Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Dog Friendly Hikes Los Angeles County Hikes

Hiking Mt. Wilson via Chantry Flat

The loop hike to Mt. Wilson via Chantry Flat covers 13.5 miles and gains 4180ft. In this guide, I'll cover the hike to Mt. Wilson using the Sturtevant Trail and include side trip options for Mt. Zion and Sturtevant Falls. I'll also include information on the historic Mt. Wilson Observatory at the summit.

The loop hike to Mt. Wilson via Chantry Flat covers 13.5 miles and gains 4180ft. In this guide, I’ll cover the hike to Mt. Wilson using the Sturtevant Trail and include side trip options for Mt. Zion and Sturtevant Falls. I’ll also include information on the historic Mt. Wilson Observatory at the summit. Below you will find directions, maps, GPS tracks, photos, and a full hike description.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion


Directions And GPS Tracks:

  • To hike Mt Wilson via Chantry Flat drive to Chantry Flat, Chantry Flat Road, CA, 91006. From the 210, you’ll exit Santa Anita Ave and head north. Santa Anita becomes Chantry Flat Rd, and eventually dead-ends at the parking lot. Make sure to arrive very early for this hike, as the parking lot fills up quickly. On weekends, the parking lot is usually full by 6:45 AM. There is parking along Chantry Flat Rd that may require you to hike an additional mile or two.
  • Download GPX For Mt. Wilson via Chantry Flat
  • Download GPX For Mt. Wilson, Sturtevant Falls, and Mt. Zion

Key Points:

  • Distance: 13.5 miles (+.6 miles for Sturtevant Falls and +2 miles for Mt. Zion)
  • Elevation Gain: 4180 ft
  • Minimum Elevation: 1795 ft
  • Maximum Elevation: 5710 ft
  • Time: 5-8 hours
  • Difficulty: (3/5)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Permit Required: No, but an Adventure Pass is required to park at Chantry Flat
  • Parking: Parking is very limited in the parking lot, make sure to arrive early.
  • Season: Year Round
  • Trail Condition: Single track, switchbacks, and fire road.
  • Cell Phone Reception: Poor

Make sure to hike with the right gear. See my current hiking gear list. 


Hike Map And Elevation Profile:

In the map below you’ll see the hiking track for Mt. Wilson via Chantry Flat in blue. The side tracks to Sturtevant Falls and Mt. Zion are shown in red. The elevation map and Google Earth map only show the main Mt. Wilson via Chantry Flat hiking track.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion


Hike Description:

0.0 Miles- Once you’ve parked at Chantry Flat, make your way towards the restroom and you’ll see a trailhead with an asphalt road heading downhill. You’ll head downhill on this asphalt road for the first .5 miles of this hike.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Trailhead
Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Downhill Asphalt Road

0.6 Miles- Leaving the asphalt road behind you’ll cross over a stream using a bridge and reach the junction for the Sturtevant Trail. This is the beginning of the Mt. Wilson Loop. For this hiking guide, we will start on the right hand junction for a counterclockwise loop.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Crossing The Bridge
Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Loop Junction

It’s amazing how quickly the landscapes can change in California. One of the major reasons this hike is so popular, is that it feels so far removed from the urban landscape of Los Angeles.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Spring Runoff
Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Sturtevant Trail

1.4 Miles- You’ll reach a junction for the Sturtevant Falls and the Gabrielino Trail. If you want to skip the falls, head left and take the Gabrielino Trail: Lower Trail (Top of the Falls). If you want to visit the falls, take a right. I will include a section below for information on the falls, but will not include the extra distance in this hike description.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Gabrielino or Sturtevant Falls?
Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Gabrielino Trail Sign


Sturtevant Falls Option:

The hike to Sturtevant Falls is an additional .3 miles each way for an extra .6 miles on this hike. The route is very straightforward and easy to follow. There are a few creek crossings, so make sure to be mindful of your footing.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Sturtevant Falls


Whether you hiked and returned from Sturtevant Falls or skipped it, hike up the Gabrielino Trail: Lower Trail (Top of the Falls).

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Stay Right When Starting The Gabrielino Trail

1.7 Miles- You’ll now be on a stretch of trails that looks down onto Sturtevant Falls. The rains have made this stretch narrow and worn down, so make sure to be mindful with your foot placement.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Don’t Fall
Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Feeder Falls

The next section of hiking along the Sturtevant Trail is one of my favorites on this hike. Shaded groves, creek crossings, and cool temperatures on summer days make this stretch of trail hard to leave behind.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Leaving The Falls
Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Wonderland
Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Creekside

3.4 Miles- You arrive at Spruce Grove Campground. There are usually quite a few groups camping here on the weekend, so make sure to keep your voice down if you’re passing through early.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Spruce Grove

3.6 Miles- Just after passing through Spruce Grove Campground, you’ll see a sign for Sturtevant Camp. Sturtevant Camp has cabins for rent that are open to the public. The trail crosses over just before reaching Sturtevant Camp, so keep an eye out for this junction and take a left hand turn.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Left At This Sign
Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Crossing Over To The Other Side

Just outside of Sturtevant Camp, you’ll see a trail sign for Mt. Zion. If you want to bag an extra peak, take a left at the Mt. Zion Junction. Otherwise, take a right and continue hiking towards Mt. Wilson

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Zion Junction


Mt. Zion Option:

To reach the summit of Mt. Zion, you’ll need to add 1 mile each way for an additional 2 miles of hiking on this trip. The hike to the summit of Zion only adds a around 400 ft of elevation gain, making this a low effort addition. The views from the summit of Mt. Zion are not that great, but to to the ease in which they’re acquired, make this a worthwhile trip.

