Mount Wilson Trail

HARD 485 reviews

Mount Wilson Trail is a 12.5 mile moderately 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 January until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
12.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4429 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

scramble

Adventure Pass required.

hiking
2 days ago

Hiked this trail with a group of 6 on Friday, June 8. Arrived at parking lot 6:30am and it was nearly empty (weekday). We also came across very few people on the trail. Not the most scenic hike but definitely a tough workout. After Spruce Grove Campground, the going gets very tough due to steeper incline and includes mosquitos and other flys. Note the weather was not hot. I got bit about 6 times each leg and had the spray which helped somewhat. I think a face net would have helped as well.

CAUTION: The trail is not marked well in many areas as we came across a few junctions which did not have a sign. And then on the way down while taking Mt. Wilson Toll Rd, we ended up missing a left turn for “Mt Wilson trail” towards what should have become Winter creek trail. We didn’t realize this mistake until we were already 2.5 miles down Wilson Toll Rd near Henninger Flats. There’s a difference in “Wilson toll road” and “Wilson trail”. A friend of mine who ran this trail 3 weeks back also missed this turn initially until running back up. After going back and reviewing the photos on web, I believe the sign is also faded for the left turn to Wilson Trail/Winter Creek.

Realizing we had spent all our energy uphill and how far we were from winter creek, we reviewed the paper map (not very helpful if you get far off trail) and our phone map. After checking our phones (only Verizon worked and thank goodness), we decided to keep hiking down eventually leading us to the start of Eaton Canyon trailhead. We then had to Uber back to Chantry Flats. Phone clocked nearly 18-20 miles hiking.

The trail signs really should be more clear. This does not excuse us from being fully prepared as we should have been. Lesson learned for future adventures.

hiking
15 days ago

I hiked this trail on June 1st 2018. With little preparation and a few sandwiches me and my friend went up to mount wilson using the trail depicted here. It was a Friday and we got to Chantry Flats at 6:30 a.m. Since we did not have the nature pass we payed $5 to park in the packing station, of note it does cost $10 later in the day. The trail is closer to 18 miles, and the cosmic Cafe at the peak is only open on Sat and Sun. When it comes to the trail it was tough but doable, just come knowing that you will leave tired and it isn't a cake walk. Also there is an extreme amount of mosquitos, so be aware of that.

hiking
15 days ago

Woke up at 5:30am all chipper, figuring it would be a nice quick hike around Mount Zion Loop, and we'd be done for an early lunch. Well. We hiked up Sturtevant, not another soul on the trail, very cool! (Actually, COLD is more like it.) At the junction we decided to continue up Sturtevant to do the entire Mt. Wilson loop. We weren't ready for it but we figured, "We're here, let's go!" The only other times I've hiked 15+ miles in one go was Half Dome, and a sections of the Mauna Loa Summit trail. I wanna say this was pretty tough, but I think my view of it is harder than it really is since we went off-trail down Mt. Wilson Rd adding about 2.5 miles to our day. That sucked. Once you leave the summit and you head down Mt. Wilson Rd, make sure you turn left to go down Winter Creek Trail, and don't continue down Mt. Wilson Rd. The trail was not hard to follow, but there were definitely some ratty old difficult to read signs.

Anyway, overall a great trail I could see doing again for a good challenge or conditioning, or just for some peace and quiet in those woods.

hiking
19 days ago

Awesome hike--if you're ready for it. The first part of the hike is up the beautiful canyon, lots of water falls and rapids, great view of Sturtevant Falls from above. Above Sturtevant Camp, the climb is pretty strenuous--but all shaded through lovely oak forests. The route down again is mostly shaded, but more vistas. Switchbacks down the Winter Creek Trail get a little tiresome, but then we took the Upper Winter Creek Trail instead of back down to the canyon bottom -- a little longer, but much more level and nice views. And to avoid any conusion on the route, I found the guide hikingguy.com excellent.

hiking
22 days ago

Did this loop with lots of ladies for the 1st peak of 6 pack of peaks challenge. The trail is well maintained and shaded. Never a boring view. No scary Canyon drops to the side of trail but poison oaks everywhere. Switchbacks were fantastic and challenging. Though it was super foggy when we reached up the cafe really provided a nice place to take a break. Short staffed of course and you just need to be super patient and wait to get your turn to order.

1 month ago

Great hike! There are many ways to the summit, but I followed this map and enjoyed it. Ascended up Santa Anita trail (bugs were bad, for several miles. Wished I had brought spray. Was attracting them with my sweat and sunscreen). Trail is hard to follow and not clearly marked in many places. GPS helped keep me on track. At the summit, to find the Mt Wilson sign, you need to make a quick right BEFORE coming into the observatory yard and follow the fence/ steps to lookout. I missed it and wandered around the summit for 45 minutes before finding it.

