“Looking for a hill to conquer in the Los Angeles area? Look no further!”
— Swire Ho
Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
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.
Lots of rocks and roots so a sturdy trail shoe is a must.
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.