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blueBlack Mount Wilson

  4.5 ( 33 ) Favorite

Trail

13.6 mile 21.9 kilometer out and back
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 4,739' 1,444 m
Descent: -4,739' -1,444 m
High: 5,668' 1,728 m
Low: 1,044' 318 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 13% (8°)
Max Grade: 46% (24°)

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Trail shared by Swire Ho

Looking for a hill to conquer in the Los Angeles area? Look no further!

Swire Ho

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.

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Check-Ins

Jun 29, 2019
Evan Ferree
A few fallen trees along the way but nothing that isn't manageable 14.2mi — 6h 20m
May 27, 2019
Sagar Dalal
May 11, 2019
Patrick Sullivan
Apr 27, 2019
Don Johnson
Feb 23, 2019
Chuck Hernandez
14.6mi
Feb 16, 2019
Vince C
Was pretty well maintained throughout after the rains. A couple sections with fallen trees. Snow and ice near the top. Watch out for poodle dog bush!
Feb 10, 2019
Marcel Chavez
Feb 9, 2019
Susana Siguiriya
13.7mi

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 33 votes

#192

Overall
  4.5 from 33 votes
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#192

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