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Baldy Notch/Devil's Backbone
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Baldy Notch/Devil's Backbone

 
Baldy Notch/Devil\'s Backbone

Page Type: Route

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 34.28890°N / 117.6458°W

Object Title: Baldy Notch/Devil's Backbone

Route Type: Hike

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: Walk-up, 3,900 ft elevation gain

Route Quality: 
 - 26 Votes
 

 

Page By: mdostby

Created/Edited: Sep 5, 2001 / Jun 27, 2004

Object ID: 155762

Hits: 30951 

Page Score: 85.53%  - 21 Votes 

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Approach


Park at Manker Flat. Parking is on the west side of the divided road a 1/2 mile below the Baldy Ski Lifts. A National Forest Adventure Pass is required for your vehicle while parked the the trailhead. This can be obtained at the Visitor Center in Baldy Village for $5.00 a day or $30.00 for an annual pass.

Route Description


Walk past the locked gate of Falls Road and follow the dirt road for almost 2 miles to the ski lodge. This is Baldy Notch. Follow any of the ski runs west to the top or the ski area boundry. From the top of the ski lift, follow the fire road up the ridge. The fire road ends at the Devil's Backbone, and it is a trail from there on up to the summit. 13 miles round trip. Many people opt to park at the ski area parking and take the first ski lift up to Baldy Notch. If the lift is running this will knock off almost 4 miles round trip and 1,500 feet of elevation gain.

Essential Gear


Water. Snowshoes, crampons and ice axe may be needed in wintertime depending on snowpack.

Miscellaneous Info


Register Ridge Variation
Author: Mike Zimmerman

Date: June 27, 2004 2:50 PM
Follow the San Antonio Ski Hut Trail route as if you are heading up to the Ski Hut. When you take the turn off to the left off of the fire road, head up the trail that goes to the Sierra Club Ski Hut. Look for a rusted register box on the right side of the trail. You will notice that the trail makes a sharp turn towards the north as you hike up from the register box, travel up the trail approximately 40 meters past the register box. There is a use trail that goes up to the right, follow this up onto the ridge.

This is the ridge that you will follow all the way up and is the SE Ridge, called Register Ridge, that goes up toward the summit of Mt. Harwood. Stay on the ridge, which is pretty steep, and keep climbing up. You will come to a distinct flat spot, about 3/8 of a mile below the Baldy Notch Trail. From here, this is the steepest part of the route in which you gain about 800 feet in a quarter of a mile. Eventually, the climb up the SE Ridge meets the Baldy Notch Trail, just SE of the summit of Mt. Harwood. Turn left on the trail and head west toward the summit of Mt. Baldy.

The elevation gain is the same as the San Antonio Ski Hut Trail and the distance is probably about the same. I recommend the San Antonio Ski Hut Trail, which has a sign along the way down that says Baldy Bowl Trail, for a descent route.

This is a strenuous varation to climb Baldy, it has some nice views on both sides of the ridge and if you want some solitude from the weekend crowds, this is a good option. If you do this climb after all of the snow has melted, bring plenty of water, since there are no water sources until you get down to the SA Ski Hut, where there is a small run-off stream.

Additions and Corrections

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Glenn CampbellRoute Comment

Glenn Campbell

Hasn't voted

The trail is almost completely unmarked, except by use, so first-time visitors should have a detailed map -- or at least study one at the Visitor Center.





The trail starts near two porta-potties at a dirt road junction at Manker Flat. This a broad area is just after the Manker Flat Campground. In season, there may be many cars parked here, but there is ample parking space.





If you drive beyond Manker Flat for about a mile, the road ends at the base of the ski lifts. Some people choose to start hiking from here and hike straight up beneath the ski lifts, but this trail is unnecessarily steep and loose, and signs warn that the parking lot gate is locked at 6:30pm. It is much easier to return to Manker Flat, even though you lose some altitude.





On the access road from Manker Flat (Falls Road), the route is gentle and unambiguious. It follows the access road for about 2 miles to the group of buildings at the top of the first ski lift. Just stay on the access road until you reach a four-way junction; then look up the road to the left and you'll see the ski lodge. Once you reach the lodge, there appear to be several possible routes to the west. For the easiest route, follow the access road leading toward the top of the left-side ski lifts. Judging from trail wear, most people go straight up a steeper ski slope. The gentler access road is to the left of this trail, and it snakes up the ridge rather than going straight up.





Once you reach the top of the 2nd ski lift, the trail gets more interesting. It follows the edge of a narrow ridge (the Devil's Backbone) and then snakes along the edge of some steep slopes. There is no serious danger during the day in the summer, but the trail could be difficult at night or in snow.





Befitting its "Old Baldy" name, the summit is a bare dome covered with rocks and gravel. At the summit are several crude rock windbreaks. These are horseshoe-shaped piles of stone that are just high enough (2-3 feet) to protect campers from the wind. Perhaps 15 people can sleep here. There is another similar windbreak in a much more protected location along the trail below the summit.
Posted Jul 17, 2002 8:56 am
mdostbyRoute Comment

mdostby

Hasn't voted

Thanks for adding this good information. I'm sure it will be usefull.





mdostby
Posted Jul 17, 2002 2:33 pm
Mike ZimmermanRoute Comment

Mike Zimmerman

Hasn't voted

Follow the San Antonio Ski Hut Trail route as if you are heading up to the Ski Hut. When you take the turn off to the left off of the fire road, head up the trail that goes to the Sierra Club Ski Hut. Look for a rusted register box on the right side of the trail. You will notice that the trail makes a sharp turn towards the north as you hike up from the register box, travel up the trail approximately 40 meters past the register box. There is a use trail that goes up to the right, follow this up onto the ridge.





This is the ridge that you will follow all the way up and is the SE Ridge, called Register Ridge, that goes up toward the summit of Mt. Harwood. Stay on the ridge, which is pretty steep, and keep climbing up. You will come to a distinct flat spot, about 3/8 of a mile below the Baldy Notch Trail. From here, this is the steepest part of the route in which you gain about 800 feet in a quarter of a mile. Eventually, the climb up the SE Ridge meets the Baldy Notch Trail, just SE of the summit of Mt. Harwood. Turn left on the trail and head west toward the summit of Mt. Baldy.





The elevation gain is the same as the San Antonio Ski Hut Trail and the distance is probably about the same. I recommend the San Antonio Ski Hut Trail, which has a sign along the way down that says Baldy Bowl Trail, for a descent route.





This is a strenuous varation to climb Baldy, it has some nice views on both sides of the ridge and if you want some solitude from the weekend crowds, this is a good option. If you do this climb after all of the snow has melted, bring plenty of water, since there are no water sources until you get down to the SA Ski Hut, where there is a small run-off stream.
Posted Jun 27, 2004 2:50 pm
mdostbyRoute Comment

mdostby

Hasn't voted

I added the Register Ridge Variation to the Baldy Notch Route page. Maybe you'd like to add it as a new route. Thanks.





-Mike
Posted Jun 27, 2004 11:29 pm
mvpolFire Road Distance

mvpol

Voted 7/10

Using the Google Earth "Measure" Function and measuring from a topo map the fire road from Manker Flats to Baldy Notch is about 3.25 miles (one-way). On a hot day this road can be quite hot and exposed so bring sunscreen! A short side trip to San Antonio Falls is worth the minimal effort.
Posted Jul 2, 2006 3:47 pm

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