Mt. Wilson Quest

The climb to the TOP.

It’s hard to live in Pasadena and not notice the TV station antennas marking the top of Mt Wilson. I moved here about seventeen years ago and joined PMBC about 16 years ago after buying my first mountain bike @ Pasadena Cyclery. It was a fully rigid Gary Fisher Kaitai,now it’s in their dual sport category. Anyway, it took me a while to actually ride this bike up Brown and when I rode up the Mt Wilson toll road to Henniger I thought I was going to never get there. I also want to tell you that back then I was about 200 pounds. Yes it’s hard to believe, but I was overweight when I started riding mountain bikes, and bought my first bike to get lean. Prior to being overweight I was a bodybuilder and knew I just needed to get back my cardio and the pounds would come off. Anyway, this didn’t happen overnight and took me about a year. I rode on the road 4 or 5 times during the week and sometimes twice a day. I rode with PMBC on weekends but didn’t attempt my Mt Wilson quest at first. To me this was the ultimate destination and I wanted to be in shape and ready for that 13 mile climb from my house. It’s about a 9 mile climb from the gate.
So it was about a year and a half later before I reached the summit and this was after a few failed attempts. So after I finally made it to the top I would try to schedule this climb about 3 or 4 times a year until the landslide and closure of the toll road. Now that it’s reopen let me tell you about this climb. The first section to Henniger is steep,exposed and full of hikers but being a wide fireroad it’s really not an issue. Don’t hammer it up this first part,save some energy for the next 7 miles after. I always take a break and refuel before the next section. After you get past the Fuji campgrounds you will get some tree cover. The climb out is steep but get a little flatter after about a mile. When you pass the bush tree you get back to anothe exposed section but much flatter for a short while but then steep a loose. This section is tough but tree covered and this is where you just keep your cadence and spin. I take this section to where it gets exposed again and leaves you at the mountains east facing section then take my second break. The next section is the worst as far as steep and exposed. It’s also the loosest so having some good climbing tires really helps. I just do what it takes to get this section done and try a combo of spinning and standing climbs on some parts. You will know your past the worst part when you see the sign for the Santa Anita trail entrance. Then you will also get back under the trees. This section will be a steep in parts but doable. It takes you all the way up to the final pavement section where you see the TV antennas and know your on your home stretch. Once you complete and get to the top gate you will need to climb a little further to get to observatory and the reopen Cosmic Cafe. This was never open when I used to climb up here before and there would be an empty soda machine taunting me. But now you can buy a drink and even have a burger.
This is a long but doable climb. Having your bike pre-checked and ready to ride is a must. Also having some good supplements for energy and electrolyte replacement is really good idea.This climb took me 3 hours from my house or about 2:20 from the gate. I wasn’t in a race and the goal was just to reach the summit and then enjoy the ride down. For this trail and the connecting trails I suggest a trail bike with 2.3″ all mountain tires. A full 100ounce hydration pack and big water bottle is needed unless your don’t mind being dehydrated.Plan ahead and look for it on the schedule in the next few weeks. Bring some money and we can have lunch at the to of the world at the Cosmic Cafe.