The Pasadena Mount Wilson is a great trail if you’re an adrenaline junkie, with about 5000 feet of separation between the highest and lowest points of the trail. With about eight miles of trail to cover, it’s likely one of the most exciting trails around. It’s even more exciting than the descent on the Mt. Lowe Railroad Trail, which should be nearby. However, that means you’ll have to be all the more careful. We recommend going slow on your first descent, even for expert mountain bikers. Once you’re more familiar with it, you can reduce how much you use the brakes.
You can find the Pasadena Mount Wilson Trail trail trailhead near the peak, which should be about 5696 ft from the lowest point. There should be parking near Cosmic Café off Mt Wilson Road, and from there, it’s just a short distance to the trailhead. That said, you can also get near the trailhead by shuttling.
By parking around the café, you can ride your bike down and return on the shuttle before deciding whether to go for round two. You can also refresh yourself with coffee and a snack to psych yourself up.
The upper and middle parts are great but a mess. There are certain washed-out sections where you may have to get off your bike to cross. The switchbacks here also aren’t beginner or even intermediate-level-friendly.
If you’re an intermediate mountain biker, you can probably get through these sections by keeping your fingers consistently on the brakes. Even for more experienced riders, it doesn’t hurt to be safe, especially if it’s your first time down and you don’t know which gaps and switchbacks to watch out for. After that, you can rip through it as long as you know your capabilities.
We enjoyed the bottom third the most since it’s better maintained, and the switchbacks here are manageable. Also, the trail here is a bit wider than you get with the other two-thirds.
There are many impressive views here, but that only makes it a target for hikers and other trail users. As such, depending on whether you go there on the weekend, public holiday, or the middle of the week, you may need to keep your hands on the brakes, even on the bottom third. Fortunately for us, we went on a low-traffic day and thus had the most fun.
Also, unlike most other trails in the area, there’s significant tree cover on the Mount Wilson Trail, and it should be bearable to ride through even on some hotter days.
In addition to the hillside views of the landscape, there’s also the Mount Wilson Observatory and the Mount Wilson Observatory Museum, just a short distance from the café and trailhead.
Pay close attention to the trail for washed-out sections, especially near the top.