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Mount San Antonio (Mount Baldy) Professional Review and Guide
"A great escape from the noise and crowds of Los Angeles, minutes from downtown. This loop hike takes you from the desert into pine forest. The summit is the high point of the San Gabriel Mountains. Mount San Antonio, or Mount Baldy as it is often called, is a refreshing oasis in the midst of the Los Angeles urban sprawl. The route described is a loop, chosen for its variety of terrain and eclectic biotic zones. This route combines the Baldy Bowl Trail (also known as the Ski Hut Trail) for the ascent, with the Devils Backbone Trail and Manker Canyon Fire Trail for the descent."
--Jay Anderson, Climbing California's Mountains (Falcon Guides).
Great trail for a quick day hike. All the trail was easy to follow, but quite tiring as the slope was steep the whole way.
Not a review, an addendum:
Where the trail description states that the take-off of the Baldy Bowls trail is easily missed, add "The take off from the service road is about 5 minutes past the falls. If you are still on the road after 10 minutes turn around -- you missed it."
(I should know -- I missed it, as did the other hiker I met on the trail that day.)
This is a great hike-very strenuous up the way we went-via the ski hut trail from Manker's Flat (not to be confused with the ski lodge). However, as we were coming back down the Devil's backbone we concluded that going up via that route was no picnic either. The views are fantastic in all directions. The most spectacular vista is along the saddle as you descend from the Devil's backbone towards the ski lodge. We still haven't done the Baldy Trail from the Ranger station for comparison. It seems there is no bad way to get to the top. There are parts that are surprisingly lush...but if you want to stock up on icy cold water purify some at the stream just before you reach the ski hut. It's bone dry from then on. Somehow we didn't see the plane crash-perhaps we were too distracted with the hike itself. The other thing to note: we were told it was way too crowded on summer weekends, but we only saw one large group at the ski hut and at the top, we shared the view with only a handful of hikers. It wasn't too crowded at all. In summary, if you live in Souther Cal and you love to hike, you have to do Old Baldy at least once.
This is an outstanding hike for those looking for a great cardiovascular workout. It is a steady incline all the way to the ski notch via the fire access road. Once you get to the notch (approx 8Kft), you can go to the peak which is 10K+ ft. If you are training for a mountaineering expedition, this is an excellent leg of the hike to turn it up. The vertical is challenging, especially with gear on your back. If you are going to the top, make sure you have proper layering, weather is unforgiving and changes fast up there. Stay away from the ridgelines at the peak if you aren't experienced or don't have proper equipment. It get's real icy and it is very dangerous. Several people have died from falls up there in the last 10 years. The terrain is slippery even without ice. Take the challenge of getting as close to the peak as possible without venturing out across the ridgeline. It is a great day in the mountains and invigorating when you get to the top without even without going to the peak.
Great hike! A bit strenuous for a novice backpacker, which I was. Took me 8 hours to the peak and back down because I went down the wrong side of the slope and had to climb back up, but I definitely would do it again!
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