Mount Wilson via Chantry Flats

HARD 119 reviews

Mount Wilson via Chantry Flats is a 12.6 mile moderately 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.

12.6 miles
4,274 feet

dog friendly




nature trips

trail running





wild flowers



A strenuous day hike through a beautiful section of the San Gabriel mountains with a 50 ft. waterfall. 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 Mt. Wilson, but this challenging 13 mile loop is the most beautiful. It 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 Mt. 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.

1 month ago

Did this one with my hiking buddy. We started in the late morning. Made our way through the back side. My altimeter watch was giving us very wrong elevation readings so we thought we were ascending very very slowly, but before we knew it, we reached the top! The backside of Wilson facing the San Gabriels takes your breathe away!

4 months ago

Beautiful at times, peak is an anti climax, 98% is in forrest, crowded, difficult parking. Good company.

8 months ago

8 months ago

On January 31,2018. My husband and I woke up to a spectacular, super, blood, blue lunar eclipse. Then we drove to Chantry flats and hiked up. For the first of our Sixpack Challenge. The little cabins on the way up are so enchanting and the waterfall is well worth the mini detour. The bugs were out but weren’t too bothersome. The views from the top are amazing as well. The hike down was steep and we somehow missed a turn hiked a little longer then planed but lucky we made it back to the parking lot.

11 months ago

This is a great trail for a 1-night backpacking trip if you want to briefly go off the grid. We hiked the opposite direction of what's described so that we could summit the first day, and lodge closer to the half-way point at Spruce Grove. We logged 11 miles the first day and 4.5 miles the second day, while stopping by Sturtevant Falls on Day 2. There's plenty of water in the streams to filter, and it's easy enough to refill at the Observatory on the summit. While camping at Spruce Grove, we did have a bear check out our camp late at night, so make sure you either bring a bear canister or rope to stow your food properly if camping! We used the bear hang (rope) method which worked well.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Great trail! Beware of bugs on those hot days. After our first visit, we immediately bought bug nets to keep the bugs off of our faces.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Good trail. Great scenery. Pretty straightforward but twice now I've been tricked on the way down heading toward Hogee's Camp. Last time we took the longer Upper Trail back to Chantry Flats and this time I thought I missed the junction and was heading toward Zion. Luckily, I brought a hard copy map as well as using GPS and figured out I was still on the correct trail.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The trail begins behind the closed gate right next to the restrooms. From here, just follow your map or GPS. The trail is well marked and easy to navigate all the way up to the observatory. Easy to navigate does not mean easy to accomplish. This is at least an “intermediate” sort of trail and becomes somewhat strenuous after Sturtevant Camp with multiple switchbacks and an aggressive elevation gain at about 18% grade.

Once you make it to the top and walk out on the road, you should see a map/sign on your right that will illustrate how to get around at the observatory. You’ll want to head over towards the Cosmic Café and parking area. If it’s the weekend, you can buy food there. If it’s a weekday, you can still use their tables and nice shady pavilion for some much needed recuperation. There are restrooms and a water spout to top off your water bottles before you descend. Once you have some fresh gas in the tank, head on over to the far left corner of the lower parking lot. You’ll find a survey marker for Mount Wilson and a “To the memory of” plaque.

Now you need to find your way out of here. Good news as the trailhead is in the same parking lot. Walk just to the northwest of the survey marker right across the parking lot, take a picture of Mount Markham and Mount Lowe, and then drop down onto the trail. The trail will parallel the firebreak for a bit, and then you’ll want to bear left at the split for Winter Creek Trail. On a side note, a quick observation for this general area is, if in doubt, just bear left and you can’t get lost. You’ll wind back down into the forest through many switchbacks. Watch your step as the trail is completely covered in acorns the whole way down. They are like giant ball bearings on the ground just waiting to “assist” you on a rapid descent if you know what I mean. Eventually you’ll reach a sign showing you the way to Hoegees Camp. You need to make a decision here. Continue on your current path on the lower trail or take the Upper Winter Creek Trail? I deviated from the course suggested here and took the upper trail and have no regrets. I’d rather be on that beautiful trail than walking on a steep road back up to the gate when using the lower trail. That top trail is great imho.

Tips for the hike. Trekking poles help, especially for the steep parts and more confident trekking over the unbelievable amounts of acorns on the trail during your descent. (at least in early Sept) Water... Take more than you think you need. Insects are bad. VERY bad. Repellant will keep the biting types from eating you alive; however it doesn’t do much for the incredible amount of gnats. An insect net hood proved to be my most valuable piece of gear. Otherwise they fly inside your ear, up your nose and into your eyes fairly constantly.

That’s it. This hike was a blast and I recommend to any intermediate day hiker. If you can comfortably handle 9-12 miles at ~3000ft gain, then Mount Wilson is totally doable for you. Just come prepared and hike on!

Friday, August 04, 2017

The last 3 miles up was hell.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Ascended via the Upper Winter Creek Trail and Mt. Wilson Toll road and descended via the Sturtevant trail. A lot of loose sand and rocks were encountered on the first 3 miles of descent. Last half mile (paved) back up to the trailhead was exceptionally steep. Weather was pleasant - low hanging cloud made for a mist covered and cool ascent. Water refill station is available at the summit. Total distance mapped was 14.9 mi.

