Great weather, crampons needed in some areas. Nine hours up
and back. Great Day.
Windy and snowy
This was part of a trip that involved Santiago Peak, San Gorgonio Mountain, and Mt. San Antonio. I had just about 48 hours to get in as much as possible before spending a couple days with a couple friends to meet their new baby, and I decided to make the most of it.
I slept toward San Bernardino and spent a leisurely morning checking out a couple other stops along the way to Manker Flat. So by the time I actually got to Manker Flat, it was around 1 in the afternoon. No worries, except the Santa Ana winds that were not present on San Gorgonio certainly made their presence known today.
There were plenty of folks walking the road leading to the falls. Unfortunately, I walked a full 1/2-mile past the junction up to Mt. San Antonio because I was zoned out. I doubled back and headed up the trail once I realized my mistake, irritated I had cost myself the time with an already late start.
From the junction to the summit, I encountered roughly the same number of people as I did on San Gorgonio the day prior. So if it felt a little more crowded, it was only because I met the same number of people in about 1/4 the distance. The last person I met was right around the ski hut, and from that point to the summit and all the way back down I saw no one.
From 8800' up there is no shortage of options for paths, and the most direct route is not always obvious. Keep an eye out for the skiers' posts to guide your way (the first one is at about 9100'). Not that most of these other paths would lead one astray -- at least, I do not think they would -- but it will save you any second-guessing.
From about 9200' up West Baldy imposes itself on the skyline to your left. Yet this is not Mt. San Antonio, which is at that point closer than it seems. You will not see the summit until you are about right on top of it.
At the summit the Santa Ana winds really picked up to the point of being unpleasant. I was really ready to descend about as soon as I got there, but West Baldy's proximity in height to Mt. San Antonio seemed too close for comfort to me, so I took the 10 minutes to trundle on over to its summit, where I took a short break behind some rocks as shelter from the winds.
I was quite shocked that I received no cell signal at all on these 2 summits, given their close proximity to the megalopolis below and the fact that I have received signal on far more remote peaks. Alas I could not alert my friends to warn them I would be a few hours later than planned, so I did my best to make good time back to the car. I made it back right around sunset, and most all other vehicles had cleared out.
It was beautiful up here; I could see how this would be a mainstay for L.A. hikers and skiers.
Wife and I are always in this area before summer kicks in. Lovely day to hike and the devil's backbone was amazing
Used hikerguy.com guide for the notch -> devils backbone -> ski hut loop. Got above marine layer to enjoy the sea of white clouds. Took 6 hours and 25 minutes. Very windy. Trekking poles a lifesaver.
I was on the summit on 2019-08-04 roughly between 10:25am - 10:45am, and didn't see anything amiss. Maybe 30-35 people sitting or coming through. About half an hour later, a helicopter began circling the summit, and according to another hiker I passed during descent, landed at the summit. I wonder what went wrong, and in such a hurry - 30 minutes from when I left, minus flight time for the helicopter.
I used Cris Hazzard's guide here:
Counterclockwise, up Devil's Backbone, down the Baldy Bowl/Ski Hut trail. Leaving the trailhead, there were many other hikers, but nearly all went clockwise. I enjoyed the relative quiet of hiking counterclockwise, only passing a few hikers on the way up. (On the way down, I passed many hikers still on their way up the Baldy Bowl/Ski Hut trail.)
Arrive early, and afford yourself the luxury to choose a parking spot. Park somewhere that will be shaded in 7-8 hours, under the trees on the "southbound" side of the center median. I arrived at about 06:45 and parked on the northbound side. The car was an oven when I returned to it.
Passed the trailhead just before 7am. I would have liked to arrive an hour earlier, just after sunrise; it would have been light enough to see, but cooler for that extra hour.
Ascending counterclockwise was far more gradual, and easier on the way up. The views were very nice just after the Baldy Notch, before the trail it takes the westward turn. This portion, a ski slope, was steeper than the earlier distances, but manageable. The strong cool winds were very welcome.
A short distance after the left turn (and after the Turkey Shoot rejoins your path), the true "backbone" begins, and the path narrows considerably. A few feet wide, there's plenty of flat ground to stand on, but be deliberate.
Where the trail switches from atop the ridge to the southwest-ish side of the ridge (look at 3D Google Maps along the trail to see what I mean), there is a fork. The right path will have you ascend a few hundred feet to Mt. Harwood, before descending to re-join the trail. I saw one group go that way and almost made the same choice, but opted for the flatter left path. I'm happy I did so, as it saved some energy. Maybe the views from the top of the right path are worth it though (I can't say). Note that this is clearly pointed out in Cris's guide; I forgot that particular instruction.
After a while, you come to the last section of the backbone, which is considerably steep and seems rather unending (though it isn't actually that long). It was a slog to reach the top, and my calves were burning toward the end.
I reached the summit around 10:20. Photographed the plaque, etc., and enjoyed sitting on a rock for lunch.
After 20-30 minutes atop Los Angeles County, I began descent via the Baldy Bowl trail. Staying on track wasn't difficult. There are some forks, but usually merely different paths around a particular feature, and they join again within a few yards. Descent was pretty steep, and much of the trail is loose pebbles or dirt, so I slid small distances a dozen or so times. Otherwise, the descent felt pretty monotonous. I felt my calves sometimes quivering on the descent. I've been training for climbing stairs, but need to add significant calf exercise to the mix.
Unfortunately most of this trail is fairly protected from wind (it is in a bowl, after all), and the heat set in to make it muggy and generally less enjoyable than the cool breeze on the backbone ascent. For this reason, next time I hike Baldy I'll likely go clockwise around the loop, taking advantage of the cool morning in the Bowl, and hopefully the cold wind on the descent to counteract the sun and afternoon temperature. In my focus on getting back down, I didn't drink as much water on the descent, and ended up with a sudden headache about two hours after leaving the trailhead (well back into low LA elevation); I suspect I was dehydrated. I need to be more diligent about water consumption.
