Mount Wilson is one of the better-known peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains, located within the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County, California. With only minor topographical prominencethe peak is not naturally noticeable from a distance, although it is easily identifiable due to the large number of antennas near its summit. It is a subsidiary peak of nearby San Gabriel Peak. It is the location of the Mount Wilson Observatory, and has become an astronomical center of Southern California.
The first recorded exploration of the mountain was performed by Benjamin Davis Wilson also known as "Don Benito". Wilson, who was the grandfather of George S. Patton, was the owner of Rancho San Pascual in about 1852 and ran a winery at his home, "Lake Vineyard", which was in the area of today's San Marino. Wilson hoped to find a suitable wood for his casks but was disappointed by the poor quality of trees on the mountain. He built a trail, following an established Indian route, which became known as the Mount Wilson Trail. In turn Wilson's trail became the predecessor of the Mount Wilson Toll Road. He was surprised to find line shacks at the summit, probably left by Spaniards who were known to track down destructive grizzly bears. He built a three-room cabin along the trail called "Halfway House." Despite Wilson's inability to find adequate wood, the hike became a popular pastime for locals who would make a weekend trip to the summit. These hikers built signal fires on the summit to let people below know that the party had arrived safely.