I already shared how it went at the peak in my last post. But there was more to this hike than the misunderstanding we had. So here is the rest of the story with a complete hiking guide for the Strawberry Peak hike.
At 6,165 ft (1,879 m), Strawberry Peak is a prominent landmark when you drive through the front range of the Angeles National Forest on CA-2 or when you hike in the neighboring mountains.
This hiking guide begins from the Strawberry Peak trailhead near Palmdale, CA across from Red Box Picnic Area (known as Red Box to the LA hikers). Strawberry Peak can be reached in multiple ways, but this is the most direct way to climb to Strawberry Peak as far as I know.
After parking at Red Box, walk toward the north. You will see the “Strawberry” trail sign across from the picnic area. Cars and motorcycles fly by here so be very careful when you cross.
The trail stays pretty much parallel to CA-2 in the first 0.5 miles then when you begin to wonder how long you would have to listen to the motorcycles zoom by, the trail finally turns towards the northwest away from the road.
The dense dirt trail and the gradual incline make this trail great for trail running in the first 2 miles.
There is a couple of narrow spots with a steep drop-off, but it is definitely doable. If you are afraid of heights, although the canyon view is impressive in this section, avoid taking in the entire view, so you don’t overwhelm your senses. Try to keep your eyes only focused right in front of your shoes where your next step would be.
Enjoy the easy terrain and the gradual incline with a fantastic canyon view while it lasts because that will end soon. 🙂
At the 2.3-mile mark, we reached the Strawberry Peak sign below. While the Strawberry Peak Trail continues on straight, you will need to take this side trail to the peak. This trail is not in Google Maps just so you know. From here, your legs will need to work hard for the incredible views. I packed away my DSLR, so I don’t bang it on a rock by accident. Besides, the views are better on the way down when your head is not feeling dizzy from an uphill workout.
Hang in there. The trail goes up and down a few times before you reach the peak. I was glad it was still overcast. This part of the hike is exposed entirely so it can get hot even in winter if there is no cloud which is not uncommon in Southern California. The sky didn’t clear up until we reached the top. Good timing.
Sign in in the summit register.
BEFORE: When you just found out there is no real strawberry at Strawberry Peak.
AFTER: Treats are great for cheering up a disappointed pup.
The sun was out, and so were the fire ants! They began to bother Xena. It was time for us to head back. Besides, both Xena and I don’t handle heat well so when there is no shade, I feel like we are on a timer. I pulled my camera out from my backpack and got ready for the stunning descent.
When you are ready, go back down the way you came up. Like I said, the views are even better on the way down.
Only the brave can traverse the forest of spiky yucca plants. That’s what I tell myself to gain the strength I need anyhow. Do you see those green pom-pom looking bushes? They might look friendly and even cute from the photos, but let me tell you they wait for me with a wicked smile. They poke you through your pants and enjoy the pain they cause you. They are mean.
Now back to the beautiful scenery. If you look closely, you can spot two hikers in the center of the photo. That’s where we were heading too.
I am pretty sure that was the fastest 7-mile hike we’ve ever done. Fire ants were ruthless at Strawberry Peak that day. After getting a couple of bites on the same paw, Xena was limping around and was noticeably under stress. It was too late for the previous bites, but she didn’t get any more after she had her bootie on. She finished the hike with a limp like a trooper.
This was our 2nd time hiking to Strawberry Peak. Our first time was a year ago, and I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t think I would be back. This time though, even with the fire ants, it was a much nicer hiker than I remembered. I am warming up to Strawberry Peak.
You can add Mt Lawlor to this hike or begin the hike from the Josephine Peak trailhead or from the Colby Canyon trailhead to extend this hike if you feel adventurous. With options to extend the hike, I think Strawberry Peak makes a good training hike regardless of what you are training for. It will challenge your endurance and strength in short 7 miles.
Good to Know:
- Hike Date: 11.4.18
- Distance: 7 miles RT
- Elevation Gain: 1,640 ft
- Strawberry Peak sits at 6,165 ft (1,879 m)
- Difficulty Level: Challenging
- Trailhead: 34.258730, -118.104400
- Vault toilets available at Red Box Picnic Area
- Permit/Fee: National Forest Adventure Pass ($5/daily, $30/annual, A second vehicle pass is also available for $5 with the purchase of an annual pass)
- Parking: Red Box Picnic Area