Mt Wilson Trail Featured
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Los Angeles Hikes

Mt Wilson Trail Hike

  • 14.5 miles - Hard Effort
  • 6-8 Hours (Total)
  • 5,640 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 5,712 feet
  • No Dogs Allowed

The Mt Wilson Trail is the oldest route to the summit to Mt Wilson. Unlike the popular route to Mt Wilson from Chantry Flat, the Mt Wilson Trail is mellow and lacks the crowds and kids looking for the waterfall. The Mt Wilson Trail offers beautiful views as it ascends the side of Little Santa Anita Canyon, and being the oldest trail, offers some historical landmarks as well. If you've only hiked Mt Wilson from Chantry Flat, I highly recommend giving this route a try too.

In this Guide:
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions & Hike Video
  • Mt Wilson Trail Maps
  • Parking for the Mt Wilson Trail
  • Getting Ready for the Hike

How to Get to the Mt Wilson Trail

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The hike starts at Mount Wilson Trail Park. The bathroom is the building in the back.

Getting to the trailhead is relatively easy. You park on the street (for free) around Mt Wilson Trail Park and walk a few minutes up the street to the actual trailhead. The address to use is:

Mt Wilson Trail Park, 189 E Mira Monte Ave, Sierra Madre, CA 91024

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There's free street parking but you might have to walk a few minutes to the trailhead if you get here late and park farther away.

The neighborhood is residential so please be respectful of neighbors, especially if you're leaving in the early hours of the morning. There are bathrooms in the park but are sometimes locked; try to go before you arrive. There are bathrooms at the summit though.

Gear For the Hike

This is a tough, long hike and you need proper hiking gear. Bring 3L of water, snacks, and proper navigation gear. When you get to the summit you can refill your water bottles and grab a bite at the Cosmic Cafe (check the hours, open seasonally). Sometimes there can be bugs, bring some bug spray just in case.

Gear That I Love Right Now

Nothing is sponsored or promoted, just the actual gear that I use.

Gear Inreach Mini 2
Garmin InReach Mini 2Hit SOS or just tell loved ones that you're running late where your cell phone has no service.  Review here.
Gear Topo Pursuit
Topo Pursuit 2The best hiking footwear I've ever owned. No blisters. Get them wet, they dry quickly. Lots of cushion and comfort.
Gear Epix Pro Up Ahead
Garmin Epix ProHiking maps, route info, and fitness stats on my wrist. Review here.
Hikelite 26 Gear
Osprey Hikelite 26Lightweight, carries all your gear, and your back doesn't get sweaty. Oh yea, it's also one of the most inexpensive packs you can get.

Check out the complete list here. ( Updated July 2024)

Mt Wilson Trail Maps

Click Here To View

Use This Map:
View in CalTopo | PDF Map | GPX File

Mt Wilson Trail Elevation Profiles

Mt Wilson Trail Hike Elevation
The elevation profile is pretty straightforward, you go up. And up some more. The good news is that the downhill from Mt Wilson is easy peasy.
Mt Wilson Trail 3d Map
The trail climbs along Little Santa Anita Canyon until it gains Manzanita Ridge at the bench. From there it's a short stretch to the old Mt Wilson Toll Road and then the summit.

Mt Wilson Trail History

Orchard Camp
Orchard Camp, at the halfway point on the hike, used to be a popular resort on the Mt Wilson Trail.

There's a really great write-up on the history of the trail here if you want to dive deeper.

Mt Wilson Trail Hike Directions

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Head onto Mt Wilson Trail (road) by Lizzie's Trail Inn, which is right next to the Mt Wilson Trail Park.
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Shortly after walking up the road the "trail" trailhead is on your left.
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There's no missing the trailhead. Lot's of signs tell you to be careful, be polite, and all that good stuff.
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This short stretch of trail follows the road, climbs some steps, and then rejoins the road, which soon turns to dirt.
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Keep going straight on the dirt road.
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And go straight some more. At this point the dirt road transitions to a dirt trail.
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Now you're hiking! Enjoy the trail as it climbs up the side of Little Santa Anita Canyon.
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Bear right to continue on the Mt Wilson Trail.
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The climb is tough but not too steep. Don't forget to take breaks and turn around, the views are spectacular and you'll be able to see the trail you hiked on earlier.
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At the junction for First Water, bear left.
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You'll get some glimpses of the mountains in the distance as the trail continues to climb.
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At the junction with the Bailey Canyon Trail, continue right. Shortly after this you'll pass a clearing used as a helipad. Hopefully you don't have to take a  chopper out of here.
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The trail has some shaded sections as it makes its way past Decker Springs.
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There are some beautiful sections of trail on this stretch.
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At the halfway point you'll reach the ruins of Orchard Camp. The trail continues on the left side of the camp.
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The ruins of Orchard Camp are a great place for a snack and hydration before you tackle the second half of the climb.
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Here's the trail sign at Orchard Camp. Hike to the left.
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This section is steep but beautiful.
Manzanita Ridge
Eventually you arrive at Manzanita Ridge, aka "The Bench", which will look familiar if you have done the Mt Wilson Loop from Chantry Flat. In this case you're making the left to continue up the Gabrielino Trail toward Mt Wilson.
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Keep hiking up the Gabrielino Trail. There are some cutoffs here, please take the switchback to avoid erosion.
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This section of trail ends and you make the hard right onto the Old Mt Wilson Toll Road.
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The road is easy to follow and has a steady uphill gradient.
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The views into Angeles National Forest on this stretch of the hike are great.
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Keep your eyes open for this small trail turnoff on the right. Hike up this smaller trail to the summit. You can also take the road up but it's not as nice.
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After a stretch on this section of the trail, you reach the end of the trail at the parking lot.
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Head across the lot to visit the Cosmic Cafe, summit, bathrooms, and astronomical attractions. you can also cut across the parking lot to the right for some great views into downtown LA. If you want a more detailed description of the summit area, check out the guide to Mt Wilson from Chantry Flat.
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That's the hike! After checking out the Mt Wilson summit area, just head back down the way you came on the Mt Wilson Trail and that's it.

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This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!). You can stay up to date with my new guides by following me on YouTube, Instagram, or by subscribing to my monthly newsletter.