……… and it was f*ckn hard!! This is my toughest hike accomplished to date and it is not for beginner hikers! I went with my coworker last, last Sunday [1.18.15] and we spent the whole day on that mountain. It’s nice that it’s conveniently close in Sierre Madre, but 8 hours was more time there than I wanted to spend there.
Distance: 7.75 miles each way = 15.5 miles total
Elevation: 5650 ft. We pretty much started from ground level so the elevation gain is roughly the same. However, my activity tracker app I recently tried out says I started at 1011 ft and max was 5645 ft, equaling an elevation gain of 4656 ft… so who really know. But I really felt like I started on the ground… I mean, it was the streets of Sierra Made…! Oh, but the trail map says we start at 970ft. So I guess there you have it. By the way, if anyone knows a good app tracker for hikes, please let me know!!
Time: 8 hrs total. Started at 8am. Got to top at 11:55am. Explored outside of the observatory (closed during Winter months), ate lunch, and power napped until 1:25pm. Embarked downhill and got to ground level at 4:20pm. So it was about 4 hours up and 3 hours down to sum it up.
Aren’t I a sight for sore eyes first thing in the morning? 😛 HAHA jk. I’m not a morning person, but I try! This was the very beginning: parking, the sign, the trail head. & again with the bear warning signs… wasn’t there enough rainfall recently to provide the mountain with water? Glad they did not come down or out… I think I’d panic… and my legs were in no condition to run. >.<
The trek to first water was the most brutal part of the hike. It just keeps going up, up, up and away, and it does not help that it was the start of the hike. For a moment, I was wondering man, when is it going to become flat ground already… and then I remembered this is Mt. Wilson… it has a super high elevation and you have to get up there somehow. From the start, it is 1.5 miles and 980 ft elevation gain until you here. Like I said… brutal. We saw a few children on the trail and we think this is as far as they went. But wow, props to them for coming at all! I think some of my friends would die trying… I felt like it! 😛
The next main point you hit is Orchard Camp, 3.5 miles in at elevation of 2960ft. That’s a good 2000 ft elevation climb in the two miles from first water! A lot of people took breaks here and there is one bench I think. Some people only hiked to here.
Manzanita Ridge is the next destination along the trail. It sits another 1.7 miles further from Orchard Camp at an elevation gain of 1510 ft. This is 5.2 miles from the beginning, a spot some hikers like to stop at if they don’t want to do all the way. It is a good stopping point and also connects to the Chantry Flats trail. There are several trails that lead to Mt. Wilson, and one is from Sturtevant Falls (this one I think has several trails over). The one we hiked is the actual Mt. Wilson Trail. There is another that comes from Eaton Canyon, I believe.
That was all supposedly the worst of it. The rest of the way to Mt. Wilson isn’t as brutal, as the elevation climb is only 1180 ft. When the trail splits in two (happens twice), you can take either one. It leads to the same point but one is just shorter and harder (elevation climb). If you made it this far and have never hiked to Mt. Wilson before, just finish it — it’s a great sense of accomplishment. But if you have been up there before, you will know the view isn’t quite worth it… so I wouldn’t bother… unless you have a ride at the top waiting to drive you down. 😛 Coming down is always the hardest part.
When you get to the toll road/ fireroad, make sure you keep an eye out for the trail to your right. It is the last stretch that will lead you all the way up. I feel like near the end, the trail gets a little more dangerous. It is definitely thinner but you should be fine.
The top… was nice… but not enough for me to come back for the view. It gets a lot chillier at the top, obviously, so make sure you bring a light sweater! I believe the observatory was another small hike away, maybe 0.75-1 mile. But we wanted to go see the outside of it at least… since we made it all the way over… what’s another mile or two, right? We brought lunch to eat at the top since there are plenty of picnic tables, and our feet hurt sooo bad, we had to rest before heading down. I laid on the bench and napped.
Going down was really hard on my feet. I have Merrell hiking shoes, but maybe I need to try another brand cause my feet were killing me. I don’t want to blame the shoes since I know going down usually is harder on the feet. With hiking, usually going up is tough but I love every minute of it still and dread going down…. but with this hike… I really can’t say… that’s how hard it was going up. My calves were aching the next three days!!
I’m glad a did this hike. I think I underestimated it, but I’m ready to try Mt Baldy next!… after I find better shoes maybe. & who knows… maybe I’ll climb Whitney one day.
When I drive around the 626 area (San Gabriel Valley) facing North (the mountain), I am able to see exactly where Mount Wilson because of the antenna/ satellites up there, and it’s a great sense of accomplishment to think I hiked up there.