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).
My Goto Hiking Footwear: La Sportiva Wildcat
If you hike a lot or just want the best (but not the most durable) hiking footwear, the Wildcat trail runner is your best move. It’s fast and light on trails, the sole gives me good grip off-trail or scrambling, and they dry quickly.
Latest Price on Women’s Shoe – REI | Amazon
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Best All-Around Day Pack: Osprey Talon
I try so many backpacks and I can usually find something I love about all of them. But no matter how many I try, I always find that I come back to the Osprey Talon 33 (or for women, the Osprey Sirrus 36). It’s just the right balance between everything. You save weight because there is no frame, but the vented and padded back holds its shape, giving it a pseudo-frame. It’s big enough for long day hikes or overnighters, but when I don’t fill it on a shorter hike, it’s still nice and light. It’s got a sleeve for a hydration bladder and side pockets for Smartwater bottles. I’ve been using (and beating) the same one since 2017 and it’s still going strong.
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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.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated October 2020.
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 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.
Download the Hike GPX FileView a Printable PDF Hike Map
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). You can also use most smartphones. Check out my navigation recommendations and resources on my top gear picks page for options at all budget levels.
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.
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.