Mount Wilson Loop via Sturtevant and Winter Creek Trails

HARD 1016 reviews

Mount Wilson Loop via Sturtevant and Winter Creek Trails is a 14.2 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 January until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 14.2 miles Elevation Gain: 4,291 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

scramble

snow

An Adventure Pass is required for this trail. Standing prominently above Pasadena, Mount Wilson is a Southern California landmark. The 5,710 foot summit is home for an observatory responsible for the most detailed photos of Mars as well a vast array of antennae for local LA radio and television stations. While the summit is steeped in astronomical wonder and tremendous views of Los Angeles, the trails are the real beauty of this hike. There are several trails you can take to the top of Mount Wilson, but this challenging loop starts at the Chantry Flats trailhead above Arcadia, and includes a one mile detour to view the beautiful Sturtevant Falls before climbing 4,200' to the top of Mount Wilson. This is the first of six southern California summits in the 6-Pack of Peaks bundle. Done in sequence, they provide great training anyone preparing for bigger hikes such as Mt. Whitney or Half Dome. Each hike in the 6-Pack is progressively higher in altitude, and all have respectable distance and vertical elevation gain. Much of the hike is shaded, but there are also exposed parts, so bring sunscreen and plenty of water. This trail is a mixture of pine trees and high elevation desert plants. The trail itself is well maintained but it isn’t well sign posted for this particular loop so be aware of the possibility to get onto the wrong trail.

Leg buster and lots of nats in Sept. Cosmic Cafe at the top is a nice break before heading down. Rattlesnake on the trail on the way down.

hiking
7 days ago

Great local hike and a perfect time of year to do the full loop. I logged about 15 miles in total. There is plenty of shade on both sides of the loop so it's easy to stay relatively cool. Recommend a bug net or at least some deet (although bugs are really only bad on the sturtevant falls side). Get to the lot by 6:15 at the absolute latest. Way prettier than Baldy and just as challenging as Cucamonga, but without all the people.

Great hike! During miles 4-6, lots of bugs. Make sure to use bug spray. And get one of those fly nets for your face. The hike is pretty hard. Make sure you don’t go towards the waterfall when you start out at the Y intersection. Beautiful views. The restaurant up there has turkey sandwiches, PB&J’s, hot dogs, Gatorade, water refill station, and bathrooms fairly close by.

hiking
bugs
12 days ago

hiking
bugs
13 days ago

Great trail. 80% shade. TONS OF GNATS— bring head net.

hiking
27 days ago

Got to the top on Saturday, August 17. I think we got lucky and picked the perfect day for this hike - the highest temp was 90, and the bugs weren’t bad at all. We got to the trailhead at 6:00, and parked right when the lot opened. There were no issues with parking. We hiked to the waterfall, double backed to hike to the summit. It’s lower than the other So Cal six pack, but the distance and elevation gain was just as hard as some of the others. We had a great lunch at the cafe - seriously good food. I thought this was cheesy and less legit than the other hikes at first, but wound up having a great time up there. The trail was shaded for 80% of the time - a really nice surprise. Overall, We enjoyed this way more than we thought we would. It was a great day.

hiking
bugs
28 days ago

First time hiking Mr. Wilson and I enjoyed every part of it except the dam fly's. I started the day around 6:15 am and I walked around trying to find the start of the trail and a kind man told me where to go. I headed down about 600 feet before it leveled out and came upon Sturtevant Falls which took me away from the trail about for 10 min. Hopped back on the trail and a group of woman where undecided whether to continue or head back. I gave them the info. You either go all the way and do the 14 miles or head back and complete it in 7. They decided to go and do the 14. I walked ahead of them and after the 5th mile I came across spruce campground and thats where the nightmare started. There were fly's galore and at first i thought I'll just walk a bit faster, but with no avail they persisted. After half a mile I decided to put on the bug net that I bought for this reason and I'm so glad that I did. No longer did they go in my nose, mouth of ears. This is my biggest recommendation if you want to hike this trail with comfort. BUY a bug net at REI or on amazon. It was the best 10 bucks i spent. I was upset that in my head I was thinking...only 7 miles to the top, only 7 miles to the top....7 miles came and went and I was still climbing. 7.5 came and went and my morale was on low. I finally said I'm done...I need a break. I stopped for 7 min. to give my feet a rest not knowing that the top was around 2 bends. I ate at the cosmic cafe and stopped and rest for 2 hours before I decided to head back down and complete the loop. Going down was easy and had plenty of shade. Had 3 beers once I got to the general store and stayed and listened to the duo sing. BUG NET...dont forget.

hiking
bugs
28 days ago

BUGS BUGS BUGS BUGS

hiking
bugs
over grown
1 month ago

I would wear a net or a scarf up this trail. There are breathable scarves at REI called Buff. Purchased one right after this trail. I was miserable due to the bugs. I had bugs flying into my nose and eyes. Sunglasses fixed the bugs into my eyes but I literally was blowing flies out of my nose on this trail and my buddy was swatting while walking the entire time. Get Deets; OFF will not work on this trail. The trail in general depending on which route you start it’s bad at all many a little rocky.

backpacking
1 month ago

Chantry Flats parking was full at 6:45AM. Make sure if you're parking along side the road that you're obeying the signs and are within the white lines! We've seen lots of people get ticketed that way. Went counterclockwise up. A bug net for your head and bug spray make the hike much more enjoyable. Lots of water sources available for filtration up via Sturtevant, but dries out closer to peak. On the way down via Mt. Wilson and Lower Winter Creek trails there were no running water sources until Hoegee campground. Camped overnight at Hoegee and saw a mother bear and 2 cubs. The tag on her hind leg looked really tight, and she was limping. Make sure to utilize the bear box! The creeks right after Hoegee on the way back to Chantry Flats are perfect for dipping and exploring by, wish we spent more time here. Trail back up to Chantry is brutally hot in the afternoon, say hydrated!

