If you’ve never been to Mt. Wilson – you need to hop in your car and go right now. Seriously – it’s one of the best places in the LA area. And for a multitude of reasons.
First of all – the air. It’s amazing. For this alone, the drive up is worth its weight in gold. Driving a few thousand feet up where the air tastes better and the temperature is cooler no matter what time of year is a treat for any Angeleno who wants to escape the choking exhaust on a hot summer’s day. Better yet – when it’s 70 degrees down in the LA Basin, it could be snowing up at Mt. Wilson which always makes for an exciting drive between climates.
The higher and higher you go, you’ll notice the dry surroundings of lower altitudes gradually become more verdant. As you make the right turn onto the road that takes you to Mount Wilson from the Angeles Crest, you’ll find yourself very much in a pine forest.
Speaking of the pine forest, that last stretch of road, almost at Mt. Wilson, is where these days you can see the extent of the damage done during the fires that raged in 2020 as part of the Bobcat Fire. Looking off to the left into the great valley you can see swathes of land completely brown where thousands of green pine trees once stood. Thankfully, even the charred trees on the side of the road have shown lots of new growth in the past two years.
If you make it all the way from the bottom of the hill in Altadena to the top – you’re in for a treat.
First you’ll pass all of the antennas.
KTLA erected the first of these back in 1947. The site proved so popular that in 1963 Metromedia bought hundreds of acres and put up quite a few more towers. They even built Skyline Park which had a variety of trails and a children’s zoo. If you pull over alongside these (which provides a GREAT view of the city as well), you’ll hear the buzz of who knows what. Is it power? Are they some type of waves? Is it just the generators? Who knows.
Driving on even further past the antennas is when you’ll get to some of the most fascinating astronomical buildings in the world, let alone Southern California. Two of the historically important telescopes on the property are the 100-inch Hooker telescope and a 60-inch telescope which was the world’s largest when it was built in 1908. To give you an idea of the magnitude of what was discovered with the Hooker telescope – Edwin Hubble was able to prove that the universe extends beyond the Milky Way. When you’re walking around Mt. Wilson it truly feels like you’re walking with the greats. You can literally (well, not literally but ACTUALLY) walk in the steps of Einstein.