Mt Wilson Hike From Chantry Flat
|In This Guide|
|Distance||14.5 miles (23.3 km)|
|Hike Time||7:30 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||4,600 feet (1402m)|
|Highest Elevation||5,712 feet (1741m)|
|Fees & Permits||Parking Fee|
|Park Website||Angeles National Forest|
|Stay In Touch||Newsletter - Instagram - YouTube - Facebook|
Mt Wilson, at 5,712 feet, is the peak with all the radio towers that sits behind the LA skyline. It’s not the tallest peak in LA, but it’s a great hike with a fun summit. Multiple hiking trails ascend Mt Wilson. This hike starts at Chantry Flat, which gives you a gentler climb to the Mt Wilson summit, a trailhead store, bathrooms, and great views of LA on the way down. It’s a fun hike and a good long hike for beginners.
Getting to the Chantry Flat Trailhead
Use this GPS address: Chantry Flat Recreation Area, Sierra Madre, CA, 91011, USA.
The Chantry Flat parking lot fills up early. Get here as close to opening at 6am as possible to ensure that you have a spot. Some times it opens early. It’s not uncommon to have people waiting for the gate to open.
You also need a parking pass for the lot. I use the affordable National Parks Pass, which gets me in every national park, national monument, and national forest. You can also use an (Southern California only) Adventure Pass, or buy a $5 day permit from the general store in Chantry Flats.
When the lot is full, people park down on the side of the road and walk up to the trailhead.
If you want to take public transportation, there are sometimes weekend shuttles from the Arcadia Gold Line station. Check out the website or give them a call to see if it’s running when you want to go.
Gear for the Hike
Even though Mt Wilson is a beginner friendly hike, its long and you should have hiking gear, not just workout clothes. It’s rare for Mt Wilson to get snow, but it does sometimes. And in the summer, there can be thunder storms. Check the summit forecast before you go.
It also helps to have insect repellant in case the flies are out. They can get annoying.
The summit is home to Mt Wilson Observatory, where you can take a guided tour of the telescopes and grab a snack at the Cosmic Cafe. Generally when I do the hike, I skip any observatory visits but always grab a snack at the Cosmic Cafe.
I try a lot of hiking boots and shoes, and there are some great options out there, but the La Sportiva Spire is the best combination of comfort, protection, low-weight, and durability. They are waterproof, and the high cuff keeps debris out without the need for a gaiter. Time tested over thousands of miles. Use them with a two-layer sock system to end blisters for good.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
On a medium or longer hike I recommend a pack like the Osprey Talon 33 (men) or Osprey Sirrus 36 (women) which is a little bit larger. These packs are on the upper end of the (35L) daypack range, but they only weigh a small fraction more than a pack with less capacity. Having the extra space gives you more flexibility and means you don’t have to jam things in there. I use the space for things like extra layers in the winter, extra water on desert hikes, and even a tent & sleeping bag on overnights.
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI.
I’m a big fan of GPS watches (which I also use as a sleep, wellness, and fitness tracker) and my current watch is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar. I load my GPX tracks onto the watch to make sure I’m in the right place, and if not, the onboard topo maps allow me to navigate on the fly. It’s pricey but it has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of functionality. If you want something similar without the maps and big price tag, check out the Garmin Instinct which is a great buy and does a lot of the same things.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Mt Wilson From Chantry Flat Trail Maps
There are multiple routes up to the Mt Wilson summit, and this guide covers one of the most popular routes from Chantry Flats. It’s a scenic route that follows “trail trails” for most of the way and avoids wider dirt roads (aside from a few short sections).
Mt Wilson Hike From Chantry Flat Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
What to Know Before the Hike
- The dams you see throughout the hike to Mt Wilson were built in the 1960s to keep sand and rocks from traveling downstream to the larger Big Santa Anita Dam and reservoir. The paved road that the hike starts on used to head up along many of the smaller trails that you’ll hike on, and was used to bring up the cranes, cement mixers, and other trucks needed to create the dams.
- Most big dams have a smaller “sill dam” downstream that is used to protect the foundation of the larger dam upstream. When you see any lower dam missing, it means mother nature went ahead and blew it out. The first sill dams blew out in 1969 during a wet El Nino year.
- Many of the (private) cabins that you see on the hike were built in the 1910s-1920s when the U.S. Forest Service encourage people to build them. The supplies used to build them were brought in by mules, and still are today by Adams Pack Station. Over the years the elements have destroyed many cabins, and today there are less than 80 of them. You can stay in some of the ones at Sturtevant Camp.
- Mt Wilson is named after General Patton’s grandfather.
- Mt Wilson houses the Mount Wilson Observatory, and can be accessed by road as well as hiking. Don’t be shocked when you see ice cream-eating tourists at the top.
- The summit of Mt Wilson, at 5,710 feet, has unobstructed views of much of LA, and on a clear day you can see Catalina, the southern Channel Islands, and down into San Diego County.
Mt Wilson From Chantry Flat Hike Directions
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FYI I have a version of this video in 360/VR format. Not familiar with the benefits of 360 video? Then watch this.
Turn by Turn Directions
Watch out for Poodle Dog Bush in the burn areas on your way down.
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.