Mt. Wilson - West Fork Loop
ElevationAscent: 2,908' 886 m
Descent: -2,908' -886 m
High: 5,685' 1,733 m
Low: 2,896' 883 m
GradeAvg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 48% (26°)
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“On this run there is great scenery and flora and a nice stretch along the West Fork San Gabriel River.”— Alan Coles
The trail leaves the canyon bottom for a short distance offering good views to the west of San Gabriel Peak then drops back down into the canyon with a nice seasonal stream. There are small waterfalls along the way and mature maple trees that turn bright yellow, orange, and red in fall. Bay and alder trees dominate the streamside vegetation along with blackberry and abundant poison oak. After 2.5 miles the junction with the Gabrielino Trail is reached at an signed junction.
Go straight at the junction and continue downhill entering an area burned in the Station Fire (2009). Various ceanothus species along with scrub oak thrive in this fire recovery zone. The trail enters a nice oak forest and drops down to West Fork Trail Camp on the Red Box-Rincon Road. This shady camp on beautiful West Fork San Gabriel River has tables, stoves and a single vault toilet and makes a good lunch spot.
The Silver Moccasin Trail goes north from this site up Shortcut Canyon. The Gabrielino Trail crosses the stream and follows it east down along a meandering path passing under tall alders, oaks and bigcone spruce trees. The crystal clear and cold water splashing over large granite rocks makes this section a please to run along. There are ten crossings along the mile stretch down to Devore Trail Camp and they can be difficult when the water level is high. An alternative is to run the Red Box-Rincon Road east from West Fork Camp and reconnect where the trail crosses the road but that route is not as attractive. Watch for a nice waterfall dropping in from the south side about halfway between camps. Devore Trail Camp has stoves and tables and makes a nice lunch spot or a good place to take a break because it is a long climb back up to Mt. Wilson.
The trail turns south and climbs steadily under shady oaks, bigcone spruce and bay trees passing in and out of small canyons that usually have water running through them. Wildlife is abundant and deer, coyotes, squirrels and various birds can often be seen. The trail crosses the road and shortly arrives at Newcomb Pass. There are two picnic tables under shady oaks that make an excellent break spot.
Recent fire line work (Wilson Fire, 2017) mar this otherwise pristine spot. The Gabrielino Trail (NRT) goes south into Santa Anita Canyon. There is a spur road heading east that joins with the Red Box-Rincon Road in half a mile. Take the right turn onto the Rim Trail and heads west back to the top.
The Rim Trail stays mostly on the well-shaded north side occasionally passing along the ridge top with good views to the south. Near the top there are some steep slopes (dangerous if icy) then it passes around the observatory and joins the road. Follow the road west to the entrance. A pedestrian gate can be opened from the inside if the main gate is closed.
Deer, coyotes, squirrels and infrequently bear, mountain lion or fox. In spring there are copious amounts of lady beetles in the riparian areas covering dead logs.
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