Mount Baldy Hiking Trail loop San Gabriel Mountains Los Angeles Southern California Mt Baldy hike mt. baldy San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

Mount Baldy, Old Baldy, or more formally, Mount San Antonio — whatever you call this mountain, the trek to the summit is considered a right of passage for SoCal hikers. Baldy towers over the San Gabriel Mountains and is the highest point in the range. The far-reaching panoramic views found at the exposed 10,064-foot summit attract plenty of hikers. There are two major routes to the top: The Baldy Bowl – Sky Hut Trail and the Baldy NotchDevil’s Backbone Trail. Both hikes depart from Manker Flats and can be combined into one scenic and challenging 11.3-mile loop with 3,900 feet of elevation gain.

To hike the loop:

  1. Park along Mount Baldy Road just past Manker Flats Campground at the bottom of Falls Road.
  2. Start hiking up the paved road toward San Antonio Falls (0.6 miles)
  3. A third of a mile past the falls, turn left up a narrow unmarked trail and hike up to the Sierra Club Ski Hut (2.6 miles)
  4. Cross Baldy Bowl and hike north up a ridge to the summit (4.5 miles)
  5. Enjoy the view from the highest summit in the San Gabriel Mountains
  6. Descend eastward down Devil’s Backbone Trail across a daunting ridge to Baldy Notch (7.8 miles)
  7. Descend the dirt road next to the operating ski lift, passing San Antonio Falls to return to the trailhead (11.3 miles)

Mount Baldy
A view of West Baldy from the summit

A ski lift operating on weekends can be used to fly up to Baldy Notch and back for $20 (as of March, 2012). The lift cuts 1,500 vertical feet out of the hike (and may be condoned as cheating). The ski lift omits the least interesting segment of the hike, so utilizing it is understandable.

Different routes and starting points create a variety of lengths for hikes to Mount Baldy. The shortest hike to the summit, requiring the use of the ski lift, is 6.6 miles round trip with 2,350 feet of elevation gain and involves hiking up and back on Devil’s Backbone Trail. However, if you begin at the bottom of the mountain and hike up to Baldy Notch before crossing Devil’s Backbone Trail, that hike to the summit is 13.6 miles round-trip. To complicate things further, if you do not start hiking from the trailhead shared with Baldy Bowl Trail, you can park further up at the bottom of the ski lift and use a connection trail to reach the dirt road leading to Baldy Notch, cutting out 1.2 miles of trail each way (see the Manker Flats to Baldy Notch report for more information on this variation). The trail that passes the Sierra Club Ski Hut to reach the summit is 4.5-miles long (9 round-trip).

Mount Baldy Devil's Backbone Trail
Hiking down Devil’s Backbone Trail from the summit of Mount Baldy

When you decide to visit Baldy, consider all options including the recommended 11.3-mile loop. Each trail to the top has strenuous passages, but no rock climbing is required to reach the large bald summit. Dangerous winter conditions on Mount Baldy should be avoided.

Mount Baldy has clear views looking miles in every direction. Southern California’s other principal peaks (Mount San Jacinto, Mount San Gorgonio, and Santiago Peak) are all in view as well as a long list of peaks and valleys in the San Gabriel Mountains.

To get to the trailhead: Take the 210 east to Baseline Road (exit 52). Turn left at the light at the end of the ramp on to Baseline Road. Make the next right on to Padua Avenue. Drive 1.7 miles and turn right onto Mount Baldy Road (there will be a traffic light). Continue 7 miles up Mount Baldy Road through Mount Baldy Village (where there is a visitor center). and follow the road for another 4.4 miles up the mountain past Manker Flats Campground to the bottom of Falls Road on the left. Park along Mount Baldy Road, display an adventure pass, and begin hiking up Falls Road.

Trailhead address: Mount Baldy Road & Falls Road, Angeles National Forest, Mount Baldy, CA 91759
Trailhead coordinates: 34.266172, -117.62684 (34° 15′ 58.21″N 117° 37′ 36.62″W)

Use the map below to create your own directions to the trailhead:


