Echo Mountain Volunteers

History of Mount Lowe Railway

Write-up courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture / Forest Service

This exotic 1890s railway once provided trolley and cable service for Los Angeles residents to nearby mountain resort areas. Built by entrepreneur T.S.C. Lowe, the railway carried its passengers up to a small city on Echo Mountain that included two hotels, a casino, observatory, residences, gardens, a small zoo, and a power plant. Another hotel complex was built further into the mountains at the Ye Alpine Tavern and was connected to Echo Mountain by a 3.5 mile railway.

Mount Lowe Trolley Car Gone to ruin in the 1930s, all that remains today of these once bustling places are foundations and walls. The railway right-of-way has become part of a road and hiking trail system. A figure 8-shaped trail, with Echo Mountain as its center, accesses the surrounding area for sightseeing. A signed, self-guided interpretive trail connects Echo Mountain with the Ye Alpine Tavern site. Brochures describing the points of interest within the Mt Lowe Railway complex are available at the Arroyo Seco District Office and at the Forest Supervisor's Office at Arcadia.


Getting There...

Best access is from the 210 Freeway in Pasadena. From the freeway, take Lake Avenue north to Loma Alta. The Cobb Estate/Sam Merrill Trailhead is at this intersection. Park and proceed east along the Lower Sam Merrill Trail for 2 miles to the top of Echo Mountain and the beginning of the Mount Lowe Railway interpretive trail. Mt. Lowe is open year round, with temporary closures at times due to snow or rain conditions.