12.6 miles, Full day
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.
Parking requires a National Forest Adventure Pass. You can purchase a pass at the pack station. This is a popular trailhead and the parking fills up quickly, often by 7:00 AM. Plan to start early or you may end up parking quite far from the trailhead.
The segment to Sturtevant Falls is family-friendly, but does include a few boulder-hopping stream crossings. Trekking poles come in handy, as do shoes with good tread.
Some sections of these trails are shared with horses and mountain bikes. Be alert and courteous.
When you get back to the trailhead, stop by the general store at the pack station for a cold drink and a snack. Sometimes on the weekends they fire up the BBQ!