Hiking Mt San Antonio (Mt Baldy) is one of those experiences where, as you doing it, you’re questioning your life choices of climbing mountain for fun. But then it all make complete sense when you reach that summit. Oh that glorious summit!
At 10,064 feet this is a beast of a hike. With varies trail option available and 4,000 feet in elevation gain, this is by no means a beginners hike. Know your hiking ability and be prepared before taking on Mt Baldy.
In this blog post I cover two different times hiking Mt Baldy with two various routine options. Read on… enjoy!
Why We Hike Mt Baldy
Last October me, Lemon, and some of our friends decided it would be a grand ol’ time to wake up at 4am and go hike Mt Baldy.
Flash forward to this week when me, my mom and some of our friends decided to wake up at 4:30am to conquer Mt Baldy yet again.
Now let’s get a couple things straight.
1) I love to hike and after my summit last October I found Lemon likes it too. (We’re meant to be!)
2) For anyone that even slightly knows me they know that, I’m the worst morning person that has ever existed! I’ve had boyfriends, friends, and even my own mother tell me they have been scared of the person I am before 9 am, ok I admit some of them even said before noon. (Yeah, that bad!!) At 4:30 am no one in their right mind should be up. Well unless you are…
A) A mother with a newborn baby. I hear those little things are up all night and I also hear new mothers saying that the 4am crying wake up alarm is maddening.
B) On a morning TV show. Well now they have no choice it’s their job, but if they had a choice they’d probably still be in bed. But I do hear they have the best commute time!
C) A vampire. Enough said, I’m not Bella Swan.
D) Still out from the night before! And well odds are you’re in Las Vegas or NYC! *I don’t live in either of those cities!
SO I don’t want to be in situation A, B, C, or D..so why am I subjecting myself to these early am wake up call you ask?!?
Cause hiking Mt Baldy as the sun rises is the $h!+! So yeah I woke up the fam at crack of dawn and took to the mountains!
Other reasons to get your butt up and climb Mt Baldy.
- It’s a SoCal icon
- It’s part of the Six Pack of Peaks
- Parking will be easier the earlier you arrive!
- Elevation 10,064ft
- Roughly 11 miles (loop option)
- Fido Friendly
- Can get crowded
- Difficulty: Hard
If you can start hiking as the sun is rising, you’ll be blown away by the views. Just make sure you have a headlamp or flashlight if you start hiking while it’s still dark. I lost 2 of Lemon’s booties once in the dark and had to back track as the sun was rising to find them on the trail. That silly dog.
We normally start our hike just passed the Manker Flat campground. From here you have two options a 11.3 mile loop down Devil’s Backbone or up to summit and back the way you came, roughly 9 miles! At Manker Flats you’re sitting at 6,000 ft. You’ll follow the fire road till you reach the trail head. Here are some views from the fire road.
When you see the marker for Baldybowl Trail you’ll need to make sure that you take that trail on the left (where the people are in the image above) and DON’T continue up the fire road. You’ll now be on a small trail making your way up the mountain.
Remember hiking Baldy can be extremely strenuous, but stopping every now and again to take in these views, makes it all worth it! So go and ahead take a well needed break at the San Antonio Ski Hut. This is basically your half way point to summit. Relax, sit back, enjoy the views and have a much deserved snack!
After your break, you’ll keep climbing but the terrain will change for a bit. You’ll see more rocks and less actual trail. This section is also my least favorite and very steep.
You’re on the home stretch now. You’ll start seeing more open views of the mountains around you. Look for these trail markers as well you help you stay on the right path.
Reaching the summit is an amazing experience. It never gets old. There are always other people at summit that are just as excited and it’s fun to meet them and all join in on celebrating. When Lemon reached summit she got a lot of high fives! She was also slightly terrified of the wind!!
We usually hang out for a bit at summit, hiding from the wind, behind little man made rock walls. And then we start the trek down.
I’ll share images of descending Devil’s Backbone since you can easily retrace your steps back if you picked the out and back option to Manker Flat.
Also don’t be fooled, the way down can be difficult too. And this is usually when my body starts telling me it’s ready to sit down, lay down, or for goodness sake just stop moving!
It can be so steep going down that we have a rule, if you fall 5 times on your booty you’re buying the group a round!! *I’ve never had to buy a round! 🙂
And when you finally get back to your car you’ll totally feel accomplished. And in Lemon’s sake you crash quickly and sleep on your owners lap. What a life!!
Tips and Tricks
- Hike Baldy in the early am, not just because of the crowds but in the summer this will help ya beat the heat.
- Even if it’s hot it most likely will be chilly at summit. So it you plan on hanging out there for a bit, bring a jacket.
- Bring plenty and plenty of water, again this isn’t an easy hike and you’ll need the water.
- Bring sun block and something to protect your face from the wind.
- Celebrate your victory with a drink at Mount Baldy Lodge.
- Bag Some Other Peaks
- Don’t Forget Your Adventure Pass
- SoCal Hikers Guide To Baldy
- Get Snacks Before You Head Up
Disclaimer: Don’t use this blog post as your only resource for hiking Mount Baldy. I’m only sharing my experience with you. This shouldn’t be considered a guideline. This is a very serious hike, you should map out your entire game pan before taking on the mountain!
Happy Trails…Adventure Awaits!