New Pasadena Transit Route 88 provides weekend connection between Gold Line and Sam Merrill Trailhead

A new transit option to help connect you to nature is coming very soon!

Pasadena Transit is launching Route 88, a weekend bus service that will run between the Gold Line’s Memorial Park Station and the busy Sam Merrill Trailhead in Altadena starting Saturday, April 7. The bus will run every weekend throughout this summer as a local service with stops in Pasadena and Altadena. There is limited street parking near the trailhead, so this is a great way to go hiking without the hassles of driving, traffic and parking.

EDIT: To celebrate launch, rides on Route 88 will be FREE opening weekend, April 7 and 8!

The Sam Merrill Trailhead is the access point to the Echo Mountain and Inspiration Point trails, as well as many other trails leading deeper into the San Gabriel Mountains. The almost three-mile hike leads to the remains of an old hotel and the long-gone Mt. Lowe Railway that connected the top of Echo Mountain to the Alpine Tavern on the flanks of Mt. Lowe.

Travel time to the trailhead via bus is approximately 23 minutes. Buses will leave every half hour from the northbound Raymond/Holly stop — right around the corner from Memorial Park Station — between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The last bus will depart from the trailhead at 5 p.m.

The bus drops riders off at the corner of Lake and East Loma Alta. From there, walk through the stone and metal gate on the east side of Lake. If Echo Mountain or Inspiration Point is your goal, walk up the short paved driveway and when it makes a hard left, go straight and pick up the dirt hiking path that descends into a wash and climbs back up.

Check out our video above with Modern Hiker‘s Casey Schreiner as we explore the trip and the trail! Casey provides a few pointers for casual hikers and talks about the transit history of the trail. When it was in operation, the Mt. Lowe Railway was considered one of the wonders of our region.

This hike, which takes about 50 to 90 minutes each way (depending on your speed) is one of the most popular in the area and offers great views of downtown Los Angeles, a broad swath of the Southland and on clear days the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. It gets a little steep in some parts, but it’s not a hard climb. The video below shows what you’ll see and what used to be atop Echo Mountain.

A transfer from Metro Rail to Pasadena Transit is 50 cents. Regular Pasadena Transit fare is 75 cents for adults, 50 cents for youth and 35 cents for seniors 60+, then it’s 25 cents to transfer back to Metro. You can pay with cash or use stored value loaded on your TAP card.
Route 88 is a welcome new option, but if you’re looking for a bus connection to the trail during the weekday, try Metro Bus 260, which also connects with the Gold Line at Memorial Park Station. Take the bus to Fair Oaks/Wapello, then walk northeast on Loma Alta Dr. for approximately one mile. Or take Metro Bus 180/181 to Altadena/Lake and then walk about one mile north on Lake Avenue to the trailhead. Please note: you’ll be walking in the parking lane much of the way. You can also take the Gold Line to the Lake Avenue stop and use a ride sharing service from there.
Route 88 is a demonstration project that is the result of a coordinated effort by the city of Pasadena, Los Angeles County Supervisor Barger, the Trust for Public Land and The Wilderness Society. The project is being funded by the Office of Supervisor Barger, the city of Pasadena and a grant from Edison International. 

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