Hiking the Dawn Mine

During the tun of the 20th century gold mining was booming in the San Gabriel Mountains. The gold rush was here. And with the excitement of making it rich, many miners and entrepreneurs took to the hills, from which they established mining claims all over the San Gabriels. The Dawn mine was one of those claims.

Hike Stats:

Distance: 6 miles

Difficulty: 3.8/10

Time: 3 hours

Elevation Gain: ~500

Shaded? Yes, plenty

Dogs Allowed?: Yes, On leash

Fees?: Adventure Pass for parking

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Trail photos:

What to expect for this hike:

  • Lots of options for shade
  • Take time to check out Millard Canyon falls in the area
  • The trail has been recently maintained, so as long as one follows the canyon up you will reach the mine
  • The mine is closed, except for a third tunnel past the Dawn Mine entrance
  • Very slippery rocks and depree

Hike Directions:

Once parked at the entrance to Millard Canyon trail in the lower lot, walk the millard canyon trail to the falls ( 1 mile). Once reaching the falls backtrack 300 feet and look for a large oak tree with a white post. Follow this trail on the left of the tree up the canyon until reaching the top of Millard Canyon falls. Continue on the trail following the stream for another 2 miles until reaching the Dawn Mine. From here the hike can be out-and-back or take the Tom Sloan trail up to Dawn Station to extend the hike further to around 8 miles out-and-back.

History of the Dawn Mine:

The Dawn Mine in Altadena was worked on for over 50 years, one of the longer and more established mining claims in the San Gabriel Mountains. Another local mine called the Big Horn Mine comes first as the largest gold mining operation in Southern California.


The Dawn Mine was established in the year 1985 and continued to be worked on until 1954. Even though the outlook of profit was promising because pockets of gold were being found during the lifespan of the mine, never enough gold was procured to keep the mine open forever. The workings and tunnels were massive though, with multiple passages, not typical for gold mines in the San Gabriel Mountains.

The Dawn Station:

The Dawn station is located off Mt. Lowe road and was once used as a resupply station or break area for hikers and mines during the mid 20th Century.

Recent closure of the mine:

In late 2017 the entrances to the mines were closed in order to protect the public. But for over 100 years these tunnels never collapsed or injured anyone. Here are some photos of the mine then and now:

 Inside the working of the mine, flooded passages and candle lit halls.

Inside the working of the mine, flooded passages and candle lit halls.

 Upper entance of the mine. Closed off to the public.

Upper entance of the mine. Closed off to the public.

Parking for this hike:

Cordinates to park: 34.216242,-118.146013 (near Millard canyon trail camp)