- Home - Hiking Trails - LA Mountain Hikes Mt Wilson Hike From Chantry Flat
In This Guide How to Get to the Mount Wilson Hike Mount Wilson Trail Maps Checking Out the Mount Wilson Observatory Turn by Turn Hike Directions What You Need To Do the Hike Distance 14.5 miles (23.3 km) Time 7:30 hours Difficulty Hard Total Climbing 4,110 feet (1253m) Dog Friendly Leashed Park Angeles National Forest Park Phone 626-574-1613
Mt Wilson, at 5,710 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.
And if you’re a history or military buff, Mt Wilson is named after
General Patton’s grandfather. 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. 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. The Chantry Flat parking area opens at 6am and fills up quickly. You might have to drive down the road to park if the lot is full. There are basic bathrooms at Chantry Flat.
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.
Here’s what I bring:
If you want hiking gear recommendations, check out my full gear list . I only recommend and review gear that I actually use. No company pays me to push their product. Everything on my gear list is battle tested on the trails, and should work well for you too. See The Gear I Use
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. The views are great. And you’ll have a sense of pride having walked up Mt Wilson as you brush elbows with tourists who took their cars. Mt Wilson From Chantry Flat Trail Maps
I highly recommend bringing some form of paper map with you, and then using it in conjunction with a GPS device.
You can see the navigation gear that I use here (I’m currently using the Fenix 5x and love it). Just download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS. Download the Hike GPX File View a Printable PDF Hike Map The Mt Wilson hike from Chantry Flat is a nice loop that has tree cover for most of the way. It’s a good hike to do on hot days because of the shade. Aside from a little dip at the start and end, the hike climbs steadily toward the Mt Wilson summit. Take your time and pace yourself. Mt Wilson From Chantry Flat Hike Directions The trail starts on the forest road at the entrance to the Chantry Flat parking lot. There’s no mention of the Mt Wilson trail on this sign. Don’t worry, this route will get you there. Hike down the paved road. Some inspiration for your hike. At about 0.6 miles, you get to the bottom. Hike across the bridge. There are bathrooms at this big trail junction. Take the Gabrielino trail towards Mt Wilson. This is the Gabrielino trail entrance. The Gabrielino Trail winds its way up Santa Anita Wash, past dams and private cabins. More hiking wisdom. At about 1.4 miles, hike to the left. Right after the turn, the Gabrielino Trail splits. Hike right to the lower Gabrielino Trail. The lower Gabrielino Trail follows the Santa Anita wash again, this time with great views along the cliff. At about 2 miles, the trail crosses a rock pile. Watch out for poison oak here. At about 2.2 miles, hike across the stream. At about 2.4 miles, you reach the Falling Sign Junction. Hike to the right at the Falling Sign Junction. At about 2.9 miles, you reach the Cascade Picnic Area. Hike to the right, up the hill. A little after 3.5 miles, you reach Spruce Grove Campground. If you need a bathroom break, Spruce Run Campground has them. It’s also a good time to have some food before the main part of the climb. At about 3.8 miles, you reach the Sturtevant Trail junction. Hike to the left onto the Sturtevant Trail toward Mt Wilson. Shortly after the junction, the trail crosses a stream but is well marked. At about 4 miles, you reach the Upper Zion Trail Junction. Continue hiking straight toward Mt Wilson. This is the sign at the Upper Zion Trail Junction. Sturtevant Camp, also at the junction, is a cool little resort in the middle of the forest. Save it for your next visit and keep hiking on the Sturtevant Trail. After climbing a bit, the trail enters a rock field. Keep to the left to stay on the trail. Now you climb. This is the steepest mile or two. Switchbacks ease your pain as you climb toward Mt Wilson. Almost there! At about 5.3 miles you arrive at the sign. Keep hiking toward Mt. Wilson, the toughest part is behind you. The views start opening up as you approach the Mt Wilson summit. The Mt Wilson summit! You’ll arrive here at around 6.8 miles. The Mt Wilson summit is a big complex that includes the observatory, radio antennas, and the tourist areas. When the trail ends, make the right to check out the big white structure. Check out the Mt Wilson Observatory. There is a visitors center in the big, 100 inch telescope building. After checking out the 100 inch telescope, head across the little bridge. Make the right after the bridge and head straight down the road to the other side of the Mt Wilson summit. The Astronomical Museum is on the road and worth a stop if that’s your thing. Ignore the turn for the Rim Trail and keep hiking down the road. After reaching the big parking lot, head to the left where it says additional parking for the tourist area. There are bathrooms here. There are water fill stations here. Fill your hydration system for the trip back down. Grab a bite at the Cosmic Cafe to fuel up for the rest of the hike. The PBJS sandwich did the trick for me. Enjoy the Mt Wilson summit views of LA as you have a bite. Head back to the big parking lot and check out the views. You can see all the way to Catalina on a clear day. Okay, let’s head back down. This is a little tricky. Avoid the trail by the USGS marker, and instead take the trail by the Mt Wilson Trail sign in the middle of the lot. The Mt Wilson trail sign is at the midpoint of the parking lot. Enjoy a few hours of decent as the Mt Wilson Trail heads back down the mountain. As you hike down the Mt Wilson Trail, there are great views of LA. Don’t forget to look down too! Lots of critters around here. At about 8.4 miles, the Mt Wilson Trail arrives at the Mt Wilson Toll Road. Hike to the left onto the Mt. Wilson Toll Road. Continue down the old Mt Wilson Toll Road. It first opened in 1891 and charged hikers 25 cents to hike up to Mt Wilson. A landslide in 2005 closed it for a while, and you can still see remnants of rock slides and washouts. At about 8.9 miles, make the left onto the Mt Wilson Trail. Keep your eye out for mountain bikers coming from behind, especially as you head onto the narrower Mt Wilson Trail. Head straight down the Mt WIlson Trail, avoiding any side trails. Enjoy yourself as the the trail seems to descend for miles and miles. You earned it. At about 9.5 miles, there’s an unmarked junction. Hike to the left, which is the Winter Creek Trail. You’ll take Winter Creek Trail back toward Chantry Flat. A trail post at the unmarked junction tells you the correct direction for the Winter Creek Trail. Enjoy more miles of descending as the Winter Creek Trail heads down towards Chantry Flat. Keep heading downward and avoid any small side trails that head up. At about 11.9 miles, the Winter Creek Trail splits. Make the left for the shorter and more scenic Lower Winter Creek Trail. Continue down the Lower Winter Creek Trail, and at 12.2 miles, you reach the Lower Zion Trail Junction. Hike to the right and stay on Lower WInter Creek Trail toward Chantry Flat. As you descend along the creek, you’ll notice the dams that you saw when you started the hike earlier. The trail goes through the Hoegee Campground. Walk through the campground to find the trail. The scenery on this part of the trail is really nice. Soak it in, the hike is almost over. At about 13.9 miles, you reach the big junction from the beginning of the hike. Go right and back up the paved climb to the parking lot. YOU DID IT! The Mt. Wilson trail hike is no joke. 4000+ feet of climbing and 14+ miles. Go ahead and treat yourself to dessert, you just burned a billion calories. You can help other hikers. If you do this hike and something has changed, snap a few photos and email me the details. I’ll update the guide so that others can do the hike safely. You May Also Enjoy Gear I Use
Don’t waste your money on gear that’s no good, I’ve done that for you. All my picks are solid choices that will serve you well on the trail.
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Cris Hazzard, and I want to help you enjoy the outdoors. I'm sharing my knowledge, guides, and the gear I personally use so that you can go out, have fun, and be safe. Was This Guide Helpful?
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