Mt Zion Loop Hike From Chantry Flat
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||9 miles (14.5 km)|
|Hike Time||4-5 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||2,740 feet (835m)|
|Highest Elevation||3,575 feet (1090m)|
|Fees & Permits||Parking Permit|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Angeles National Forest|
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.
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).
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
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.
Gaia GPS Mapping App
Smartphones are not backcountry instruments, but almost everyone has one today. And they all have GPS onboard. So I recommend getting a good GPS hiking app like Gaia GPS that supports offline maps. Just make sure to put your phone in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. GaiaGPS not only has smartphone and tablet apps, but also an online planning tool. You can drag the GPX hike tracks from my (or any) guides into the online map and they will sync to your phone. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get up to 40% off here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated July 2021.
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.
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.
How are you going to navigate this hike?
To start, you should always have a paper map and compass. And it helps to print this guide out or save it on your phone. I highly recommend a GPS as well. I use the Garmin Fenix 6 Smart GPS watch ( REI | Amazon | My Review) with maps (or the more affordable Garmin Instinct). The GPS smartwatch is nice because it’s rugged, works if your phone dies, and also has a billion other features like sleep tracking, workout recording, etc.
Mt Zion Loop Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
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.
When you’re done at the summit, head back to the spur junction.
This guide last updated on August 30, 2020. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.
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