I love the Sam Merrill Trail. Depending on the switchback, civilization seems near...
...or very far away.
Until you get a ways up the mountain. Then everything below disappears into your note pad, your camera, your thoughts, your breathing, your stride.
The trail is open now, as is the Cobb Estate. J and I went about halfway up Echo Mountain yesterday and the skies were downright blustery. It felt good to be back on my mountain. (I share it with the Hiker.) I don't know how far you can go. Most of the Angeles National Forest is still closed (call 626-334-7582 between 7am and 7pm for specifics). But you can go for a good while.
None of Echo Mountain burned. Have at it. Pack out what you pack in. And no smoking. It's brittle as sun-dried bones up there.