California Native Plant Society
San Gabriel Mountains Chapter

Mount Wilson Area

Mount Wilson is know to most of us in this part of the Los Angeles area as the location of TV and radio towers, which dominate the mountain's skyline. Indeed there is a large number of these towers. However, Mount Wilson is also noted for other reasons. Most notable is the Mount Wilson Observatory. Here the 100-inch telescope was at one time the worlds largest optical telescope. There is also a solar telescope, and a number of smaller telescopes. Today the observatory is used by amateur astronomy groups, and is well worth a visit.

The road to Mount Wilson branches off the Angeles Crest Highway, which traverses the San Gabriels from the City of La Cañada Flintridge in the south to the Mojave Desert on the northern side. The road is very windy and steep, especially on the climb from La Cañada up towards Mount Wilson. Between the City of Pasadena and the mountains is the unincorporated area of Altadena. In the early part of the twentieth century, there was an incline railway to the top of Echo Mountain. From there, a railway wound its way up the mountain side to a hotel at Mount Lowe. The Mount Lowe railway was finally closed by washaways in 1936. These mountains are so steep that severe erosion occurs when there is heavy rain. Today, it is a pleasant hike to the top of Echo Mountain and along the old rail trail to Mount Lowe.

Click on the thumbnails to see higher-resolution images, 640 x 480 pixels.

TV towers 100-inch telescope Solar telescope tower From summit of Mt Wilson Yuccas

TV and radio towers on Mount Wilson

100-inch telescope dome, Mount Wilson

Solar Telescope, Mount Wilson

Looking east from summit of Mount Wilson

Yuccas along Angeles Crest Highway (Yucca whipplei)

Tree poppies
Prickly phlox
Castle Canyon
Mt. Lowe Railway
Mt. Wilson from the north

Tree poppies along the road

Prickly phlox (Leptodactylon californicum)

Castle Canyon

Switchback on the track of the Mt. Lowe Railway

Mount Wilson from the north

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All images © 1990-2009 Mary and Graham Bothwell.
Thanks to Jane Strong for assistance in identification of plants and flowers.