If I were one of those helpful bloggers who arranged their hikes by difficulty, I would put this one in the Moderate section, but only because I'm worried someone who's never hiked before will see this and be like "well that vulgar peakbagger said it was easy so I'm gonna give it a try." It actually is pretty easy, but since it starts at Chantry Flat and Sierra Madre Search and Rescue does most of their searching and rescuing in that area, I think it deserves a warning.
Start the hike at Chantry Flat and follow the bustling Sturtevant Falls trail for about a mile. After you cross the bridge, follow the sign to Spruce Grove Campground to start the loop. Or you could start the loop from the opposite end with the Winter Creek Trail and it would feel a bit more like a peak bagging experience.
About another mile and you'll get to the Gabrielino Trail sign 2 1/4 miles from Spruce Grove. Take the Lower (Top of the Falls) Trail for the more pleasant hike (unless you brought your horse with you).
Pretty soon you'll enter into a forest of alder trees surrounding the stream. This gets my vote for the prettiest canyon area in the San Gabriels. As an added bonus, the Humboldt Lilies are in bloom all over the canyon at this time of year. The trail will bring you to Spuce Grove Campground, a nice place to set up your tent, or have a picnic, or get your food stolen by a bear.
Continue on the trail until you get to Sturtevant Camp, where there will finally be a sign for Mt. Zion, and probably some boy scouts.
|Chaparral Summit Push|
When you drop back down to the history of Wilbur sign, head down the opposite direction from where you came. This part of the trail feels a lot like the Mt. Wilson Trail. Just over a mile later you'll start to leave the chaparral and get back into the canyon. When you reach Hoegee Campground (not as creepy as Spruce Grove), just under 2 miles to go and you'll be back at the parking lot with the rest of Los Angeles.