Mount Wilson Trail is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Los Angeles County, California. It is within Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, and Eaton Canyon Park. It is 14.2 miles long and begins at 1,040 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 11.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 6,807 feet. The KOST-FM (Los Angeles) (elevation 5,682 feet) tower is near the trailhead. The Henniger Flats camp site and the KUSC-FM (Los Angeles) (elevation 5,699 feet) tower can be seen along the trail. There are also benches and restrooms along the trail.
Mount Wilson Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"Located in the Angeles National Forest, starting near Sierra Madre. Highlights: Incredible downhill singletrack. Hazards: Lots of hikers. Poison oak."
--Mark Ross & Brad Fine, Mountain Biking Southern California (Falcon Guides).
"The tale of the Old Mt. Wilson Trail begins with Benjamin Davis Wilson, who gazed up at the commanding peak located high above his San Gabriel Valley vineyard and figured those abundant stands of pine and cedar on the mountain’s shoulders would be an ideal source of timber. He built the first trail to “Wilson’s Peak” in 1864. As the communities located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains grew in population during the 1880s, the townspeople began hiking up Mt. Wilson for weekend recreation. Eager to keep the hiking customer refreshed and satisfied, local entrepreneurs constructed trail resorts on the mountain. The trail struggled with a rival thoroughfare when the Mt. Wilson Toll Road Company opened a wide, well-graded route in 1891 for a charge of 25 cents per hiker. But by the dawn of the 20th century, the old trail made a big-time comeback when a hiking fervor known as the Great Hiking Era swept the Southland."
--John McKinney, Los Angeles County: A Day Hiker's Guide (The Trailmaster).
"This popular and historic hike begins near a former speakeasy on Mira Monte Avenue and weaves tough uphill climbing with scenic city views and quiet streamside stopping points. It can be easily turned into an all-day adventure by continuing another 3.5 miles to the Mount Wilson Observatory. With its relatively easy street parking, this trail tends to be somewhat less congested than other nearby trails in Chantry Flats and Eaton Canyon, especially on weekends."
--Laura Randall, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Los Angeles (Menasha Ridge Press).
"There are numerous ways to reach the summit of Mount Wilson but this is perhaps the most unusual route—a trail that starts at the summit, then dives down into a series of canyons on the mountain’s cooler north face before making a climb back up to the top. Along the way, you’ll pass two trail camps and hike alongside some of the uppermost reaches of the West Fork San Gabriel River."
-- Casey Schreiner , Day Hiking Los Angeles (The Mountaineers Books).
"Located in Altadena in the Angeles National Forest. Highlights: If you are training for some type of physical fitness race, this is a good spot for you. The trail is a grueling workout, but very rewarding when you get to the top. Take in the scenery of one of the most spectacular views in California atop the Mount Wilson Observatory. Don't forget that you will have a very fast 9-mile descent. Hazards: For this long ride you should make sure that you have plenty of water. Be careful of hikers and equestrians. Hunting is legal at certain times of the year so do not be surprised if you see a deer carcass."
"The Mt. Wilson Toll Road is a classic hill climb and a benchmark for anyone wanting to test his or her fitness against a consistently steep grade. If you love to climb, this is your ride. If you don't you may find this ride hot, brutal, and not particularly scenic."
--Delaine Fragnoli & Don Douglass, Mountain Biking Southern California's Best 100 Trails (Fine Edge Productions).
"Climbing from Pinecrest Drive in Altadena, you'll huff and puff up the dastardly steep Mt. Wilson toll Road to Henninger Flats, a shady oasis with restrooms and water. Stop here for a much needed break before climbing again on a more gradual but still taxing incline.
This trail goes downhill for a whopping twenty! Allot an entire day to this trip -- you'll likely need it. This ride is not for beginners. Stunning views of the Los Angeles Basin; even better high alpine vistas of San Gabriel Front Range, riparian habitats, waterfalls, and wildlife."
--David Story, Laurie & Chris Leman, Mountain Bike! Southern California (Menasha Ridge Press).
"Hike along the historic Mount Wilson Toll Road and climb to a peak with incredible views of the entire Southland."
--Allen Riedel, Best Easy Day Hikes: San Gabriel Valley (Falcon Guides).
"Mount Wilson (5,710 feet) is the most prominent peak in the San Gabriel Front Range overlooking Pasadena. The mountain was named for Benjamin David Wilson, who, in 1864, improved an old American Indian footpath into the first modern trail into the San Gabriels. Although his logging venture failed, the trail became popular in the 1880s for the newly emerging sport of recreational hiking. In the area’s great hiking era (1895– 1938), hundreds would disembark from the red Pacific Electric trollies in Sierra Madre each Saturday, intent on a weekend at the mountain resorts."
--Jerry Schad and David Money Harris, 101 Hikes in Southern California: Exploring Mountains, Seashore and Desert (Wilderness Press).
"This 18.6-mile adventure is surely one of Southern California's most demanding rides -- but it's equally rewarding. Though commonly undertaken as a point-to-point trip, the loop option is quite palatable given that the majority of its extra 11 miles are downhill. The only downside to this trip is that in order to ride the whole trail, you have to go on a weekend, since the access gate to Skyline Park is only open from 10AM to 4PM on Saturday and Sunday. Scenery includes mind-boggling Front Range views of the Los Angeles Basin, forests, and steams."
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