Arrived at around 8:30 am. Parking at trailhead was full - paid $ 15.00 to park at the pack station.

Did not see insect swarms as reported, although my friend advised that he picked up a few mosquito bites.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Gorgeous! The last three miles up was challengingly steep (for me) but well worth the experience - a "feel good" hike!!!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I love it

Monday, May 01, 2017

This trail is more like 16 miles loop. Gorgeous! You're in the shade the majority of the time. The last 3 miles are full of switch backs but it doesn't get grueling until the last 1.4 miles. I'm 5"8 and was practically doing squats up this portion of trail. It was the never ending mile lol. We got there at 6:15am on Saturday and the parking lot was full, we did get a spot on side of road not far from parking lot, any later and we would have added addl footsteps to this hike. Bring plenty of water, there are water stations up at the cafe by Observatory. There's lots of mosquitoes so be prepared to bring insect repellent.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Absolutely beautiful! This hike far exceeded our expectations!!!! Loved it! Arrived at the parking lot at 6:30 on Sunday morning and had no trouble finding parking. We were by ourselves most of the way which made the hike a wonderful and serene experience.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The parking is limited to the narrow roadside on weekends. Crowds are large and lots of traffic. The hike was nice once we passed the waterfall where everyone was heading to. I enjoyed the water crossings and coolness shaded by the trees on the trail. if you don't like crowds- this trail is not for you or hike it on a weekday.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Fabulous trail! So green! Shade almost the whole way. Lots of water flowing. Sturtevant Falls was incredible! A must do hike. The peak is anticlimactic but the journey there is awesome! About a dozen river crossings, hopping on rocks. For a quasi peak experience, go to echo rock where the geo tag is. A must do hike!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

I took on Mount Wilson solo with my kiddos opting out for this one. The elevation through the forest is grueling. Very little trail traffic and at times was all alone. Solitary and quiet which was nice - am glad there was no mountain lion sitings and having a hiking buddy would have been safer. The water in the creeks and the waterfalls was absolutely beautiful. Everything is green from the recent rains. Quite a bit of trail debris - rocks and down branches - from the rains tho. A very rewarding day all around and the view at the top was great!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Love this hike. Have done it about 5 times. Very challenging. Bring lots of water. Meals. And plenty of snacks. Takes us about 12 hours to do with breaks in between. Since the sun sets at 6pm make sure you start back down the mountain around 2pm, at the latest, depending on your speed. Take flash lights.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Did this on Sunday. Quite a few people but not bad. Leave early. We started at 6:45a. First 3 miles are easy and the last 4 up are a quad burning grind. Great views. Free coffee and hot chocolate at the snack bar. Snow and ice near the top still so think about bringing micro spikes. Did out and back on upper winter creek trail to Mt Wilson trail.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Absolutely loved the scenery and the waterfall.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Great time completing a challenging hike.

Friday, October 14, 2016

This hike is pretty moderate and long but worth the distance. You'll see a waterfall during spring. A lot of shade and very green.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

awesome hike did it 2 weeks ago, your hiking 80 percent of the trail thru the forest. The hike was tough though, bring plenty of water.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

One of the best hikes around. Beautiful scenery, very relaxing and destination is great

Saturday, September 24, 2016

This is a great hike. Took my pups and couple friends with me. By the end of the day we were pooped, my pups just collapsed and fell asleep in the car right after, we all just wanted to go home and shower haha! The hike back is the worst, especially towards the end. But it is an awesome hike

Monday, September 12, 2016

Don't do this trail on a hot day.

Monday, September 05, 2016

I really did not like this hike. Primarily because of the bugs. That could change depending on the season but when we went they were terrible. The peak is not exciting but still...when you finish the hike you feel accomplished.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

We made it to the top. The hike is more like 14 or 15 miles. It is definitely brutal on the legs, but very beautiful at the top. It was a good hike for once in a lifetime.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Good trail although it can be a little confusing coming down the Winter Creek side, following the fire break. Someone has marked the correct way with chalk. I don't know how long it will last though.
On a lighter note, I almost died three times! Coming down from Mount Wilson, we ran into a juvenile rattlesnake spread out across the trail. Luckily it slithered away as we came upon it. Halfway down, before we got to Winter Creek, we saw a mountain lion cub running down the trail about hundred feet ahead of us. It disappeared around the corner and we never saw mama but I started talking to myself and whistling loudly. Finally about 2 miles from the trailhead we were walking along and heard a noise. I couldn't figure out what it was but finally I looked up and saw the trees were moving. It turned out, just past call box 4, a big 50 foot tree fell down and broke across the trail. It knocked down the telephone wire for about a quarter-mile.
Fun hike and I didn't really see anybody all day long maybe four people? A good challenge for my dog, and Australian Shepherd mix.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Incredible hike!
I did this loop, started at Chantry Flat, came back via the Manzanita Trail. So it was counter-clockwise. The way up is rough, lots of elevation climbing, and you actually start out in a canyon. So it might be colder at the beginning.

But definitely worth the trip. Hardly anyone there, even on a warm beautiful day.

Grab a printed map at the Chantry Flat store first. And get some chili on the way back. They also have some great cabins for rent in the canyon, info at the store.

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