1 month ago

Love this hike. I do agree that the signage could be a lot better. I had some images from a website that saved us a handful of times from getting lost. This hike always ends up being about 15-16 miles if you also do the waterfall. Also another mile gets added towards the end depending if you do the upper or lower section - don’t be fooled because that extra mile can be a killer. The last half mile up to the parking lot is also the worst. Big incline in direct heat after you just hiked mount Wilson. Bugs are an annoyance too.

BUT at the end you feel amazing and accomplished. It’s the first in the six pack of peaks so a feat for sure if you complete the full thing.

hiking
1 month ago

We started this trail from Chantry Flat Pack Station. We did it today, on a Thursday, and parking was no issue, nor was the trail busy. I will say this, with this being one of the six, Six-Pack a Peaks Challenge, you'd think part of that money would go to helping fund the trail (signs, ect), definitely not the case. It wasn't easy to navigate, and left you often wondering if you were headed the right way. With all of that said, it was a good hike. I'd rate it difficult, and it was a total of 16 miles (not 12.5 miles All Trails) to do the loop. We stayed left, once you cross the bridge. After coming back the other way, to complete the loop, I'd recommend staying right, after you cross the bridge. It's shorter to top, way less switchbacks, and not as steep; it's a more gradual climb, rather than the left turn route. We did not go to the falls; we were exhausted by that time,even for an extra .5 miles.
Our overall completed time was 6 hours 49 min, and maybe 30 minutes at the top. Oh and the cafe is only open Sat/Sun.

1 month ago

Did this hike from the Chantry flats area and my only advice is get there early or you will have a hard time with parking. We got there around 7am and the lot was already full. You can park on the side of the road but it gets backed up and you will have to walk up the hill to get to the trailhead.
My stat tracker on my phone logged 16 miles out and back so it’s a little longer than listed I think. A lot of people complain about bugs but I did this in March and it was still cool out so there were no bugs.
The hike going up is pretty easy till you get to the campground (with the swing). It starts to pick up a little after that and it seems like endless switchbacks till you eventually get to a T. You can go left or right and they both lead to the top but I took the option on the left.
It’s a beautiful hike and a pretty good workout so prepare. Took about 7 hours total.

hiking
1 month ago

Went last Sunday 4/22 with 3 friends got as far as the cabins hung out for awhile played with the pups talked with Pamela, she’s pretty cool, a friend and I stayed at the cabins last September for a music festival, that was a great time if you get the chance to spend a weekend up there I’d recommend it it’s very peaceful, anyway it is shady most of the way, it is tough most of the way, and it’s a good time all the way. It’s my favorite place to hike I’ve got 9 trips under my belt and Wilson keeps calling me back for more!
See you on the trail. M

hiking
1 month ago

Just went this past weekend with a hiking group starting out the 6 pack, and it was such a great time! We got there as soon as the trailhead opened and there was a line at the gate to get in, completely packing the parking lot as son as the gates opened a little after 6, so I would definitely recommend getting there at opening time like we did. Plus it takes pretty much all day anyway to hike it. restrooms at the trail head. Need Adventure pass (available at trailhead) or National parks pass to park or you will get ticketed. Let me just say, I was so impressed with the accommodations at the top! Actual bathrooms, running (hot!) water, a cafe with fresh hot food, coffee, plenty of seating-- such a great stop for lunch, I wish I brought money for coffee or something! A bit bummed we didn't take a picture with the sign, I couldn't find it. A bunch of cool camping spots on the way up, offering both cabin lodging or regular tent camping spots, might go back for camping some time. Folks at one of the cabins even offered us coffee and let us meet and greet with their puppers! I would recommend bringing bear spray-- although we didn't see any on our hike, we did see evidence of them, and they have been spotted frequently. Also bug spray, it got a bit buggy towards the end but not super horrible. TONS of poison oak lining the trail, so be mindful. Shaded most of the way and still went through 3 liters of water. Great views from the top, neat little places to check out along the way (including a tree swing, volleyball court, archery etc at one of the camping spots), beautiful waterfalls as an added bonus :)

hiking
1 month ago

15 mile hike up to Mt. Wilson via Lower Winter creek and Mt. Zion. Returned via Upper Winter creek. Nice day but hot in the sun near the end. Best part was finally getting a pic of a Bobcat, seen 4 total but this was the first one I was actually able to get a pic of.

hiking
2 months ago

arrived at 7:15 on Saturday morning and entire parking lot was full so we had to park .5 miles away from the trail head at chantry flats along the street (adventure pass is required even for street parking $5). entire hike took us 15 miles including putzing around at the summit and the observatory as well as the trek back to the car. hike is mostly shaded but I still recommend a hat and sun protection. hike is definitely not a beginners hike. my friends and I are completing the 6 pack of peaks challenge and this hike has been our third summit of the series. we got back to the car at 4:30 so entire hike plus one hour eating lunch and smoking a bowl at the summit made it a 9 hour mission. I recommend bringing 2-3 liters of water and snacks because this is an ALL day trek :)

