ADVENTURE HIKES AND CANYONEERING© Christopher Earls Brennen
IN THE SOUTHWEST
Hike K13. Mount Baldy
- Hiking time: 6 hours
- Estimated hiking distance: 6.3 miles
- Elevation gain: 2265 feet
- USGS Topo Map: Mount San Antonio
- Difficulties: Substantial exposure and altitude
- Special equipment: Hiking stick
This is a spectular hike from the top of a chair lift, up along a ridge with precititous exposure on both sides and up to the barren summit of the local Los Angeles landmark, Mount Baldy (or officially Mount San Antonio). Though a straighforward hike without unusual physical challenges, it is not for the faint of heart. Since it is dangerous when there is snow, it is only advisable in the summer or early fall. Some may be effected by the altitude so plentiful drinking water is also recommended.
The trailhead is the top of the main ski-lift up to the Mount Baldy Ski Area, the Mount Baldy Notch. From the San Gabriel Valley, drive up the Mount Baldy Road, through Mount Baldt Village and up the winding road to the ski lift parking area at the end of the road. Park here at 34.26965oN 117.62334oW and an elevation of 6427 ft and walk up to the ski lift start at 34.27022oN 117.62178oW and an elevation of 6483 ft. The ski lift takes you up to the Baldy Notch at 34.27436oN 117.61031oW and an elevation of 7799 ft where your hike begins. Close by the lift top is the ski lodge where refreshments may be available.
Note that, in the past, the author has taken his mountain bicycle up on the ski lift and ridden down the dirt road at the end of the hike. However the dirt road meets the Mount Baldy Road some distance below the Ski Lift Parking Area at Manker Flats ( 34.26606oN 117.62699oW and an elevation of 6155 ft) and this neccessitates an additional short ride up the road to the parking area.
From the ski lodge hike down across the bottom of the ski area to the dirt trail junction on the north side of the ski slope. Turn left at 34.27529oN 117.60894oW and an elevation of 7812 ft and hike up the steep dirt road for about 1.34 miles to the upper terminus of another ski lift where the dirt road ends and the trail begins at 34.28207oN 117.61789oW and an elevation of 8570 ft. A short way up the trail you will come to the eastern end of the Devil's Backbone, a narrow ridge trail with substantial exposure on both sides. A couple of hundred yards long this come to an end at about 34.28397oN 117.62890oW, an elevation of 9190 ft and 2.02 miles from the start. The trail the contours around the southern slopes of Mount Harwood and levels out before reaching the tree line at the Harwood Saddle at 34.28731oN 117.63825oW, and an elevation of 9370 ft some 2.62 miles from the start.
It is good to pause and get your breath in the shelter of the Saddle before embarking on the climb up the barren rock slopes that lead to the summit of Mount San Antonio (Mount Baldy) at 34.28919oN 117.64623oW and an elevation 10064 ft some 3.14 miles from the start. The summit is marked by a cast iron marker and several stone semi-shelters that may provide a welcome respite from the winds. There are breath-taking views in all directions: to the south into the San Gabriel Valley and to the north into the Antelope Valley. You may also wish to make a brief side trip over to the nearby peak of West Baldy which allows a view to the west down along the San Antonio Ridge to Iron Mountain.
On the summit of Mount Baldy with grandson, Payton Alaama
Last updated 4/1/02.
Christopher E. Brennen