Mount Wilson Loop via Chantry Flats is a 12 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Sierra Madre, California that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
****DO NOT FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS TO THIS TRAIL. IT TAKES YOU TO THE SUMMIT and the trail opens late. Instead, search for the Chandra flats trail from the Arcadia side off the 210. Super intense hike... like a previous hiker said, the last three miles of the descent into Chandry flats feels like a never ending trail. My comments were, Eff John Muir! Lol. The last three miles of the ascent going up to Mt Wilson peak from the lower side is brutal. Trekking poles made the hike up and down easier. Especially during the light creek crossings when I was running out of gas. Not much parking available so get there early, or get stuck walking uphill for a mile. Not a fun walk when your legs are shot. There was plenty of bathrooms available on the lower trail side but when you climb down on the upper side trail, they don't exist, at least I didn't see any. So pack a TP system. Bring 3L of water and good coverage to protect yourself from poison ivy. I wore trail running shoes which made my hike easier than wearing boots. Water refill was available at the top. Cafe by the observatory was decent. On to the next peak.
This hike should be renamed as The Trail That Never Ends!!! The last 3 miles are brutal and never ending! After Sturtevant Camp I cannot express how grueling, intense, and how difficult the last 3 miles are! I have hiked up to Spruce Grove Campground many times but never beyond that until now. This was my first peak out of the six peaks I did and even though the last 3 miles killed me and I was hating my life at that time I loved every minute of this hike! Would I ever do this hike again? Absolutely...but not anytime soon!
**Please note there is a stapled notice on the Sierra Madre side Mt Wilson trailhead post stating the trail is closed due to a bear attack until further notice. So we actually went back down the same way we came up which was via Chantry Flats.**
This was not only physically but mentally very challenging. Would not recommend to beginners. The entire hike is incredibly beautiful though. The start of the trail it like walking through a Disney movie with all the cute little cabins hidden away in the forest. Also lots of little newts to make friends with along the trail sides by the creek.
So watch your feet or your may step on one by accident.
Ascending to the peak was difficult to say the least, so make sure you have lots of water with you. I would recommend a camelbak since they hold more. Also if you don't have trekking polls I would invest in some. We ending up using sturdy sticks since we didn't have any.
Reaching the top is such an accomplishing feeling. Unfortunately the cloud cover was super heavy when we went up, so the view was a bit lacking at the summit.
Be prepared though. The hike down is extremely steep and a killer on the legs and knees. Honestly this was more challenging to me than actually reaching the summit itself.
Overall, it was a great experience.
Snowy at the top
The final 3 miles are steep, so new hikers -- be prepared to hurt the next day. There is a great observatory area at the top with clean restrooms and a space to rest for a bit before the hike back down.
This was so incredibly intense! I was totally not ready for this. If you haven't trained for a long distance steep hike then don't do this unless you're ok with not walking for a few days after lol. Absolutely beautiful trail. A good portion on the way up is right along the creek. Those last 3 miles going up are so brutal. We seen several groups going back down from the top the same way but we decided to do the loop. Going down was not easy either. It was pretty steep and felt like it was never going to end. There were several spots on the way down that were pretty confusing but we studied the trail beforehand and managed to take all the right trails. We took screenshots of a trail guide we found online and that helped SO much. When you get to a sign in the way down that says chantry flats 3 miles, you can go left instead and it's a bit shorter but it will lead you back to the steep pavement road at chantry flats and you'll have to crawl back up that... Not what I wanted at the end of a nearly 15 mile hike, but in our minds at the time an extra mile the other way seemed even worse. Moleskin saved my life. Even though my feet felt completely bruised and broken I didn't get one blister! This trail was beautiful but definitely physically mentally and emotionally challenging!!
Beautiful trail with lots if water after the wet winter. Waterfalls were plentiful. After reaching Sturtevant Camp, be prepared for a grind. Its steep and relentless. The way down was gradual and not too hard on worn out knees.
It was a little tough due to snow and rain but doable...
Awesome hike. I have hiked this trail during the summer and in the fall and both times it is always fun. I loved hiking during the rains the most and i was fortunate enough to see many salamanders in the forest areas near the rocks and water. I also saw a huge redtail hawk, alligator lizards, huge grey fluffy haired squirrels, blue jays, and plenty of other birds and insects.
Great hike, the last 3 miles were steep. Be aware there are two benchmarks at the top.
Trail conditions were great!