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

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

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.
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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.

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