Mount Zion Loop - Sturtevant to Winter Creek Trails

HARD 59 reviews
#14 of 127 trails in

Mount Zion Loop - Sturtevant to Winter Creek Trails is a 7.8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Sierra Madre, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

7.8 miles 2509 feet Loop

dog friendly

backpacking

birding

hiking

mountain biking

trail running

views

waterfall

wild flowers

over grown

A beautiful multi-landscape trail with many waterfalls and trees. Offers a challenging and well-maintained trail. Big Santa Anita Canyon offers something for everybody. If you are traveling with young children, the short hike from Chantry Flat to Sturtevant Falls is rewarding and great for an easy morning or afternoon hike. However, if you're interested in something more substantial, you can follow the Big Santa Anita Loop trail. The scenery along the trails in this area is really beautiful, especially along the river. There are many waterfalls, albeit most of them manmade, but are sure to soothe your soul. Plentiful greenery in the form of trees, shrubs and various indigenous plant life make this trail special in its own right. Add to that incredible vistas of both the canyon and the mountains surrounding Mt. Wilson. Many times you'll have to remind yourself you are in Los Angeles County! The loop climbs steadily from the area of the 55-foot tall Sturtevant falls. The highest point of the main loop is about 3400 feet. Many hikers choose to bring trekking poles for this trail. A remote campground about 3.5 miles into the loop offers up some picnic tables, pit toilets, and of course, a place to make camp if you choose to stay overnight. There are roughly 6-7 spots and if you plan on having a fire, be sure to bring along your fire permit. Another unique aspect of the Big Santa Anita Canyon loop trail is the variety of terrains you'll cover. Sometimes you'll be deep in the forest and at other times you'll feel like you're in somewhat of a desert. If you are a local, this is a great hike to do over and over again. However, beware that during the summer months, it can get quite hot and the bugs can be very annoying, especially while standing or sitting still. The Adams Pack Station in Chantry Flat offers some supplies and essentials as well as treats such as ice cream, soda, and water. Parking can be very crowded on the weekends in Chantry Flat and you'll likely need to park along the mountain to get a spot in the mornings. Make sure to have an Adventure Pass to park along the road.

hiking
13 days ago

Did this hike today. Green and wet and beautiful. Be to chantry no later then 7a if going on the weekend. Took upper winter creek trail to mt Zion and then down to sturdevant camp. From there took Gabriellino trail back to chantry. Was around 8 miles. The trek up to the lot is one hell of a way to end a hike. Not sure what reviewer Mike is smoking but I want some. This hike is nowhere near 22 miles. Mike needs to buy a map lol!

14 days ago

backpacking
27 days ago

Did an overnight trip and camped at the Spruce grove campsite.

Positives:
Waterfall was awesome
The stream was full and the trails were very green. Very unique scenery.
Running stream by the site
Spotted several climbing spots

Negatives:
LOTS of people
Parking is a battle (went on a Saturday morning)
The .8 mile trek up and down the paved trail at the trailhead is a terrible way to begin and end a trip.
Campsites are directly off the trail so you get tons of people passing through the site.
The many small cabins along the trail are unique but also distracting and often overpowering.
**this is my personal preference, but both sites are in the middle of the forest and no where near a peak or a saddle.

hiking
1 month ago

loved it

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Did the loop yesterday. It is not 7.8 miles! It's at least twice as long. I prepared for a 7.8 mile hike and not for a 22 mile hike. I was dying out there. But made it out to write this review. The trail is gorgeous and quiet. Only complain is this app's lack of accuracy. Oh and saw a bear!!

backpacking
3 months ago

Did the loop yesterday (which was a Saturday). Parking lot was full by 7 when i got there, and i was lucky enough to snag a spot on the road that wasnt a no parking zone. I did th loop counterclockwise which i would recommend for anyone trying to avoid the crowds, and i still passed about 25 people before getting to Hoegee campground. while setting up 2 bears came strolling theough the campground. mom and a cub, combined they didnt weigh over 130lbs. there was one other guy at the campground and we made some noise and they took off. then finished the loop, and moved my car into the parking lot. on the way there 4 other groups said they saw the bears cruisin around. hiked past 3 different groups blasting music which i suppose was good for avoiding bears but not everyone wants to listen to fetty wap when theyre hiking. stayed at Hoegee overnight and the bears came back to say hello some time in the night. we all had our food hung and scared them off with little effort. not something i was too worried about but between the bears and the yelling of other groups, didnt get great sleep. great hike, killer views, but definitely dont go on a weekend if youre looking for quiet.

4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

amazing hike,where I was able to appreciate nature .hard and difficult .

6 months ago

I forgot to check-in and record when we arrived, but I rate this a 5 based on the following: there are several signs that indicate the hike names and length of those hikes (in miles) throughout the park. There's about 70% shade which is a huge plus since not many hikes have a lot of trees, there is parking but not a lot so it's a good idea to carpool if you have a big group, and if you arrive after 7:30am there's additional parking available for a $10 fee. (Be prepared to have cash) Just remember to bring a backpack with water and a trash bag for ALL your trash. It's very disappointing to see trash littered in our park. Also, there are bathrooms but many throughout the trails are out houses.