I didn't note the time when I reached the trailhead, but I was in town an hour away from the campground before 2pm, so it must have been just before 1pm, putting the total time at roughly 6 hours. I question that, if only because it's an hour shy of estimates made by far more experienced hikers. Anyway, it was good to be back. I brought frozen sports drinks that had all but thawed, making an excellent icy drink.
This hike was difficult, but well worth the time and effort.
This is the 500th climber's log entry for Baldy! I've lived in Southern California my whole life, and never made it to the top until today. Interesting groups of people taking this hike on a sunny (hot) Saturday, but not nearly as crowded as, say, South Sister on a *weekday.* Fantastic clouds everywhere. There was still one patch of snow near the summit... in August!
Slogged up from Manker Flats - fantastic to stop for refreshment on the way down at the Notch bar/restaurant!
Solo hike starting at the Manker Flat campground around 6 AM and reaching the summit around 9 AM. Checked out the nearby summit of West Baldy as well. Picture perfect day.
Since I attended university in plain view of Mt. Baldy, I had always wanted to climb it. A friend and I finally made the time to do it a year after graduating while visiting the area again.
Really beautiful hike! Started from Manker Flat (around 7:30am) and had micro spikes + poles pretty much from the start. A few little rockfalls along the fire road, but overall pretty mellow climb up to the Baldy Ski Lodge. From there, we headed up the Turkey Shoot, which already had a bunch of boot traffic and decently solid snow, before heading to the Devil Backbone. The backbone had good snow cover for the most part except for a few icy spots where it was great to have the spikes + take it slow. Really windy and pretty icy along the summit ridge and at the summit itself, but again, manageable with microspikes and persistence. Took the ski hut trail back around the side of the bowl (which looked like it had a few mini-slides higher up) through lots of fun and knee high powder. Lower down the snow was pretty slippery due to how late in the day it was, but sidestepping and taking it slow did the trick. Total hiking time took about 10 hours moving at a leisurely pace. Beautiful conditions overall!
Great Hike just before the snow flies. I took the Chair Lift up from Mt. Baldy Ski Resort (at the dead end of Mt. Baldy Road). They charged $15 for a one-way ride and $25 for a round trip. I rode the chair lift up and hiked back down the fire road (this is the portion of the hike just to and from the Chalet at the top). It's a shorter using the chair of course but still took a good effort for this hiker (parking lot round trip time for me was 5 hours and 20 minutes at a measured pace). If you take the chair up, there is no way to summit without taking the Devil's Backbone; the DB was Spectacular. The operator at the top told me that the chairs run all Winter (obviously) but also all Summer. It operates just on weekends (Fri, Sat, Sun) during the slower times of Spring and Fall. It was Very cold at the top with a stiff wind. Puffy jacket and gloves needed for this time of year. There was no snow yet. Fantastic views from the top. Perhaps one of the very best views for the effort (if you like seeing civilization below as I do). I did the whole descent at night without incident notwithstanding the failure of my GPS (or rather my failure to bring the charging cord for my GPS). I had an amazing steak & shrimp dinner at the Mt. Baldy Lodge in Mt. Baldy Village following the hike and would highly recommend a well-earned respite there if time allows. The lodge is over 100 years old and has that great classic Alpine feel. Have great hikes everybody!
Via Devil's Backbone with my brother
Huge day with Henry Chen. Started at Manker Flat at 2:30 AM, reached the summit of Baldy at sunrise, then traversed San Antonio Ridge to Iron, then down to Heaton Flat.
nice hike, went through bowl
With Mount Harwood, Devils Backbone, Thunder Mountain & Gold Ridge.
North Backbone Trail (AKA the REAL backbone) along with Dawson and Pine.
We came for the FYF festival that weekend and to detox from the festivities we decided a to gnab a few Ultras (Gorgonio the next day) while in the area and visiting my brother. Note at this time the Blue Ridge Truck trail was gated after Guffy Campground making it 1.5 miles longer each way (though a fairly flat 1.5 miles that can be traveled on the excellent PCT.) A truck or jeep or mountain bike could make it past the gate at a steep bypass to the true TH.
I was surprised at how much I like this trail given my overall low opinion of the LA area. We saw nobody until the summit and although the views to the ocean were hazy they gave the peaks a nice layered look. The forest was up to Pine mountain with Sugar, Ponderosa and eventually a very nice limber pine forest with one very peculiar and ancient incense cedar growing on the ridge that had twisted to look more like an old bristlecone than an incense cedar. Fun day, tomorrow was San Gorgonio.
Ultra #40 and U.S. Super prominence peak (4,000+ ft prominence) #71/142, halfway baby!
Oh I've lost count at the number of times I've been to the top of Baldy. I've been up three different routes and down three different routes - The Ski Hut trail (Baldy Bowl), Register Ridge and then down the Devils Backbone, up the Baldy Village (Bear Canyon Trail) and down the same way. The second time I did the Baldy Village trail, I left my bike at Manker Flat and came down the Ski Hut trail. Oh, I've also been down the scree slope between Baldy and Harwood at least three times.
Winter ascent, up via Register Ridge, down via the Ski Hut.
Climbed up to the top of the Baldy Bowl. My GPS said I was 300 feet from the top. However, I slipped and fell... all the way down to the ski hut. I probably should have died, but I caught a tree on the way down. There were 6 other climbers who witnessed it. My GPS says I fell 1000 feet.