“A good loop out of Chantry Flat that takes you up the back side of Mt. Wilson.”
River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
A long, tough hike around Mt. Wilson using multiple trails has many scenic sections along creeks and ridgetops.
Need to Know
Adventure Pass required to park at Chantry Flat. Parking lot fills early on weekends. This route can be hot in the summer with many bugs. Be prepared and bring plenty of sun protection and water. Do not attempt Rim Trail #11W28
if there is snow or ice on it.
Start this loop at the lower Chantry Flat parking lot. First, descend on the Gabrielino Trail (NRT) 11W14
which begins as a paved road down to the canyon bottom and crosses a bridge over Winter Creek. Keep right at the junction with the Lower Winter Creek Trail #11W15
and then go upstream along the bottom of Big Santa Anita Canyon past the rustic cabins. Watch for the trail junction near Fern Lodge that goes left uphill. Take either the upper or lower spur of the Gabrielino Trail (NRT) 11W14
rejoining at Falling Sign Junction. The lower spur is rougher but has great views of the canyon and waterfall.
Continue on passing the Cascade Picnic area and Spruce Grove Trail Camp to the intersection of the Sturtevant Trail #11W16
Trail. For a shorter version of this loop, take the Sturtevant Trail #11W16
to the top of Mt. Wilson which saves 3 miles. Bear right and continue on the Gabrielino Trail (NRT) 11W14
which climbs out of the shaded canyon into open chaparral reaching Newcomb Pass where there are two picnic tables under shady oaks. After a good rest, turn left and head west on the Rim Trail #11W28
which makes a gradual climb up the shady backside of Mt. Wilson.
Once at the top of Mt. Wilson, cross the paved road and go up a paved path towards the restrooms and Cosmic Cafe (hours vary by season). There is a shaded pavilion with picnic tables. When finished visiting the site, proceed down the western edge to the large parking area. Pick up the Mt. Wilson Summit Spur Trail
on the western side of the lot which descends down to the Mt. Wilson Toll Road at the saddle near Mt. Harvard. Follow the road down around the steep eastern side of Mt. Harvard where there are excellent views of Mt. Baldy. Watch for some nice coral bells clinging to the rock face above the road.
In half a mile there is a junction with the Mt. Wilson Trail #11W22
. Turn left and take the trail down to a saddle with a bench and a junction with the Winter Creek Trail #11W20
. Be sure to turn left onto the Winter Creek Trail #11W20
. The right fork goes down Little Santa Anita Canyon to Sierra Madre.
Descend a series of long switchbacks through a nice forest of oak, bay and bigcone spruce to a trail junction with the Lower Winter Creek Trail #11W15
. Turn right onto the Upper Winter Creek Trail #11W23
which climbs 0.3 miles then levels off as it contours around the side of the mountain passing in and out of open chaparral. There are a few groves of rare madrone trees about midway on the trail. In late spring the monkeyflowers can be spectacular on this section. The trail drops down to a paved road. Turn left and follow it down to the picnic area and parking lots at Chantry Flat completing the loop.
Flora & Fauna
Oak, bay, maple, alder and bigcone spruce trees provide abundant shade in the canyon bottom and north facing slopes. Open chaparral of ceanothus, manzanita, scrub oak and laurel sumac on south facing sides. Bright orange, yellow and red Humboldt Lillies bloom in canyon bottoms in June. Watch for rare madrone trees near Spruce Grove Trail Camp and on the Upper Winter Creek Trail #11W23
. There is abundant poison oak everywhere. Watch for rattlesnakes. Deer are often seen but bears are usually shy of people.