This route makes an ideal variation to the standard Mt Baldy Village trail hike up to Mt San Antonio via Lookout Mountain. The climb isn't difficult in the soft soil and almost the entire approach before reaching the ridge line is in the shade. The advantage to this approach is that it is almost devoid of the standard brush that's prevalent on the San Gabriels.
View north shows Lookout's southern ridge at just about the spot that you would exit the canyon from the right. Photo courtesy of Mountain Impulse.
This route uses the Bear Canyon/Mt Baldy Village trail
for the approach. Parking can be found at the Visitor Center in Mt Baldy Village or at a couple of spots on Bear Canyon Road (most spots are for residential parking.) A loop trip via Route #2
or the standard Route #3
returns you to the same trailhead.
Looking south at the saddle between Lookout and Bump 5696'. Standard Route #3 climbs up from the left onto the saddle; Route #3 variation is above and behind the photographer. Photo courtesy of Mountain Impulse.
Hike the trail up to about the 4800’ contour line or just before the series of switchbacks begins. The easiest way to identify the point is a side trail heads north to the creek as the main trail turns eastward. There is a trace trail just before reaching the side trail that descends to the creek. Cross the creek and hike up the steep hill to the right of a small waterfall directly in front of you that flows into the main stream. If you’re carrying a compass, the bearing is roughly 255 degrees magnetic north as opposed to 255 true north as described in the HPS directions
(Note: the 14 degree difference between true and magnetic north is probably the reason the HPS trail was missed: i.e. wrong canyon.) Once above the steep wall, it is relatively easy to follow the creek uphill dodging brush occasionally as you ascend. Head up the canyon as far as possible and then begin hiking up the left side where it is relatively clear of brush. Careful route management will avoid the brush in this mostly tree covered slope until you reach the ridge top, somewhere between the saddle at 5480 feet and Lookout Mountain. Follow the ridge use trail up and around Lookout as described on the main page. Once you reach the east ridge, the use trail to the top is self evident.
Map shows the two different variations of Route 3 to Lookout's south ridge. Blue shows the traditional HPS route, red shows the variation described on this page, and white shows the approximate location of the trail to the top of Lookout.
No special equipment required. In the summer, ensure that you bring sufficient water along. In the winter, crampons and ax may be required if snow is present on the steep slope.