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See the Retired Peak Guides in the Archives for Microsoft Word and other versions of this peak guide.

12G

Mount Wilson

5710'
(UTM 023873)

Location: Los Angeles County, about 5 miles north of the city of Sierra Madre, 34 miles from Los Angeles

Maps

Auto Club: Los Angeles and Vicinity
Forest Service: Angeles National Forest
USGS Topo: Mount Wilson 7½
HPS: Route(s), waypoints and explanation of usage

Nearby Peaks: Occidental Peak

Printable version of this route

ROUTE 1

(USFS Adventure Pass required)
Distance: None
Gain: None
Time: None
Rating: Drive-up
Navigation: None

Original: Warren E. von Pertz, June 1968

DRIVING ROUTE 1

  • From the intersection of I-210 and Angeles Crest Highway (SR 2), drive north on Angeles Crest Highway 9.5 miles to Angeles Forest Highway. Keep straight.
  • Continue about 4.5 miles to the junction with the Mount Wilson Road at the Red Box Ranger Station. Turn right.
  • Drive about 5 miles to the Mt. Wilson Park. Park to the right of the entrance or enter the park itself (open weekends and holidays).

HIKING ROUTE 1

  • Walk to the highest accessible point outside the snack bar. While not the highest point on Mount Wilson, this is the point recognized as the summit by the HPS. The actual high point is within a secured area near a radio tower to the northwest. There is no public access to this point.

Printable version of this route

ROUTE 2

(USFS Adventure Pass required)
Distance: 14 miles round trip on trail and road
Gain: 3900'
Time: 8-9 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, strenuous
Navigation: Easy

Original: Warren E. von Pertz, July 1968

DRIVING ROUTE 2

  • From the intersection of I-210 and Santa Anita Avenue, drive north to the lower Chantry Flat parking area. Park here.

HIKING ROUTE 2

  • From the parking area, hike down the paved road past the gate to the canyon bottom (1800'). Where the stream crosses the road, turn right and cross the footbridge. At the far side the Lower Winter Creek Trail goes left, upstream.
  • Go straight ahead on what starts as a road but soon becomes a trail. After 3/4 mile there is a 3-way fork, marked "Gabrieleno Trail".
  • Turn left on either of the two left forks. The right one of these two gives you a good view of Sturtevant Falls, but is narrow. The left one is for horse travel. They rejoin above the falls.
  • Continue on the trail about 3 miles through Spruce Grove Campground to a trail fork marked "Methodist Camp, Mt. Wilson - 3". The right fork goes a short distance to Methodist-Sturtevant Camp.
  • Take the left fork, cross the stream, and continue up to the summit.

Printable version of this route

ROUTE 3

(USFS Adventure Pass required)
Distance: 12 miles round trip on trail and road
Gain: 3300'
Time: 8 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, strenuous
Navigation: Easy

Original: Warren E. von Pertz, July 1968

DRIVING ROUTE 3

  • From the intersection of I-210 and Santa Anita Avenue, drive north to the upper Chantry Flat parking area. Park here.

HIKING ROUTE 3

  • From the parking area (2400'-), follow the paved road past the gate (sign "Trail") for about 1/2 mile to where the Upper Winter Creek Trail starts.
  • Follow this trail about 3 miles to where it meets the Lower Winter Creek Trail near Hoegee Campground.
  • Continue up the Winter Creek Trail about 2 miles farther to where it meets a trail coming up from Little Santa Anita Canyon. Continue another 1/2 mile to the Mt. Wilson Toll Road coming up from Henninger Flats.
  • Turn right and follow the road to saddle 5150' between Mt. Wilson and Mt. Harvard. This location is known as Martin Camp. A trail (11W22) starts on the right side of the road at this saddle. Turn right and take the trail up to the parking lot in Mt. Wilson Park.

Printable version of this route

ROUTE 4

(USFS Adventure Pass required)
Distance: 18 miles round trip on road
Gain: 4400'
Time: 10-12 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, strenuous
Navigation: Easy

Original: Warren E. von Pertz, July 1968

DRIVING ROUTE 4

  • From the eastbound I-210 in Pasadena, take the Hill Street exit; continue east (straight) on Corson Street 0.5 mile to Allen Avenue, and turn left onto Allen Avenue.
  • From the westbound I-210, in Pasadena take the Allen Avenue exit and turn right onto Allen Avenue.
  • Drive north on Allen Avenue 2.5 miles to Pinecrest Drive, just north of Altadena Drive, and turn right.
  • Go 1/2 mile to the start of the Mount Wilson Toll Road. Parking is not permitted here during the weekends and is limited to 2 hours on weekdays.
  • Continue to the next intersection where there is ample parking.

HIKING ROUTE 4

  • From the parking area (1320'), follow the dirt toll road down across a bridge and about 3 miles up to Henninger Flats (2600').
  • Proceed through the camp, keeping right at junctions, and continue up the road to saddle 5150' between Mount Wilson and Mount Harvard. Proceed as in Route 3.

Printable version of this route

ROUTE 5

(USFS Adventure Pass required)
Distance: 15 miles round trip on trail
Gain: 4800'
Time: 9-10 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, strenuous
Navigation: Easy

Original: Southern Courtney, March 1991

DRIVING ROUTE 5

  • From the intersection of I-210 and Baldwin Avenue in Sierra Madre, drive north on Baldwin to Mira Monte Avenue. Turn right (east).
  • Go 2 blocks more to the start of the Mount Wilson Trail. Park here.

HIKING ROUTE 5

  • From the parking area (970'), hike north up the road 150 yards to the first bend (east).
  • Turn left onto a trail that rejoins the road in 1/4 mile past a road gate.
  • Continue up the road that becomes a trail, passing Orchard Camp (2880') and on to Manzanita Ridge Trail (4460').
  • Turn left (west) and go up the ridge to the Mt. Wilson Toll Road.
  • Turn right and follow the road up to saddle 5150' between Mount Wilson and Mount Harvard.
  • Proceed as in Route 3.

ALTERNATE ROUTES

There are other routes that can be used to get to Mount Wilson. There are more trails used to climb this peak than any other peak in the San Gabriel Mountains.


HISTORICAL NOTES

Mount Wilson was named after Benjamin (Don Benito) Wilson, who built a burro trail up the mountain in 1864. Wilson was one of the best known of the American settlers in Southern California, and was the first Mayor of Los Angeles under U.S. rule.

Because of the clear air, level land, and close proximity to civilization, the summit of Mount Wilson was an ideal spot to build an astronomical observatory. The summit has been used for this purpose since the 1890's. The 100-inch telescope, installed more than a half century ago, was in continuous use until recently.

Route 5 is the oldest (1864) trail to Mt. Wilson and was originally a wagon road used for hauling logs down to Sierra Madre. It was also used to haul parts of the first telescope up to Mt. Harvard. (The telescope was later relocated to Mt. Wilson.)

In the late 19th century, a group climbed to the top of Mount Wilson with the intent of being the first white men to climb this prominent peak. When they arrived they found a crude cabin, presumably built by outlaws of the time.

History of Summit Signature

Climbing Archives

Please report any corrections or changes to the Mountain Records Chair.


Hundred Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club
Published 23-December-2005
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