Mount Wilson via Chantry Flats

HARD 82 reviews

Mount Wilson via Chantry Flats is a 12.7 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.

DISTANCE
12.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4475 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

backpacking

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

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.

hiking
8 days ago

hiking
26 days ago

backpacking
1 month 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.

backpacking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

backpacking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

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!

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

4 months ago

The last 3 miles up was hell.

hiking
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago