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Mt. Wilson via Chantry Flats

A strenuous day hike through a beautiful section of the San Gabriel mountains with a 50 ft. waterfall.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 12.6 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview :  Standing prominently above Pasadena, Mount Wilson is a Southern California landmark. The 5,710 foot summit is home for an observatory ... more »

Tips:  Parking requires a National Forest Adventure Pass. You can purchase a pass at the pack station. This is a popular trailhead and the... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trailhead to Sturtevant Falls

The first .5 miles is a paved trail that descends down Santa Anita Canyon. You'll find the trailhead just down the stairs to the right of the restroom next to the parking lot.

2. Bridge over Winter Creek

Once you cross this bridge, your initial downhill comes to and end and you begin the gentle climb to Sturtevant Falls.

3. [JCT] Junction with the Gabrielino Trail

The Gabrielino trail has two branches that head up the hill. Make a note of this junction, as you will return here after visiting the Sturtevant Falls. When you do, you'll take the more scenic Lower Gabrieleno Trail.

4. Sturtevant Falls

This 50 foot waterfall is worth the brief detour. It makes a perfect spot to take photos and gives your legs a chance to warm up for the climb to Mt. Wilson.

5. Spruce Grove Campground

There are chemical toilets here, and a few backpacker campsites. This makes a good spot for a breather.

6. Switchbacks

This final climb is a steep one, but it's made a little easier by a multitude of switchbacks. As you get closer, the views over Santa Anita and beyond begin to unfold.

7. Water

There is tap water available here near the footbridge. The only chance to refill your water bottles!

8. Mt. Wilson

The "summit" of Mt. Wilson is rather anti-climatic. It's a broad area with no well-defined peak. There are several telescopes and a large number of television and radio antennae. Really I would describe this as more of the Mt. Wilson "complex," complete with roads, cars, and buildings.

It can be tricky to find your way... More

9. Mt. Wilson Visitors Center

The visitors center is currently closed (including the restrooms), but there is a covered area with picnic tables that make a good spot for a lunch break. There are plans to construct a new-and-improved visitor center, so expect some construction and potential detours through this area.

10. Trailhead

Pick up the trail back down and the far west side of the gravel lot. As of May 2010, this area was fenced off, but you can hike around the perimeter to the trailhead.

11. Old Toll Road

You'll join a gravel road known as the Old Toll Road and follow it downhill for about .5 miles. Your next trail junction will be on your left.

12. [JCT] Watch for the sign for Winter Creek

This trail head left away from the gravel road. Watch for the sign -- it is weathered and you could miss it if you're not paying attention!

13. [JCT] Upper Winter Creek Trail

At this junction, you bear to the left for Hoegee Camp and the scenic Winter Creek.

As an option, you can take the Upper Winter Creek trail back to the parking lot. It's about a mile longer, but downhill all the way.

14. Hoegee Campground

Another backpacker's campground. Not an ideal getaway, as it's right off the trail, but might be a nice introduction to backpacking for someone new.

It's worth noting that there are bears in the San Gabriel mountains.

15. [JCT] Across Winter Creek

You'll recognize this bridge. It's the same one you crossed earlier today. Now you hike back up the paved trail to your cars. Be sure to stop in at the general store at Adams Pack Station before you leave and enjoy a treat. You earned it!

16. Restroom

The facilities at the trailhead get a lot of use. There are cleaner toilets just up the hill in the middle of the picnic area.

17. Parking

A National Forest Adventure Pass is required for parking. This lot fills up early, often by 7am. Overflow parking is available at the Chantry Flats Pack Station for a fee.