This route climbs up the southern ridge of Mt. Baldy up to its summit ridge. There are many breathtaking views along the way and from the summit. Once you leave your car, this route is entirely cross-country so bring a map. This is a fairly large dayhike gaining over 2200 ft. of elevation over 3-4 miles one way with some bushwhacking and loose rock and sand. This hike is very enjoyable and one of my favorites in the North Tahoe area. If you are new to route finding, this is a good warmer-upper because despite the lack of a trail, the way you need to go remains fairly obvious the whole time. Just keep following that ridge.
From downtown Kings Beach, drive east on CA 28 towards NV. Once you start to go up the hill, take a left on Beaver St. Follow Beaver upwards until it intersects with Cutthroat. From this intersection, make a slight right onto a Narrow road that quickly passes through some forest service gates(usually locked until mid-May) and turns to dirt. If you like, you can park on the left side of the road right after this entrance near a water tower. Continue on this road for around 1.5 miles until the road opens up and a road climbs steeply up to the right. If you have a low clearance vehicle you might want to park right past this intersection and walk up, although I have taken my VW Jetta up here many times. Take this road on the right up less than a mile staying on the straight and obvious travel route. You will reach a large flat area where the is a lot of party leftovers usually, including a smashed up car. Some locals call this place Sand Hill Flat.
From the large flat area where you parked your car(or walked to) turn straight north and begin walking straight up the hill and away from Lake Tahoe. Only a few hundred feet above you, you reach a rocky hilltop with some of your first views. Walk through the flat and keep climbing. A short ways from here you reach a tall rocky outcrop with amazing views from the edge. For the easy way around swing left(west) to avoid any scrambling. Keep going in your same direction up a steeper slope this time. You will reach a mini-summit with some power lines cutting up and over the ridge. This is an easily recognizable spot from kings beach. At this spot and in the small drop in the ridge afterwards there are some really thick spots of bushes that can be tough to manage. If you choose to walk around them it may be a ways out of your way. Climbing from here is just a long, continuous climb up the same ridge. There are a of mule ears that can be quite picturesque in the early summer. Eventually the ridge opens up and the trees start to disappear. There are a couple interesting rock formations on the way. The ridge keeps getting skinnier and rockier until you've reached a small flat spot in the ridge close to the top with just a few trees. This is the best view spot on the hike and what a lot of people consider the summit of Mt. Baldy. The actual summit is across the small dip and about 1/4 mile up on the right, its covered with scrubby trees and not very interesting or worth it unless you just want something to claim. Rifle peak is very close to the actual summit, just a short flat walk or slightly uphill walk to the north, and has excellent views to the north which have been absent for the rest of the hike. Descend the same way. One way is about 3-4 miles and climbs about 2250 ft.
Water. No water on this route so bring a bunch. A good topo map of the area with knowledge how to use it. Long pants are a good thought too due to some parts where you might have to brave some very scratchy Manzanita.
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