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 miles 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 view the trail and get directions:

View San Gabriel Mountains in a larger map
Or view Los Angeles trails and campgrounds 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.
Twin Peaks TrailTwin Peaks & Mount Waterman
This 11.65-mile hike extends a loop over Mount Waterman by dropping across a saddle and ascending to Twin Peaks, a panoramic summit in the center of the San Gabriel Mountains.
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.

34 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.

      • Shane says:

        I just finished the Baldy loop wearing my Vibrams (“five-finger shoes”), and I ran the downhill slopes that weren’t too steep without falls or scrapes. I’ve been doing this on Baldy off and on for four years now. Thus, heavy boots are not necessary, unless there is snow on the ground.

  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.

    • Shane says:

      But please be advised, finding parking can be prohibitive should you arrive past 7 on a weekend.

  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 […]

    • Justin says:

      Would it be dangerous to hike Mt. Baldy in early August? I’m sure it’ll be hot, which is okay, but what about forest fires?

      Thanks,
      Justin

  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

  9. Cesar says:

    Is there any snow on the ground at the base of the summit as of today (1-9-15)?

  10. Rob says:

    Are there any trail camps to make it a three day event, for a boy scout merit badge? Looking at memorial day weekend trip. Thanks in advance.

  11. Victor says:

    What is some of the best and most primary type of gear i should bring if I plan to go around the months of March or April? And how difficult would you say it is for a mountain dog. And could you camp up on the mountain?

  12. KP says:

    Can this hike be done this time of year? (is there snow??) Planning on hiking week-end of March 21-22, 2015

    • Dennis says:

      Hiked the loop today, March 10th. Very pleasant weather, 65 deg at the summit, clear, and a slight breeze. You will encounter snow on the trail above the ski hut (8300 ft Elev). Recommend attachments on your shoes like yaktrac to prevent slides or falls. Weekdays minimal hikers, only saw 6 hikers above the ski hut….lots of solitude and tranquility. Enjoy!

  13. […] Mount Baldy, which is the highest point in the San Gabriel Mountains, serves as a ski resort in the winter months and is located just an hour east of LA (map here). Before embarking on this trek, we read many articles and heard many stories about how to hike this 10,064 foot summit and in the end, we concluded that ascending via Baldy Bowl and descending along The Devil’s Backbone, making for an 11.3 mile hike, was the best route – we stand by this decision (Great post about the various trail options here.) […]

  14. BK says:

    Snow and ice would not be unusual in March and it could be dangerous even with good equipment (crampons, ice axe, maybe skis w/skins, etc.) if there is much on the roads and trail. The downhill ski area is still open, I think, so you might have trouble dodging skiers and finding the trail on this side and the trail from the fire road to the hut. People have been lost on an icy Devil’s Backbone. This loop would not be my choice right now (look for a hike at lower elevations).

    As far as dogs, I’ve had them on Baldy, but the jagged rocks are hard on the pads of their paws, especially those on the trail around the Sierra Club Ski Hut and the bowl. You might want to consider boots for dogs as the pads can take a long time to heal, even for a “mountain dog.” Keep looking at those paws. The biggest problem with the dogs is the water so you, and perhaps they as well with a doggie pack, must carry enough as the only places you’ll find it on this loop is the spring above the hut and the notch (top of the lower lift in the ski area).

    Before I die, I want to do the summit from Mount Baldy Village, about twice the distance of this loop and a few thousand more feet to climb; no water on this trail once you leave the canyon. This and Ice House Canyon might be a good place to hike while you are waiting for the snow and ice to clear higher up; I saw Big Horn Sheep on the trail a few miles up from the village having a much better time than I was (had a thigh muscle, injured in a motorcycle accident, go into spasm near the top and turned back when my companions were met on their way down). Good times had by all for the most part, though, unless you get into some trouble.

  15. Nicky says:

    I’m thinking of going up the Mt. Baldy trail next week but possibly running into a mountain lion or a bear gives me some serious pause. Is my fear warranted?

    • Christopher says:

      Seriously?! Don’t let this stop you from hiking! Fear not warranted – unless maybe you are a cat or a chuhuahua or a toddler hiking alone. Far more people are injured in vending machine accidents every year than in bear or lion accidents. Just read up on what to do if you encounter wildlife and go enjoy the trail!

  16. Sally says:

    I am thinking of hiking Mt. Baldy next weekend – April 25, 2015. Is there snow (cleats needed?) and how is the weather? How long does the 11.3 mile loop take for an average speed hiker?

  17. Blair Grotbeck says:

    I’m new to California. Does this hike require some sort of permit or pass that I need to purchase?

  18. […] can start the hike at the base of the Manker Flats trailhead or from the Baldy Bowl (or pick one of these other trail options). For those of you that are satisfied with a shorter, yet still intense hike, you can take the ski […]

  19. Great write-up! Are there any campgrounds to make this an overnight trip?

  20. bastien says:

    Hi, does it make sense to start the hike very early with headlamps in order to get on top for sunrise?

    • kishor says:

      Is it better to have devil’s backbone for descending part or for ascending part. I am not sure if I should go from San Antonio’s Fall side, which will make the devil’s backbone for descend. It I start from the ski lift side, then it will be for ascend. Which will be fun to do.

      • hikespeak says:

        Fair question. People go both directions, but I’ve only ever started by going up The Baldy Bowl – Sky Hut Trail. This gives you really nice views looking out over the surroundings as you come down Devil’s Backbone Trail. Enjoy the hike, whichever route you take…

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