Mount Gleason

Mount Gleason, in the San Gabriel Mountains

I may have inwardly cringed a bit during my San Gabriel traverse last year when I claimed you could spend your whole life exploring the San Gabriel Mountains.

Really? I asked myself. Is there really that much country to wander?

Perhaps in part to answer that question, this year I've been much more willing to explore some of range's more remote corners—particularly those I've never heard of. Mount Gleason, in the northwest San Gabriels, is an excellent example of such a place.

Little Gleason and Century Plant Atop Mount Gleason Looking West from Mount Gleason's summit Mt Gleason Road and the High Desert

6520' Gleason towers over Canyon Country and the 14 freeway. You've probably seen (but not noticed) it any number of times while buzzing up to Mammoth.

With its sharp rise over the high desert, Gleason has that island-in-the-sky feel of the San Jacintos compared to the more interior character of the San G's big peaks.

I approached from the east, via Mount Gleason Road and my mountain bike. Probably, to be honest, this is not an area that's going to set most people's skivvies sizzling, but I have to say I loved it.

First of all, it's just so damn big out there. I have spent decades hiking and skiing the San Gabriels, and yet here's another gigantic patch of it where I've previously never set foot.

From Gleason's summit, I saw quite a few unknown peaks and canyons, all well-deserving of further investigation—and I also took note of some truly grinding hike-or-bike possibilities bisecting the range to the south.

As with many of the off-the-beaten-path parts of the range, the area is shockingly remote despite its proximity to metro Los Angeles. So, a warning: if you're tempted to explore Gleason and its surroundings, be mindful of how exposed you are (especially to heat) and try to keep your plans conservative.

It looks like you can get to Gleason's summit from all four directions, with the east approach (parking at Mill Creek Summit) the easiest. The western approach, especially with a mountain bike, seems promising. Anything from the south looks like an absolute bear.

— June 6, 2024

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents

missy June 17, 2024 at 11:57 am

You really captured how it feels like to be lost at Mount Gleason. It really is so close yet so far. After 2009, the gate was closed forever. It wasn't until recently that the gate would randomly start being left open. It was truly magical to see the unending views to the desert and front country. It also has so much history.