Altadena is an unincorporated area and census-designated place in Los Angeles County, California, United States, approximately 14 miles from the downtown Los Angeles Civic Center, and directly north of the city of Pasadena, California. The name Altadena derives from the Spanish alta, meaning “upper”, and dena from Pasadena; the area is adjacent to, but at a higher elevation than, Pasadena.
Christmas Tree Lane is a 0.7-mile stretch of Santa Rosa Avenue from Woodbury Road to Altadena Drive. It has been a holiday attraction since 1920, and it is the oldest large-scale outdoor Christmas lighting venue in the world. Each December, members of the Christmas Tree Lane Association festoon the 110 still standing giant deodars that line the street with thousands of Christmas lights. Christmas Tree Lane was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, and is a California Historical Landmark. Among Altadena’s Christmas lighting attractions is the Balian Mansion, which draws people worldwide for tours of its Christmas lighting display. The Balian Mansion has been lighted since 1955, and is arguably the pioneer of home holiday lighting. The Balian Mansion is located just east of Allen Avenue, at the 3-point junction of Mendocino Street, Mendocino Lane, and Glenview Terrace.
The historic Mount Lowe Railway was a scenic railway that once carried passengers to any of four resort hotels high in the San Gabriel Mountains above Altadena and Pasadena. Although the mountains and the remains of the railway are not strictly in Altadena, the most direct trail to the sites, the Sam Merrill Trail, starts in Altadena at the top of Lake Avenue, and leads to Mount Echo, about 3 miles (4.8 km). Chaney Trail, just west of the intersection at Fair Oaks Avenue and Loma Alta Street, is a forestry service road leading to the old right of way. The Mount Lowe Railway site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.
The Cobb Estate at the top of Lake Avenue is now a free botanical garden, operated by the United States Forest Service. It is guarded by its historic gates, which are easily bypassed to allow visitors and hikers to ascend its long and winding paved driveway to the site of what was once one of Altadena’s premier mansions. This site is also found alongside the Sam Merrill Trail, which accesses Las Flores Canyon on the way to Echo Mountain.
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