Mt. Wilson via Chantry Flats – Angeles National Forest

Where: Angeles National Forest
Mileage: 15.2
Type: Out and back
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation gain: 4200 feet
Recommended: lots of water, start early

To get to the trailhead: From Los Angeles go East on 210. Exit on Santa Anita Rd. and head north by making a left onto Santa Anita Road. Drive north to the Chantry Flat Parking Area. If you happen to get here after the parking lot is full, you can park on the side of the street, but make sure you are to the right of the white line and off the highway.

*Don’t forget to place a National Forest Adventure Pass on your rear view mirror.

Can you believe that even at 7:15am in the morning, I still had to park .6 miles away from the trailhead? Ok – so that’ll add on 1.2 miles to my 14 mile planned hike to summit Mt. Wilson.

Mt. Wilson is #1 of the Six-Pack Peak Challenge that I decided to take on. With it being Valentine’s Day and Sunday, I was hoping that trails would be empty. This was not the case; being that it is a very popular trail since a short round trip of 3.75 miles to Sturtevant Falls and 2.6 miles to Hermit Falls.

I left my car at 07:45 with a day pack that included a couple refreshing drinks, 4L of water, turkey tacos/wraps (homemade), tomatoes, a cliff bar (oatmeal raison is my favorite), chili and some string cheese. The jet boil came with me on this day trip.

The trail starts on a paved road and once it hits a creek at the bottom and you cross a bridge, it turns into a dirt road. It is quite the nice stroll to Sturtevant Falls, within 30 minutes I was there. Surprisingly even that early in the morning there were a good amount of people scurrying around the rocks near the water.

I didn’t spend much time other than snapping a few photos with the waterfall and headed on my way back to the trail turn off to summit Mt. Wilson. I didn’t take much of a break until I hit Spruce Grove Campground. Grabbed a quick snack and headed on my way, because I didn’t want to be in dead heat climbing up the mountain. Luckily it was quite shady most of the way until the top. Spruce Grove Campground had only one open spot out of all the campsites. Pleasant and shaded is how I would describe it.

After the campground the trail climbed all the way to the top. At some point in the last two miles up the trail was not in shaded territory anymore. By the time I got to the top my legs were burning from the constant uphill.

When I got to the top I looked around a little because I haven’t been to Mt. Wilson since I was a kid and no I didn’t hike it up as a kid, you can get there by car. I found a spot close to where I came up by the trail to have the two wraps I made and tomatoes on the side. With a view in site and a nice breeze flowing I laid down on the ground for a little bit and dozed off finding myself waking about 40 minutes later. Quite the nap it was.

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At that point I decided to head down back to the car. This is when I thank myself for buying hiking poles being that the continual downhill were felt by my knees. The last mile climb back up to the concrete parking lot was a nice break on the legs. For some reason, I would rather hike up than down; maybe that’s why I like challenging hikes that have a lot of elevation gain; usually on the way down I am itching to get back to the car or to a restaurant for a nice cold refreshment. I reached the car at around 3pm and headed down the mountain.

Before heading all the way down I stopped at a local pub called Buckhorn Pub, recently renovated. The place itself has a rustic look with an appealing atmosphere not only because of those that work there, but because of all the historic sentiment and owners taste mashing together. Anytime I come this way for a hike I’ll be sure to stop in this place.

Note to self: Get to Chantry Flats as early as 6 am to secure a closer sport to the trailhead.

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