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Map Key

13.6

Miles

21.9

KM

Out and Back

5,668' 1,728 m

High

1,044' 318 m

Low

4,739' 1,444 m

Up

4,739' 1,444 m

Down

13%

Avg Grade (8°)

46%

Max Grade (24°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

Mount Wilson Trail is a 13.6 mile out-and-back trail located near Sierra Madre that offers scenic views.

The trail is challenging, and the first part can be very hot during the summer. This trail is not recommended for beginners.

Need to Know

There is plenty of free street parking, and a water fountain at the trailhead. Please respect local residents and keep noise to a minimum. There is a narrow, rocky section of trail at 4.3 miles otherwise the trail is in fine shape. Bugs can be annoying during warm weather and a face net might be useful.

Description

Look for free street parking in front of Lizzie's Trail Inn and The Richardson House. Mt. Wilson Trail #11W22 starts about 50 yards north of Mira Monte Ave.

The first mile of the trail is on a sandy singletrack with little shade. It passes a fork to First Water (stay left) and contours around the side of the mountain, and in 2 miles enters an oak and bay shaded section of trail. At 3.5 miles are the remains of Orchard Camp next to a seasonal stream. This shady spot is a good place to take a rest.

The trail then climbs a series of switchbacks through forest then open chaparral finally reaching Manzanita Ridge at 4.8 miles. There is a nice bench with a good view and a junction with the Winter Creek Trail #11W20 on the right. Stay left and continue up the trail to a junction with the Mt. Wilson Toll Road #2N45 at 5.5 miles. Turn right and continue up the road for half a mile enjoying the fine views of the high mountains to the east. At the Mt. Harvard Saddle, turn right onto the Mt. Wilson Summit Spur Trail which leads to the a parking lot. Cross the lot and go up the trail to the pavilion where there are picnic tables and restrooms.

Cosmic Cafe offers food and refreshments. Hours vary by season. There are also tours offered of the Mt. Wilson Observatory grounds. Water may or may not be available, so bring plenty.

Return down the same way you came. This is when the fun begins!

Flora & Fauna

Oaks and bigcone spruce provide shade on the slopes. Maple, alder and bay trees shade canyon areas. Chaparral species of manzanita, ceanothus, scrub oak, laurel sumac are common. Some rare madrone trees around 2.3 miles. Poison oak is abundant.

History & Background

One of the most visible mountains in Los Angeles. The Mt. Wilson Observatory is world famous for many important astronomical discoveries. Tour information can be found at Cosmic Cafe. There is also a free museum. Many television and radio stations have transmitters on the summit.

Contacts

Shared By:

Swire Ho

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 43 votes

#248

Overall
  4.5 from 43 votes
5 Star
58%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
9%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#32

in California

#248

Overall
314 Views Last Month
29,721 Since Sep 22, 2015
Difficult Difficult

2%
0%
5%
11%
80%
2%

Photos

Everything is clear at 5000ft above.  You can even see the tall buildings in Downtown Los Angeles!
Sep 22, 2015 near Sierra…, CA
View of Pasadena and beyond from Mt. Wilson
Sep 22, 2015 near Sierra…, CA
Most challenge part of the Mt Wilson trail.  Be sure to use your hands as well.
Sep 22, 2015 near Sierra…, CA
Amazing view coming up Mount Wilson
Sep 22, 2015 near Sierra…, CA
Looking South towards the City of Angels
Mar 13, 2019 near Sierra…, CA
No snow on the sunny side of the mountain.
Mar 13, 2019 near Sierra…, CA

0 Comments

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Unknown
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Jan 1, 2024
Jason Walley
great condition. Hard climb first 6 miles. Spotty cell service through 5th mile. Two places to filter water. Filtered water behind Cosmic Cafe at top 15mi — 10h 00m
May 6, 2023
Ted Kaufmann
Way down was really bad for my knees. I am over 40 and have arthrosis… but felt great to have done it :) — 8h 20m
Apr 29, 2023
Tray Tray
5mi
Jan 22, 2022
Carl Hartenstein
14.2mi — 6h 35m
Jan 16, 2021
Chris Peterson
Jun 28, 2020
Private User
Jun 27, 2020
Nando Master
13.6mi
Jan 25, 2020
Peter Wang
13.6mi — 7h 20m
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