Islip Saddle to Little Jimmy Trail Camp via the PCT

Hippie Surplus Off Grid

We spent our Fourth of July weekend 7,500 feet above sea level in Angeles National Forest. We took the 2 from La Canada into the mountains about 45 miles until the road is blocked off at Islip Saddle parking lot. From here it is a 2.1 mile hike to Little Jimmy Trail Camp, gaining most of 780 feet of elevation in under 1 mile.

USGS topographical map of the area. 

The trail starts off across the street from the Islip Saddle parking lot, going SOBO on the scenic Pacific Crest Trail. Having been mildly obsessed (maybe an understatement) with the PCT for a little over a year, I was ecstatic to finally be able to backpack a section of it.

My cousin Andrew and I at the trail head posing with the PCT trail marker. Notice how his shirt says “May the forest be with you”….it’s a pretty rad shirt.

The initial portion of the hike includes a few switch back into a meadow where you head up and then to the left, into the shade of the giant pines. By this time in the hike we were already huffing and puffing and definitely very grateful to be out of the sun. Continuing up the trail we met several other hikers who were also taking breaks from the steep climb of the trail. This made us feel a little better about being so out of shape and seeing their trekking poles was torture. Never in my life had I wanted them more, and the hiking sticks we found did not do them justice.

Taking several breaks along the way we continued to climb the trail, winding through the mountains. To the right of us was the sturdy side of the mountain and to the left of us was the edge, falling further and further down the more elevation we gained. At 1 mile we hit a sign saying there was just 1.1 miles left until camp and continued on up, grateful for a more level trail.

At 2.1 miles we ran into Little Jimmy Trail Camp, a trail camp of 16 sites with several of them hidden throughout the area. We we’re lucky enough to have most of the campground to ourselves which meant prime site choice. We chose a campsite on top of a hill that did not include a picnic table purely for the view. We did, however, have a very nice log which Andrew enjoyed napping on thoroughly.

Andrew taking a well deserved nap on the log.

Andrew setting up his tent while Jacob gets comfortable.

The view from our camp at 7,800 elevation. You can see the Mojave desert in the distance. 

After a small a short nap and munching of trail mix we made our way through Little Jimmy to the Mt. Islip trail. Mount Islip sits at 8,250 feet and the trail from Little Jimmy is 1.2 miles to the summit, making it a 2.4 mile out and back trip. The trail begins through the forest and quickly begins the ascent up the side of the mountain. This time we only took a couple rest stops towards the summit when the trail began to get steep.
The view of the trail ahead of us, hiking to the summit of Mt. Islip.

Jacob and I, posing with the view just before the actual peak of Mt. Islip.

Andrew posing from the top of some boulders next to the trail. I was secretly freaking out when he     was climbing down…..

Finally! We got to the peak of Mount Islip with a grandeous view….minus the smog. This is the first official mountain we had ever summited, and we were pretty stoked to sign the register at the top.

     Me deciding what to write in the register…

Looking out to see other trails riding the peaks of the mountains.

                        No caption needed…

Jacob posing with the shelter looking quite sunburned per usual.

Two happy hippies hiking *gasp* DOWN instead of up!

After making it back to our base camp we quickly devoured our quick to serve freeze dried meals. I’ll note that we were so hungry that we could not even let the meals cool completely before scarfing it down. After only 4.3 miles of hiking and about 2,000 feet of elevation gain, we were exhausted.

Before the we relaxed we made our way to Little Jimmy Springs which is located about .6 miles away from the camp SOBO on the PCT, going towards Windy Gap.

Where the trail split off. To the left is to the springs, to the right takes you further on the PCT towards Windy Gap.

                           Little Jimmy Spring

Here is Little Jimmy Spring, a great place to re-up on water and wash yourself off a bit. After doing a lot of reading I had decided that we did not need to filter this water before drinking, however the PCT hikers we ran into did filter it before drinking. The water was crystal clear in my Nalgene and was ice cold, which was very refreshing. We never did get sick from the water, and came back multiple times throughout the weekend to replenish our water supply.

A hollowed out tree near Little Jimmy Springs.

We spent the rest of the night playing cards around the fire and discussing the crazy world we live in.

Beautiful sunset from our camp.

I think we’re happiest in places like these or the desert….

The next day we hiked all the way back down to Islip Saddle to hike our other friend Jayden into camp. We called the mission Saving Private Jayden. Thankfully we did not have to hike with full packs on which made it quite a bit easier than our initial hike in. We spend the rest of the weekend playing cards, talking, and relaxing in the peace and quiet of the back country.

While we only hiked about 5 miles the first day, including the trip to the springs, it was still enough to kick my butt. Being our first backpacking trip this was an excellent choice in trail as it had amazing views, a pretty good elevation gain, and wasn’t too far away from the car. It definitely fueled my love and passion for the outdoors, the PCT, and backpacking in general. I’m hoping to do several more trips soon and eventually a thru hike such as the John Muir Trail or the High Sierra Trail. There’s just something about having all that you need on your back and the quiet sound of the wind blowing through the tree’s….I’m hooked.
Til next time!


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