PLEASE SUPPORT!
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat

Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat

In This Guide
  • Video & Turn by Turn Directions
  • How to Get to the Mt Zion Trailhead
  • Everything You Need to Know To Prepare for the Hike
Total Distance (?)9 miles (14.5 km)
Hike Time4-5 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Hard
Total Ascent (?)2,740 feet (835m)
Highest Elevation3,575 feet (1090m)
Fees & PermitsParking Permit
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Angeles National Forest
Park Phone747-322-6574
Follow
HikingGuy
Monthly Newsetter
YouTube
Instagram
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

The Mt Zion loop hike is a great option for those that have hiked from Chantry Flat before, maybe to Mt Wilson, but want something a little more off the beaten path. On this loop, I’ll take you on the Upper Gabrielino Trail, then on the historic Mt Zion Trail, built in 1896 and once the main trail into the area, then up to Mt Zion for panoramic views, and finally back to the start on the Upper Winter Creek Trail. And while there might be crowds on the nearby trails, this loop route on Angeles National Forest’s secondary trails offers peace and tranquility.

How to Get to the Trailhead

This hike starts at the popular Chantry Flat Picnic Area. There are popular waterfalls nearby and the parking can get crazy. Do yourself a favor and get here at sunrise. The gate to Chantry Flat opens at 6am but sometimes is open earlier. Use this trailhead address:
Chantry Flat Recreation Area, Chantry Flats Rd, Arcadia, CA 91006

You need a parks pass or Adventure Pass to park here, even if you are parking in the street overflow.

Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 2
You’ve probably been to Chantry Flat before if you’re doing this hike. Come early and avoid the crowds. There are primitive toilets here.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 47
If the lot is full you can park on the street. Just not like this guy in the no-parking zone.

Gear for the Hike

This is longer hike in the backcountry, so you’re best served by using proper hiking gear. There are some stream hops and climbs, so proper footwear and trekking poles are handy. In the summer the bugs can be intense. This route is also generally snow-free (since it’s at a lower elevation).

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

Stay Safe Out of Cell Phone Range
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 Garmin InReach Mini (REI | Amazon | My Review) fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing.

Lone Peak 5

Altra Lone Peak 5
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.

Latest Price on Women’s Shoe
REI | Amazon

Latest Price on Men’s Shoe
REI | Amazon

Black Diamond Ergo Poles 2

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.

Latest Price
REI | Amazon

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated October 2021.

My October 2021 Top Gear Picks

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 keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.

Mt Zion Loop Trail Maps

I’ve purposely routed this hike on some of the lesser-used trails in the area to give you a different experience. The first section on the Upper Gabrielino Trail offers some views of Mt Zion and distance from the crowds of people at the falls. And coming back, you’ll take the Upper Winter Creek Trail, which winds along a ridge, high above the lower trail and campsites.

Click Here To View

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.

Gaiagps

How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 6. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

Mt Zion Loop Hike Directions

It’s easy to say thank you for these free hiking guides!
I depend on your support to keep this website going and free of annoying ads, promoted posts, and sponsorships. Every contribution, big or small, is my lifeline to keep this website going. Thank you!

More Ways to Support (for Free!)

