24, 2019
lee o'reilly
Nov 27, 2018
Kevin P
Nov 10, 2018
Alex Roy
Nov 10, 2018
May Wang
Half shaded, half exposed. The trail is popular with mountain bikers and is often singletrack. 8.2mi
Oct 7, 2018
Alvin Wong
Jun 23, 2018
Robert Z
3h 30m
May 14, 2018
Juan Landeros
Uphill thru prieto was beautiful 8.2mi
Apr 22, 2018
mona kwon

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 11 votes


in Pasadena


  3.8 from 11 votes
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in Pasadena


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142 Views Last Month
4,728 Since Nov 4, 2015



The view south towards Altadena from the Brown Mountain Saddle.
Mar 13, 2019 near La Caña…, CA
Brown Mountain Saddle looking north
Mar 13, 2019 near La Caña…, CA
Looking down El Prieto Canyon from Brown Mountain Trail.
Dec 18, 2015 near La Caña…, CA
Looking up towards Brown Mountain saddle, where Fern Truck Trail and Brown Mountain Trail split.
Dec 18, 2015 near La Caña…, CA
Singletrack towards the top of El Prieto Canyon.
Dec 18, 2015 near La Caña…, CA
About halfway up El Prieto, a shortcut to Brown Mountain Trail cuts off to the right. El Prieto continues to the left.
Dec 18, 2015 near La Caña…, CA


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