Q & A: Mt. Wilson from Sam Merrill Trail

hi, i have a quick question. i’ve been looking at all these different so.cal hike sites for info on hiking up to mt. wilson from the sam merrill trail off lake ave in altadena, but i couldn’t find any.

i know at the echo mountain, there’s a trailhead that goes up to mt. wilson. i was just wondering if you have done that, and if you have, could you give me some info on that? thank you


I haven’t gone up to Wilson from Lake ave simply because it would be a longer than normal hike. There are three other routes up to Mt. Wilson that I prefer. There’s the Bailey Canyon route, Mt. Wilson trail, and the Chantry Flats route.

But if you were looking to get to Wilson from Lake ave, you can take the Sam Merrill trail up to Echo mtn. From Echo you can either (a) go up to Inspiration Pt. via Castle Canyon trail, or (b) go north to the Mt. Lowe fireroad. The fire road meanders a lot more and adds to the distance. Castle Canyon has more incline over less distance.

From Inspiration Pt. take the fire road towards Mt. Lowe. You can either go up and over Mt. Lowe or take the fire road around it. I would go up and over, but that depends on how fit you are.

Atop Lowe on the way down, there’s a fork that takes you back down the way you came, or takes you East. I forget what that trail is called, but on the way down, you want to end up on the East slopes of Lowe. From here you’ll be able to see Mt. Markham, San Gabriel Peak, and Mt. Wilson clearly. Just follow this trail until you get to the saddle of Markham and Lowe. There’s a trail that goes to the left of Markham. Follow this trail until you get back to the fire road.

At this junction, you’ll have San Gabriel Peak to the north, Markham to the south, and a road contouring San Gabriel Peak. Take the road east. Special note though, this may be closed. Mueller Tunnel which you must go through may still be blocked due to a recent rock slide. Get more information here.

After this tunnel if it’s open, then it’s all road up to Wilson.

I did a quick Google maps sketch up. This path is assuming you go up via Sam Merrill, Castle Canyon Trail, and take the south trail up to Mt. Lowe.

Taking this route, I’d estimate it to be about 14-15 miles with about 4000-5000′ feet of gain. Assuming you come back the same way.

Good luck!

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