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

Lots of bugs that will fly into your eyes. Switchbacks near the top going up counterclockwise on sturtevant trail is pretty steep, no water crossings by then, and sometimes without shade so save some water for that last stretch.

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

great shaded hike. for about 90% of the hike. plenty of places to refill your water. and even a cafe at the top if you plan ur hike during the hours they are open. lots of posin oak, wear long pants.

This is overall a good hike and a huge positive is how much shade there is! But like another reviewer said, right now it is definitely buggy with flies for portions of the hike (and I had bug spray on and reapplied on the hike - no dice). Definitely when you get higher or lower elevation, they pretty much disappear but when you are in that sweet spot and they are around, they are relentless for whole miles at a time. I’ve done mt Zion before in winter (which is some of the same trails) and I didn’t experience any bigs so I think it might just be a summer thing, but kind of irritating. Also, there are some parts on the loop down that are unshaded. (I went counterclockwise) Prob better to have sun for the downhill though so I think that direction was a good way to go. Cool to see the big telescopes and if you go on the weekend I think there’s a cafe and things going on up there. Wish the peak had a sign but I didn’t see one.

Small 2 miles section with annoying gnats going up mid-point of Sturtevant trail

hiking
bugs
muddy
over grown
1 month ago

Lots of struggle for mediocre rewards. More bugs (flies and mosquitos) than I’ve ever seen before, and they followed me the majority of the hike. The top part of the downward loop is overgrown with poodle dog bush (causes an allergic reaction akin to poison oak). Would not recommend.

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

Lots of bugs and pretty hot. Ez hike, did it in 5hrs 11mins. Come early, 530am - 6am because it gets packed. There is also no more Wilson sign, sigh have to photoshop it in my pictures now.

hiking
1 month ago

I did this trail on 7/20, and the weather was perfect. There is plenty of shade, and there were no bugs. I did it counterclockwise per the recommendation but at the waypoint where you can choose Lower or Upper Wilson Creek the waypoint instructions say to bear left, but the map is for Upper Wilson, and I beared left so didn’t have the map to follow. Since it was following the Creek I knew I would be ok. It was a great hike on a perfect day. I was at the trailhead parking by 6:45am and it was full so parked on the street.

hiking
1 month ago

I would definitely do this hike again! It was perfect shade for most of the trail. First part of the trail up the observatory was nice. We pretty much hiked along the water. But I must say the last Mile and a half before you reach the top was a little tough. Coming down was easy and fast. We did the loop and took winter Creek down. But I must say the fallen trees were a little scary to maneuver around. So be careful and happy trailing! (:

hiking
1 month ago

Drove here from Palm Springs and got to the trailhead a little before 9 am. The trailhead was packed and I had to park 0.6 miles down the road and walk up to the trailhead. Be there early or be prepared for extra miles. I did the loop counterclockwise and detoured to see Sturtevant Falls first. Sturtevant falls was pretty busy, but once I was back on Sturtevant Trail and headed to Mount Wilson I had the trail mostly to myself. It was a good workout climbing to the top; I was soaked with sweat! This part of the trail was mostly shaded with trees. I took pictures at the top and then headed down Mount Wilson Road/Trail to the Winter Creek Trail. The beginning of this trail burned in October 2017, but the burned area only lasted one to two miles. This trail was also more exposed than the Sturtevant Trail. There was a lot of poison oak on the trail, but I was able to avoid it and I was wearing shorts. Garmin hike stats: 16.31 miles, 6 hours and 26 minutes (5 hour and 57 minutes moving time), and 4,488 feet of elevation gain. July 20, 2019. Peak 3/6 of the SoCal Challenge.

hiking
1 month ago

We did this trail loop on July 7th, logged 16.6 miles may be because we went to see the Sturdevant Falls which it has lots of water even this late in the season. The trail up Gabrielinio was very shady it got steeper after the Sturdevant campground, don't miss the 1893 original park Ranger cabin. Down Winter creek trail is also very shady and steep. It took us 8 hours and 20 minutes to complete and we only stopped at the Cosmic Cafe for lunch and kept a good pace all the way around. Very nice hike to start our six peaks challenge.

hiking
2 months ago

I logged 20 miles on this, not 14 LOL. A big difference from the stated mileage. It was a little over 9 miles to the summit going counter clockwise on this trail. Do yourself a favor and bring a mosquito net AND bug spray. Mosquitos and gnats swarm 3/4 of the way up. Currently no sign at the top. Be on the lookout for snakes. Cafe is open Sat and Sun and there are bathrooms near the cafe as well as a water bottle refill station. There’s a good lookout beneath the cafe.

hiking
bugs
muddy
off trail
over grown
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Pretty good hike. Would have been nicer if you didnt have to dodge a group of mountain bikes on some very narrow sections. Bugs weren't too bad, I would definitely recommend counter clockwise loop. After the waterfall it gets very steep with loose dirt.. not something I'd wanna go down after summiting.

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