Monday, June 13, 2011

The Mt. Wilson Trail (Manzanita Ridge to the End)

(GPS: N 34° 13.355 W 118° 03.755)

Continuing from last time for the final stretch of the trail...

After climbing over the big rock in the middle of the trail, there was not much left to get to Manzanita Ridge. At the ridge the area opens up, and you can see way back down. The trail splits at this point to another area, but I just stayed on the main trail to Mt. Wilson. There is a bench waiting there if one wants to use it, but I kept going. In the following picture, it looks like you can go up on a trail to the left, but the main trail is just going straight.
It was at this point that morning, since I had just elevated above cloud level, that I finally saw the TV transmission towers on Mt. Wilson. It was really cool below, but now that I was above cloud level I started to really feel the sun.
Finally, I reached the old dirt toll road. It was around this point the two trail runners I saw earlier passed me as they were coming back down.
As I was walking on the road, I looked toward the east and saw Mt. Baldy far away in the background of this next picture.
It is at this point I started to encounter more man-made things. The dirt road I was on connects with another dirt road and, because of this, some hikers have been confused here. The hiking trail is not in this picture because it is more off to the right.
There was not too much further to go, but the final stretch of the hike started to wear me down a bit. This is because it was a lot warmer with the sun starting to beat me down. I started to worry a little. Everything that I had planned had worked out, but I did not have enough water for a hot hike going down. I knew the cool cloud cover was going to be gone before I could reach it on the way down. I did finally reach the end and was greeted with this monument:
Basically, the mountain is named after Don Benito Wilson (AKA Benjamin Davis Wilson). He was the one that had the trail built in the 1860's in his pursuit of good lumber. Oddly enough, Wilson is connected to a historical event that will show up in my Ramona series in a month or two.
Some trees block the views up there. The clouds made it look like I was looking into an ocean, and the one "island" in the background is Santiago Peak in the Santa Ana Mountains. What you don't see is that the Tv transmission towers were behind me, but that is not open to the public. And, it turns out there is a public parking lot just behind me too. That is the one thing I left out about this hike: you do not have to hike the trail to get to the top of Mt. Wilson. One can drive paved roads to get up to the parking lot. There were some construction workers doing some work there, and the parts were being flown in via helicopter.

I consider this a really good exercise hike in that it will get you in shape for elevation hiking. It is about 4,600 ft. in about 7 miles. I would consider going back just to hike only part of the trail for this. Most people do not go all the way to the top anyways. Keep in mind though, unless you like going uphill this is not a leisure hike.

Is it scenic? I have read a lot of people say this about this hike, but I feel the same way about this one in the way I feel about most southern California hikes. I do not consider the views along the way that impressive. We are not talking Sierra Nevada hiking here. This is why it is really difficult for me to post these type of hikes unless there is something historically significant about them. There are a lot I do for exercise, but it has been very rare for me to mention them on here because there is really nothing to them. This trail I thought was worth mentioning because of its history, and it was a "deep backcountry hike" for the people hiking it over a century ago. These days the big city is right below.

The Mt. Wilson Trail (Youtube Version)

The Mt. Wilson Trail (Vimeo Version)

Don Benito Wilson (Wikipedia article)

Mt. Wilson (Historical article by the Sierra Club)

Music for the video: Incompetech's The Whip Theme (Extended Version)