View Mount Baldy Loop in a larger map
Or view Los Angeles Hikes in a larger map

Photos

San Antonio Falls
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Baldy Bowl – Ski Hut Trail
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Views from the summit of Mount Baldy
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Devil’s Backbone Trail
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The trail down from Baldy Notch
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These photos were taken in May of 2009 and March of 2012. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Icehouse Canyon angeles hikeIcehouse Canyon Trail to Icehouse Saddle
This 7.2-mile hike climbs 2,600 feet through a picturesque canyon to a saddle with panoramic views and extended hiking opportunities.
Baldy Angeles hikeBaldy Notch
To hike the scenic Devil’s Backbone to Mount Baldy, you must pass through Baldy Notch. You can hike to the notch, or take a ski lift.
Mount Baldy Angeles hikeBaldy Bowl – Ski Hut
The Baldy Bowl – Ski Hut Trail offers a steep but scenic ascent up the south side of Mount Baldy, crossing 4.5 miles and 3900 feet to the summit.
San Antonio Falls Los AngelesSan Antonio Falls
This 1.4-mile hike visits a multi-tier waterfall along the trail to Mount Baldy.
Baldy Angeles hikeBaldy Notch
To hike the scenic Devil’s Backbone to Mount Baldy, you must pass through Baldy Notch. You can hike to the notch, or take a ski lift.
Bridge to Nowhere hikeBridge to Nowhere
This adventurous 10-mile round trip hike reaches an abandoned and out-of-place bridge with a unique history.
Angeles hikeMore trails in the San Gabriel Mountains
Explore other destinations in the range.
Similar Trail
Mount Baden Powell hikeMount Baden-Powell
This 8.25-mile round trip hike ascends 2,834 feet to one of the tallest summits in the San Gabriel Mountains and a monument to Lord Baden-Powell, a BSA icon and the founder of the Scout Movement.
Mount WatermanMount Waterman in the Angeles National Forest
This 5.5-mile hike gradually ascends 1300 feet, passing through a pine forest to reach the round summit of Mount Waterman.
San Gabriel Peak Trail angeles hikeSan Gabriel Peak from Mount Lowe Road
This 6,161 foot peak is also reachable via a 3.2-mile round-trip trail from Eaton Saddle.
Sandstone Peak Malibu hikeSandstone Peak
This 6.25-mile loop summits the tallest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Camping
Manker Flats CampgroundManker Flats
Twenty-one sites service campers at the base of Mount Baldy. The grounds are nothing exciting, but if want a staging area for your ascent, this is it.

13 Comments on Mount Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains

  1. joel garzon says:

    What type of foot gear do you recommend? The wife wants to wear running shoes. We’re hiking Sunday July 13th and climbed Cucamonga peak last month. Any other gear recommendations? Thanks

    • hikespeak says:

      Running shoes can work if they’ve got good traction and you’re not too worried about your ankles. However, hiking boots will really help to get through the rocky and steep parts on this hike. If you’re doing that much hiking, I’d recommend getting a pair of decent hiking boots. I’ve been wearing Merrell’s Moab boots for a few years now and really like them, but you should find a pair that feels right for you. This is a long hike so bring plenty of water and wear/pack layers because conditions at the top can be different from the conditions at the bottom. Hiking poles will be helpful too. Hope that helps.

    • Eric says:

      I wore my “heavy” (for shoes) trail runners (NB 910) when we just did South Fork to the summit of San Gorgonio last weekend, up the Dollar Lake trail and down the Dry Lake trail (24 miles, 4700 elevation). I carried my big pack (albeit mostly empty) with water to make it weigh in at about 24 lbs. I had no problems at all with shoes although this was the first time I’d ditched my boots in favor of the shoes. Traction with them was excellent, much better than my boots (Scarpa Mustangs) and near the end of the day I was glad of the reduced weight. Only kicked one rock on the side of my leg that would have been protected by boots, otherwise the shoes were as good or better than boots.

  2. Kiley says:

    Are dogs allowed on the trail to mt baldy.

  3. […] Hikespeak: Lots of very detailed photos of the hike – definitely useful for the easily lost among us (me). […]

  4. Joe G, says:

    Do you need parking permit and where do you get it? Thanks.

  5. […] Go to Hikespeak.com for turn-by-turn trail directions […]

  6. Mariam says:

    I want to arrive early on a weekday morning around 6am do you know if there is accessible parking at that hour?

    • hikespeak says:

      Good plan! At that hour, you won’t have any problem parking along Mount Baldy Road at the bottom of Falls Road. There’s no access gate or other impediment to parking.

  7. […] hike up Mt. Baldy, the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains. It would be a long hike (the loop trail is just over 11 miles) and also one that would challenge my fears about elevations as the peak […]

  8. Eddie Garcia says:

    Hi I would like to know how may total miles to hike Mount Baldy? and what’s the earliest time of day possible to start the hike? Thank you

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