6 months ago

7 months ago

tough hike but we'll worth it

hiking
7 months ago

Too crowded

hiking
7 months ago

Went here thinking I'd hike the lower winter creek trail, but went to the upper winter creek trail instead. a bit more intense and I didn't bring enough water but it was worth it. I'd do it again. loved the fact that it was mostly shaded.

trail running
7 months ago

Different type of hike than usual. Most of the work is done in the forest under the shade from the trees. More bugs than I anticipated but nothing a little OFF can't take care of. Cool scenery. You go through a couple of camp sites, so there might be campers. Pay attention to the signs and have your map handy because there are multiple forks you'll cross on this one. Completed the loop in about 3.5 hours going at a fast pace, minimal breaks, and jogging about of a third of the way back.

hiking
7 months ago

I did this trail counter clockwise with a friend and came across a large black bear about a quarter of a mile southeast of Spruce Grove Campground. It must have been 500-600 pounds. After a brief standoff, the bear walked off the trail, and we continued up the path. Once we got to Spruce Grove, we saw trash strewn across the ground at a campsite, presumably by the bear. Black bear attacks are rare, but if you ever come across one, make noise and move away slowly. Running away is the last thing you want to do. The bear might think you are prey and make chase.

After passing through Spruce Grove, we arrived at Sturtevant Campground and rested for a couple of minutes. We then took a short trail up to the helipad, which we thought was the Mt. Zion Trail. The pad offers a great east facing view of the Santa Anita Canyon, so it wasn't a complete waste. After returning to the camp and wandering around for a bit, we finally located the Mt. Zion Trail and began the steep but shaded ascent to the summit.

The summit has a large opening that's surrounded by bushes, so it doesn't offer much in terms of views. However, there is a smaller opening located a few feet to the south with a better, south facing view. Overall, the summit was a nice change of scenery after hiking in the canyon for over an hour. It is a peaceful place that feels hidden from the rest of the world.

The descent from Mt. Zion offers some of the best views of the entire hike (they might even be better than the summit itself). After not too long, we ended up at the Lower Winter Creek Trail, near Hoegee Campground. According to AllTrails, we were supposed to take the Lower Winter Creek back to the parking lot at Chantry Flat. I have taken that trail before though, and it is similar to the Sturtevant Trail in terms of scenery (the beginning of the Mt. Zion Loop). It also leads to the crowded paved road, which we took at the beginning of the trail. With that in mind, I decided to mix things up and take the Upper Winter Creek Trail back to Chantry Flat. The upper trail offers nice views of the canyon but is apparently a couple of miles longer. It was worth the extra effort, though.

All in all, this was a great but challenging hike. It offers a wide variety of scenery, which isn't always the case in Southern California. Make sure to bring at least two liters of water and be well rested.

7 months ago

7 months ago

This trail is mostly up hill and takes a lot of working your back to get to mount Wilson.

hiking
7 months ago

It was challenging but worth it!!

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful forest hike! We went to the Mt Zion summit from Lower Creek and went back the same way so we didn't do the loop. That was 7.6 miles so I'm assuming the loop is actually longer than what is mentioned in the trail profile. Regardless though, the hike was mostly shaded and was extremely peaceful. Once you go down the fire road from the Chantry Flats parking lot, the trail splits after you cross the wooden bridge. It seemed like most people went to Sturtevent Falls as I barely ran across anyone at the Lower Creek trail to Mt Zion. I saw about 3 to 4 groups on the way up and saw no one on the way back until I reached that trail split I mentioned above. I didn't expect such a quiet and peaceful trail since the parking lot is so crowded! There are several creek crossings but nothing too big (my Shiba Inu was able to do it with no problem). There were multiple cabins on the way up but most of them looked abandoned...or maybe it's just poorly maintaned? Not really sure. After a few miles going up, you reach Hoegee's Campground. I did see a tent here so it looks like an active campground. Once you pass that, you will see a sign that tells you the way to upper winter creek and Mt Zion, I was initially going to go to the Upper Winter Creek trail to do the loop, but mountain summits always tend to seem more attractive to me so I decided to follow the Mt Zion trail. The forest hike does change once you go on the Mt Zion trail. You will be exposed to the sun and the path becomes a lot more narrow and the trail is not maintained as well. Brushes were overgrown but nothing too bad. There were a LOT of bees and I had a constant buzz sound near my ears. I'd probably not recommend it if you are allergic to bees. The summit was unfortunately not as amazing! There were so many brushes and trees around you, that it just didn't really seem like a summit to me. And again....bees! Although the summit wasn't as great, the trail to get there is actually really nice! I think the view on the way back at certain areas are actually better than the summit! Must do Mt Wilson next time!

Btw, I would not use the restrooms at the Chantry Flats parking lot.....I'm not sure how often they are cleaned but it was by far one of the worst I have seen....so bad that you can't really get to the toilet without stepping on "accidents." Word of advice, go to the restroom before you drive up Chantry Flats Rd!