Timber Mountain is part of the group of peaks forming the eastern apex of the San Gabriel Mountains. It is located approximately four miles southeast of Mount Baldy
and six miles southwest of the San Andreas fault. Surrounded as it is by higher mountains, Timber offers one of the most remote-feeling experiences possible in the crowded mountains of Southern California. The standard trail from Icehouse Canyon stays mostly on south-facing slopes, making an ascent typically a snow-free (or nearly so) exercise, except in high snow years or soon after a major snowfall.
The name "Timber Mountain" was in use by hikers as far back as the 1930's, but didn't show up on USGS maps until 1953. Convincing the USBGN to officially adopt the name required the cooperation of the nearby Mount Baldy ski area operators. They went along with it in part because the name "Timber" evoked the kind of tree-covered idyll that "Mount Baldy" didn't, and because (at least according to one source) it fit in with a promotional gimmick that involved changing the name of nearby Mount Harwood (the name "Harwood" was transferred to a somewhat insignificant bump on the east ridge of Baldy) to "Thunder Mountain", thereby creating "the three T's" (Telegraph Peak being the third "T"). The three T's are joined by a good trail that starts in Icehouse Canyon and ends at Baldy Notch. Although it requires a car shuttle, it is a terrific day hike for those who want to experience the San Gabriel high country.
Exit the 210 Freeway at Mountain Avenue in Upland, and follow Mountain Avenue to its junction with Mount Baldy Road. Continue up Mount Baldy Road until reaching the Icehouse Canyon Resort, located about 1.5 miles past Baldy Village. There is a large parking lot with toilet facilities. Icehouse Canyon is very popular with hikers and strollers. Even in winter the lot can fill up by mid morning on weekend days.
A private road continues for another 100 yards or so past the east end of the parking lot. Follow this to a small dirt lot. The trail is marked by a small sign. From here is it approximately 4.5 miles and 3,300 feet to the summit of Timber Mountain. There are a few branches, but the trail is well signed, and one would have to work hard to get lost. From the summit you may either return the way you came, or continue on to Telegraph Peak
(another 1.5 miles), Thunder Mountain
(another mile), and Baldy Notch (two additional miles). From Baldy Notch you can either pay to ride the chairlife down (assuming you've arrived at a time when it's operating), or walk another 3.5 miles down a dirt road to Manker Flat. The traverse of the three T's is easier (less elevation gain) if you start at the Manker Flat side, and easiest if you ride the chair lift up to Baldy Notch.
There is also a nice hike from the east (access from I-15) up the Lytle Creek drainage. See wingding's route description
Timber Mountain lies in the Cucamonga Wilderness within Angeles National Forest
. A National Forest Adventure Pass is required to park in the ANF. Annual passes are $30, and day passes are $5. Passes can be purchased an Forest Service offices and virtually any sporting goods store in Southern California. They are available in Baldy Village and at Manker Flat.
I’ve never camped overnight here, and it’s not clear whether wilderness permits are required or not. More to the point, there are very few spots with both water and sufficient flat ground to make camp. Most recreational users are day hikers, but some trails are long enough (and have water en route) to allow for overnight stays.
For more information call the USFS Visitors Center in Baldy Village (909) 982-2829 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Tuesday through Sunday, or contact:
San Gabriel River Ranger District
Angeles National Forest
110 North Wabash Avenue
Glendora, CA 91741
When To Climb
Just about any time. This can be a hot, dry hike in the summer, but it’s not out of the question. In many years, there is very little snow fall and the peak can be an easy, cool walk on dry ground in the winter.
Most people do day hikes in the area. Car camping is available at the Forest Service’s Manker Flat Campground for $12/night ($10/night if you hold an annual adventure pass. The Manker Flat campground closes in the winter months.
The Forest Service office provide current conditions (See "Red Tape" above for a link). Quite frankly, I've found the weather.com is just as good.