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful hike, it was #dingsontribe 's first time on this trail and the beginning to our 6 pack challenge, turned out to be one of our favorite hikes so far! It's crowded, and I see why, absolutely beautiful hike. We dipped in the fresh stream, because of the rains the streams and falls are flowing strong. We have been used to hiking in blizzards and snow, and we found this mountain to be very warm. I didn't need to put my jacket on all evening. I found parts of the Sturtevant section very difficult as a person afraid of heights. Sections of that trail is extremely narrow and the drop immediate and steep. Ugh. We completed this hike with 2 of our trail doggies, even the narrow sections at Sturtvant was fine for them. One thing to pay attention to, in addition to the Adventure pass and getting there early because parking fills fast, the road closes at 8p. We took our sweet time to enjoy the mountain and started heading down the road to exit the mountain entrance and the gate was locked! We had to call the police station, whom both the dispatcher and officer were very nice, and wait for 30 mins for the gate to be unlocked. A minor inconvenience, but when you're tired it sucks. They come to the gate every hour, so just be aware of that. Don't forget to try and find the Mt. Wilson wood sign on top, somewhere on the observatory grounds and snap a picture, a camper told us we had to otherwise it didn't count. ha! by luck we did. Happy hiking!

2 months ago

Nice Hike, mostly in shade, today was mostly Kool about 60 to 70 maybe a little Kooler at top


Nice day started at 630 finished about 2 pm

hiking
2 months ago

Lost big toe nail going down hill. Really beautiful hike.

hiking
2 months ago

one of my favorite hikes in LA. the start of the trail takes you through green terrain with a creek and a few waterfalls. then the intensity kicks in with the multiple switchbacks but once you’re at the top and take in the views above the clouds you’ll feel one with nature and soak in your accomplishment. Then it’s back down through a parking lot and to the beginning. I also love it because it’s a loop. Enjoy. Bring lots of water and snack. You need to make sure you have an adventure pass.

hiking
2 months ago

Fun hike. The cool weather helped us keep a brisk pace, completing the loop in 7 1/2 hours. Disappointed that there wasn't much snow, which was only at the top. Winter Creek was pretty full though, which we crossed 6 times. The mule deer enjoyed watching us trek by.

3 months ago

best hike I've been on so far beautiful scenery

hiking
3 months ago

Did the loop but ended up adding the the Rim Trail so total distance was 17.6 miles of hiking. Definitely would do it again since I felt it’s good training for the distance aspect,since elevation wasn’t much of a factor. Definitely recommend it since it’s a good training hike.

hiking
3 months ago

Pleasant hike. Went on a Tuesday so very little traffic.

Waterfall is nice, trail in good condition.

Downside is that you are ascending up a mountain and get very few views. You are enveloped by trees entire time. Not horrible just not what I would hope for

hiking
3 months ago

Did this trail Jan 26 by myself. Started around 6:30, finished around 1:30 with an hour break at the Observatory. Trail is nice and dense with woods with some streams to cross over. Suggest going up the eastern route to the peak and down the western route. Bring layered clothing as it can get quite cold in the wooded areas. No bugs to deal with in the winter

hiking
3 months ago

Freezing on the summit. Actually, the whole way up and down too. But really nice hike- in the trees the whole time. 1st half of ascent was easy, 2nd half was pretty tough. Bizarre summit with the telescopes. Easy but long descent. Overall, outstanding trail.

hiking
4 months ago

Solid hike. Weird parking lot at the top. Start early (before 6:30am) on weekends because the crowds descend fast. Was never overwhelmed or taken to my edge but instead consistently fed a beautiful trail with great views.

4 months ago

trail is challenging but quite scenic and rewarding.

hiking
4 months ago

4 months ago

Ditto on difficulty left and caution on location of trail expressed by others.

It is a great hike, but definitely not for beginners. Prepare to invest a full day completing it and heed the warnings on the parking at Chantry Flat. I arrived just a few minutes past 6 and it was already getting close to capacity.

hiking
4 months ago

Please be aware that the trail starts in the woods in a not so obvious location, as you walk towards the falls and much before reaching the falls the trail is on the left hand side below a small hut/post but it starts off to the right of the sign. One strenuous hike, starts off easy-moderate but increases difficulty after you pass the “swing” at the camp. Being in the forest for most of the hike it protects you from the elements. Hiking poles would help some.

hiking
4 months ago

Buggy, but really fun and challenging. The map is showing from Chantry flats, but the text is indicating Sierra madre start.

4 months ago

Very good hike, just not in love with the structures on top.

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