Video Directions

Watch This Video In 360/VR Why 360/VR Is Great

Turn by Turn Directions

Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 3
Hike down through the gate at the beginning of Chantry Flat.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 4
We’re heading to Sturtevant Camp in 4.3 miles, and then up to Mt Zion.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 1
Keep heading to the bottom of the paved road, passing the trail to Hermit Falls.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 5
At the bottom of the hill, head to the right and over the bridge.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 6
Once over the bridge, make the right through the big intersection. If you need to go to the bathroom, there’s one here.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 7
Head up the Gabrielino Trail from the intersection.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 8
Leave the crowds behind and hike up the Gabrielino.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 9
You’ll hike through the area with all the cabins.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 10
Make the hard left at the first junction (going straight heads to the falls).
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 12
Okay, make the hard left to head on the Upper Gabrielino Trail.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 13
The trail climbs about 400 feet in a half mile and is manageable.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 14
As the trail winds around the ridge you’ll get some views of Mt Zion.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 15
The trail has some level sections and is easy to follow.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 16
At around 2.4 miles in you’ll rejoin the lower trail at the Falling Sign Junction. Go straight.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 17
Here’s a closeup of the sign at Falling Sign Junction, which should be familiar if you’ve done the hike to Mt Wilson from Chantry Flat.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 18
The Gabrielino Trail continues uphill through the shaded Angeles National Forest.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 19
Hike through the Cascade Picnic Area.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 48
If you’re wondering about these dams that you see all through this section of Angeles National Forest, here’s the deal. In 1954, the government laid out a program to protect the property and watershed (which served LA) here. They set up a series of check dams to ease flash flooding but also to help fight fires. In subsequent floods many of the dams blew out. That, combined with new schools of thought about fire and flood prevention, led to the abandonment of the project. Chris Kasten has an interesting article on the check dams here.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 20
Cross over the creek and keep heading up the trail.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 21
Hike through the Spruce Grove campsite.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 22
After Spurce Grove you’ll leave the Gabrielino Trail by heading to the left.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 23
Here’s a closeup of the sign at that junction. We’re heading up the Sturtevant to the Mt Zion trail in 1/8th of a mile.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 24
Just past the last junction, make the left before the Sturtevant Camp sign. You can also go straight through the camp and then join the trail later if you like.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 25
Head up the trail across the stream from Sturtevant Camp.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 26
And here’s the important trail junction for Mt Zion. Look for the trail to the right up to Mt Zion.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 27
Here’s the sign at the Upper Zion Trail junction. We’re going to Mt Zion summit and then onto (upper) Winter Creek.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 28
While not a majorly popular trail, it’s still often well maintained. There might be a downed tree or branch, but they are generally cleared rather quickly.

This path was the original trail from Chantry Flat to Sturtevant Camp, built by Wilbur Sturtevant in 1896, allegedly by following the path that a bear took over the mountain to get to the camp. In the fire and subsequent landslides of 1953, most of the trail was destroyed. It was rebuilt by volunteers and reopened in 1985.

Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 29
The trail climbs for a good portion, but it’s not a huge mountain grind. You’ve done most of the climbing already.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 30
When you get to the junction with the trail history display, make the left to head up the spur trail to the Mt Zion summit.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 31
The trail to the summit can get a little narrow and overgrown, but it’s there.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 32
When you reach the clearing, you’re at the summit! It’s not a high peak but it does have about 100 feet of prominence above the surrounding terrain.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 33
To the east you can see as far as Mt Waterman and Twin Peaks.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 34
And to the west you’ll see Mt Harvard and Mt Wilson

When you’re done at the summit, head back to the spur junction.

Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 35
At the spur, make the left and start heading back to the start on the loop at Chantry Flat.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 36
The trail winds downhill as you lose about 1000 feet in a mile.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 37
The views into Santa Anita Canyon are great.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 38
When you reach the junction by Hogees Camp, make the right.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 39
After a short uphill stretch you’ll reach the junction with the Upper Winter Creek Trail, which might look familiar if you’ve come down from Mt Wilson toward Chantry Flat in the past. Go straight onto the Upper Winter Creek Trail.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 40
Here’s the sign at the trail junction. We’re heading back to Chantry Flat, about 3 miles ahead.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 41
At the beginning of the Upper Winter Creek Trail, there is some uphill hiking.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 42
But soon the trail levels off (with some small ups and downs) and winds along the ridge above the canyon.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 43
Soon you’ll hear the screams and Bluetooth speakers at Chantry Flat, which will come into view from the trail when you reach the end.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 44
The Upper Winter Creek Trail ends at the road. Go straight downhill.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 45
And look for this little side trail downhill. You can follow the winding road or cut straight down the trail back to the picnic area and parking lot.
Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat 46
When you reach the fence, hop over and head straight down to the parking lot to end the hike.

This guide last updated on August 20, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

Have an idea on how to make these guides better? Leave me your thoughts here..

Related Guides

Popular Articles