Monday, January 19, 2015

Respecting Mt. Lawler

Nobody hikes Mt. Lawlor. Everybody hikes its neighbor Strawberry Peak. Because Strawberry Peak is taller. And sexier. And better looking. Strawberry Peak is Santa Barbara while Mt. Lawlor is Bakersfield. The Rodney Dangerfield of the San Gabriels. It is so disrespected that apparently, the peak-naming Gods couldn't even get the spelling of its namesake right--Lawler instead of Lawlor.

I'm not really sure why. I've been to Strawberry Peak and the route is fun and the views are good, but still. How much better could it be than Lawlor, especially if you're coming from the east? On Sunday, I set out to answer that question.

View West down the ACH from 12W05.2 at Lawlor's South Ridge

Mt. Lukens to the West

Josephine Peak from 12W05.2
By the number of folks scaling Strawberry that day, you would assume the answer would be "a lot." The parking lot at Red Box was stuffed with cars. A steady stream of folks populated the well-maintained and gently ascending trail between the trailhead and the Strawberry-Lawlor saddle. The saddle itself was crowded with about twenty or so hikers from a Korean hiking club who had just come off Strawberry's east ridge and were yammering away, presumably about their adventure.

Trail 12W05.2 Cutting Across Lawlor's Rugged South Face

Looking North from the Strawberry-Lawlor Saddle
Beginning of Route Up Lawlor's West Ridge
But I didn't find Lawlor to be less worthy of attention. The faint use trail from the saddle that haphazardly zig-zags its way up the steep west ridge offers some fun class 2 scrambling. The flat summit, offers unobstructed views into the West Fork watershed, north to Barley Flats, and east toward Mt. Baldy and beyond. And the summit offers relative sanctuary far from the madding crowds who congregate on Strawberry to the immediate west. The register, which is located in the only visible cluster of rocks on the summit, revealed that it had been a week since the last hiker had visited.

Apparently, there is an alternate route to Lawlor's summit that involves ascending (or descending) Lawlor's steep south ridge. Looking at that supposed route on Google Earth, you can see what looks like a faint firebreak leading along Lawlor's south spine from the summit to its intersection with trail 12W05.2. I looked at that ridge from up top and again from below and I'm not inclined to go that way as it is very steep and choked with a lot of sharp, pointy plant thingies that would make this option a suffer-fest. I spoke to a Korean hiker back at Red Box who had broken from the group to ascend Lawlor and descend this route and he confirmed that it was a steep, loose, brushy slog.

Mt. Baldy from Lawlor's Summit

Mt. San Jacinto in the Distance

Telescopes Atop Mt. Wilson

Strawberry Peak, that Sexy Bitch

Pacifico to the North

Barley Flats with Waterman and the Twins in the Rearground

Twin Peaks from Lawlor's Summit

From L-R, Mt. Wilson, Occidental Peak, San Gabriel Peak, and Mt. Disappointment


  1. I'd say the views are commendable and you did it justice!

    1. Hey thanks for stopping by Renel. Much appreciated. It ain't the Wasatch, but it's still awesome.

  2. Way to give Lawlor some love! The summit isn't much, but the views are great.

    1. I was following in your footsteps Sean. The TR you posted awhile back on the SGMDF was my inspiration to go check Lawlor out. Nice little peak.