To reach the summit of Mt. Zion, you'll need to add
Zion Views


Whether you hiked and returned from Mt. Zion or skipped it, continue hiking the Sturtevant Trail towards Mt. Wilson. This next stretch of trail is where you’ll really start to gain in elevation. At this point you will have hiked 3.7 miles to an elevation of 3228. In the next 2.5 miles, you gain more than 2000ft. Most of these gains come by the way of switchbacks, ascending Mt. Wilson from the east.

Whether you hiked and returned from Sturtevant Falls or skipped it, hike up the Gabrielindo Trail:
Heading Uphill
Whether you hiked and returned from Sturtevant Falls or skipped it, hike up the Gabrielindo Trail:
On The Switchbacks

5.5 Miles- With a little over 1 mile to go, you’ll get your first views of Southern California before the trail ducks back under a canopy of trees.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
First Views
Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
More Shade

6.5 Miles- The Sturtevant Trail tops out on the east side of Mt Wilson. Take the short walkway out to Echo Rock for some incredible views of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
End Of Sturtevant
Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Towards Echo Rock
Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Views


Mt. Wilson Observatory

Now that you’ve made it to the top of Mt. Wilson, it’s time to explore the observatory. The first thing you’ll see is the 100 inch Hooker Telescope. The Hooker Telescope was the world’s largest from 1917 to 1949. The Hooker telescope was even used by the famous Edwin Hubble shortly after its completion. This telescope helped Hubble prove that our universe goes far beyond our own Milky Way galaxy, and that the galaxy is and has been expanding. The Hooker Telescope radically changed the scientific views of how we saw the universe. If that’s not enough, the Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky discovered dark matter with the Hooker Telescope.

The Hooker Telescope has a visitor center. There is a stairway on it’s north side that allows visitors to walk up and see the telescope up close.

Fritz Zwicky
The Hooker Telescope
Fritz Zwicky
A Tool Of Discovery

After visiting the Hooker Telescope, you’ll walk by the 60 inch telescope. First operated in 1908, at the time of it’s “first light”, it was the largest telescope in the world.

mt. wilson trail via sierra madre hike hiking guide
60 Inch Telescope

After visiting the 60 inch telescope, take some time to see the Astronomical Museum. The museum was built in 1936 and showcases the history of the Observatory. The museum also houses a 256 seat auditorium for lectures and other special events.

mt. wilson trail via sierra madre hike hiking guide
Museum
mt. wilson trail via sierra madre hike hiking guide
Museum
mt. wilson trail via sierra madre hike hiking guide
Observatory Layout

After visiting the Astronomical Museum, continue heading west towards the Cosmic Cafe and the large gravel parking lot.



7.0 Miles- You will pick up the backside of this loop trail from the parking lot. Look for a sign reading “Mt. Wilson Trail”.

mt. wilson trail via sierra madre hike hiking guide
Mt. Wilson Antenas

7.8 Miles- The Mt. Wilson Trail continues on the Mt. Wilson Toll Road. Take a left and continue hiking on the toll road.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Go Left When The Trail Meets Toll Road

8.1 Miles- The hiking on the toll road is short lived. Keep an eye out for the junction that continues on the Mt. Wilson Trail. This one is easy to miss.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Winter Creek Trail Junction

8.4 Miles- The final major junction comes for the Winter Creek Trail. This one is impossible to miss as you’ll see a bench marking the trail. Take a left at the Winter Creek Junction.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Left At The Bench

The rest of this hike follows the Winter Creek Trail down a series of switchbacks, crosses over a few streams, passes a few canyons, and returns hikers to the bridge that began this loop up to Mt. Wilson. The only hard part that remains, is the uphill climb up the asphalt road to the parking lot.

Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Hoagee Campground
Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Passing Cabins
Hiking Mt Wilson Trail via Chantry Flat Sturtevant Falls Mt. Zion
Back To The Bridge

 

I’m Drew, creator of Trail to Peak. Trail to Peak brings content to life on the web through breath-taking photography and captivating video. I launched Trail to Peak in 2014 with a goal to inspire readers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I have traveled to 19 countries, walked Camino de Santiago, hiked the John Muir Trail, trekked through the Andes of Peru, and am constantly seeking new adventures in my home state of California. Joining me on my weekly adventures is my partner, Julia, our son, Owen, and our two goldendoodles, Isla and Lilly.

3 comments on “Hiking Mt. Wilson via Chantry Flat

  1. Really digging the site overhaul. Looking good man.

    • Thanks, Ian! I flipped the switch on the new site on Friday and have been making small improvements each day when I get home from work. Who knew hobbies could take up so much time and steal so much sleep?!

      • Haha, yep. That’s why my site is so bare bones still. I haven’t put in the effort. Maybe one day.

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