California Native Plant Society
San Gabriel Mountains Chapter

Mill Creek Summit to Mt. Gleason

This location covers some of the higher elevations at the western extremity of the San Gabriel Mountains.

We begin at Mill Creek Summit (4,900 ft), on the short interpretive trail to the lookout, which is a good place to see several manzanitas, including the San Gabriel Manzanita (Arctostaphylos gabrielensis).

Then we explore Mt. Gleason Road, following the ridge line all the way to Mt. Gleason (6,500 ft), with views sometimes to the west and sometimes to the east. A particular botanical attraction in this area is the Mt. Gleason paintbrush, which is our chapter logo, but there is also a good variety of other subalpine flora. The date was late April.

After passing a correctional facility (via a gravel road that detours around one side of the facility) the road ascends Mt. Gleason itself, where there is a disused microwave communications tower.

Click on the thumbnails to see higher-resolution images, 720 x 480 pixels.


Mill Creek Summit Parry's manzanita Parry's manzanita Parry's manzanita Bigberry manzanita

Entrance to Mill Creek picnic ground

Flowers (L) and the whole tree/shrub (R) of Parry's manzanita (Arctostaphylos parryana), common at Mill Ck summit

Comparing Parry's manzanita (A. parryana) (L) and Bigberry manzanita (A. glauca) (R). Parry's has a bright green leaf. Glauca has a whitish-green leaf, and very sticky, green fruit. The Parry's fruit is shiny, red, non-sticky (L). Glauca fruit will later turn red like a “little apple”, its common name in Spanish.

Woodpecker holes
Mountain sagebrush
Mountain sagebrush

Skunkbush (Ribes trilobata)

Woodpecker holes in a tree trunk

Mountain Sagebrush (Artemesia tridentata ssp. vaseyana). The inflorescense rises above the foliage, and is not intermingled within it.

Ceanothus greggii
Ceanothus greggii
Bigberry manzanita
Bigberry manzanita

Mojave ceanothus (Ceanothus greggii)

Sugar bush (Rhus ovata)

Trunk with magnificent bark on Bigberry manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca), Mill Ck interpretive trail

San Gabriel manzanita
San gabriel manzanita
San Gabriel manzanita
Two manzanitas
Bigberry manzanita

San Gabriel manzanita (Arctostaphylos gabrielensis), one of the rare plants at Mill Creek Summit. Distinguishing features: relatively open flowers (L), erect nature of the tree (M), ground-level burl (R). The flowers here are white, but had become characteristic pink when seen one week later.

Left: Parry's manzanita (A. parryana) with Bigberry manzanita (A. glauca) slightly behind. Right: A very large Bigberry manzanita (A. glauca).

  Lookout at Mill Creek Summit Coastal cloud bank  

View at Mill Creek Summit lookout, showing Angeles Forest Hwy, Strawberry Peak in the background

Close-up of Strawberry Peak, with cloud bank of the coastal fog and smog oozing up from L.A.


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Alisio Canyon Popcorn flower Pine bluegrass Gilia species Douglas fir

Aliso Canyon from Mt. Gleason Road

Popcorn flowers (Cryptantha sp.)

PIne bluegrass
(Poa secunda)

Gilia flowers scattered along the road

Bigcone Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga macrocarpa)

Coulter pine
Miner's lettuce
Bajada lupine
Mt. Gleason paintbrush
Mt. Gleason paintbrush

Coulter pine (Pinus coulteri)

Miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata mexicana)

Bajada lupine (Lupinus concinnus)

Mt. Gleason Paintbrush (Castilleja gleasonii)

Blazing star
Gilia splendens

Veatch's blazing star (Mentzelia veatchiana)

Hairy lotus (Lotus strigosus)

Splendid gilia (Gilia splendens, aka Saltugilia splendens) (L, and an unidentified Gilia (R)

Southern umbrellawort (Tauschia arguta)

Martin's paintbrush
Martin's paintbrush
Strawberry Peak

Interior bush lupine (Lupinus excubitus var. johnstonii) — CNPS rare plants list 4.3

Martin's paintbrush (Casilleja applegatei ssp. martinii)

Looking back from the base of Mt. Gleason

Golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum)

Chaparral Yucca (Yucca whipplei)

L: Strawberry Peak. R: Wide-angle view from Strawberry Peak at the right to beyond Mt. Waterman at the left. Twin Peaks is visible to the right of Mt. Waterman.

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Images © 2003-2019 Graham Bothwell.
Thanks to Jane Strong for assistance in identification of plants and flowers.