54-4 and 54-5 Charlton Flat to Mt. Mooney and Devil Peak

Participant: Jane Strong
Date: 11 September 1999

Trail map

Overview: Three outstanding features make this trail worthwhile: the scope of the view of the Devil's Canyon in the San Gabriel Wilderness, the size of the cones of the Coulter pines, and the refreshing sound of the wind rustling through the trees.

Directions: From SR2, the Angeles Crest Highway, turn left at the entrance to the Charlton Flats Picnic Area. Park in front of the restrooms. Trail begins at the dirt road across the street to the right of the sanitary disposal station.

Distance: Round trip is +4 miles. You can drive up to the T where the trails to the mountain peaks start or you can walk up this access road, less than one mile one way from the picnic area, which is what I did.

Elevation Change: +500' from Charlton Flat to Mt. Mooney, 5,840' and Devil Peak, 5,870'

Season: All year

Weather: 90° F at 12:30 pm.

Trail condition: The road from the picnic area follows a small seasonal stream and a pretty, grassy, forested hillside up to the T. It has a thin, top layer of soft dirt, easy walking for a family with a stroller or small bikes.

Turn right at the top and go around the closed gate to go to Devil Peak. Go past a better used dirt road on your right which goes to a small observatory. On the lesser used road, continue until you come to a small saddle, a wide spot where three trails meet. The left hand trail goes to a big washout. The right hand trail soon runs into brush. Take the middle trail going up the slope. There is a shot-up sign warning about underground cable on a post marking the correct direction. Once past this area, the trail, a very old road bed, is easy to follow to the peak; but is no longer suitable for a stroller or small bikes, being too rocky and too steep.

Return to the T.

At the T, to go to Mt. Mooney which is on the left, take the trail that starts behind the berm to the right of the water tank; do not follow the dirt road. The trail goes up and over many berms (maybe for erosion control?) and is steep.

Plants: Devil Peak is prime territory for Coulter pine. Here I found the biggest cones I've ever seen, with wicked scale tips like bears' claws. I think the long needles of this tree catch the wind more and intensify its sound.

This habitat is a lush example of the cold or hard chaparral: manzanita, chaparral whitethorn (ceanothus) and scrub and canyon oak.

Blooming now on the open areas on Mt. Mooney: goldenbush, rabbitbrush, reddish-purple aster, Great Basin sagebrush. Past blooming are scarlet bugler, lessingia, woolstar, pale lavender daisy, California buckwheat, thistle, yerba santa.

Bracken fern is turning yellow along the stream, soon to be followed by the willows.

Bugs: Yes, bothersome all over, except in the open areas on Mooney.

Wildlife: The road has many tracks on the soft edges: mule deer, bobcat, coyote (scat, as well), skunk and raccoon. Birds in the trees: juncos, chickadees, black-throated gray warblers, acorn woodpeckers, scrub jays.

Views: The view of the Devil's Canyon as you walk along the trail to Devil Peak is magnificent. Your eye will be drawn to it again and again. In contrast to the view to the west, this one looking east has no marks of man - no TV antennae, no firebreaks, no road cuts. You see the backsides of Waterman Mountain and Twin Peaks in all their pristine glory and from an angle I don't think you can get elsewhere. Atop Devil Peak, you can see all the tall peaks - Baldy, Greyback, Sanjac, Saddleback.

From Mooney, you can look south to Devil Peak, northwest over the Tujunga drainage section of the San Gabriels, and when coming down, look east so as not to miss the beautiful view of Twin Peaks framed by tall trees.

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Copyright © 1999-2001 by Jane Strong.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Jane Strong
Last update: 21 August 2001