Middle Fork Trail to Icehouse Saddle is a 9.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Lytle Creek, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Wonderful strenuous hike up Lytle Creek canyon to icehouse saddle. If you are tired of the crowds on the icehouse canyon trail, then this one is for you. The price is an extra 1200 ft elevaton gain and few extra miles. The trailhead too is down a rough road. High clearance vehicles recommended. A hike up the dramatic Lytle Creek canyon. The trail is a continuous climb up the canyon alternating between rock scree slopes and wooded trail. All in all, a pretty steep climb. Finish at the popular Icehouse Saddle where you can relax if the wind isn't too bad. The views coming down are continuous, dramatic and inspiring. The trail is sometimes small with loose rocks on the downhill side. Watch your step. Nearing the top at the end of March, we had to cross a few snowy spots that will slow you down. My friends have snowshoed this same trail.
I find this to be one of the best hikes in So Cal. A bit remote so it isn't ever crowded meaning if you see three other groups it is a busy day. Wonderful trees and running water year round. Past three stream crossing camp site it gets very steep for a mile or so but you are mostly walking through shaded forest. Go see the Whats in our backyard
Amazing scenery, giant trees, fun stream to walk along. I would love to do it again, next time would be nice if I had a vehicle with a little more clearance, had to hike at least a mile to reach the trailhead because of road conditions
Was excited to try this trail butwas unable to make the drive up middle fork road due to road conditions. definitely gonna try coming back when i have adequate transportation. but for now writing the review just to give you guys a heads up make sure you're in a durable vehicle that can handle some off-road conditions!
Wonderful views, scenery and very challenging but worth it. My little Boston terrier loved it!!
This trail comes up the backside of Icehouse Saddle. To get to the Lytle Creek (Middle Fork) trailhead you have to drive on a dirt road for a few miles. It was a bit rough so it was nice having all wheel drive, though it wasn't mandatory. There is a port-o-potty at the trail head. We started at 730am. We first went to the falls, off-trail from Lytle Creek, which was 2.6 miles in. We should have followed a stream joining up with Lytle Creek on the left (or south side) and then taken that up until it dead ends with the falls. But we accidentally passed the stream and then just took a left (south) at an indeterminate point, you walk off-trail until you meet the smaller stream and then follow it up to the falls. The falls were three-tiered. It was very cool, the water level was extremely low. The low water level allowed us to get the falls much easier, if the water level is too high it might be near impossible to follow the stream up to the water falls (you would definitely be hiking in water shoes). At the bottom of the final water fall the pool was quite deep. Two guys were planning to rappel down the falls, unfortunately we didn't get to see them do it. We ate a snack there and left because we had much more trail to cover.
It was difficult to find the trail again which leads up to Icehouse Saddle. After wandering around a bit we finally found it going straight up a ridge. From here out it was quite a steep, rough trail. Not many people take this trail so it was quite difficult. It had a strong slope to it, not a nice flat cut in the slope so it hurt the outside tendon of my knee facing downhill. The last mile was very steep, and I was very tired by this point. This unkept trail exhausted me, I would not take this trail again to the saddle, only to the falls. We got to Icehouse Saddle at 6.6 strenuous miles in and had lunch. The way down hurt my other outside knee tendon, at least it balanced out. It took 4 hours up (including waterfalls) and 2.5 hours down, we stayed at the saddle for half an hour. Thunder and lightning started right as we were finishing the trail. It rained once we got off the dirt road and stopped when we got to the freeway.
I would have rated it a 1/5 stars if not for the waterfall we stopped at. I hate unkept trails. The saddle rules though, but I'll get to it from the Baldy side from now on.
Strenuous is right! This hike is strenuous alright, but not difficult. The trail was great with only a few loose rocky parts. For the most part it was almost a constant incline, but really no steep parts. It was definitely less abusive to my poor tender feet than Ice House trail. It starts out exposed and has some more exposed sections higher up, but there is plenty of shade on the rest.
11 miles doesn't seem that far, but it feels far after you've done it. If you go in summer go early and bring plenty of fluids. I brought 4 liters and ran out 2 miles from the trailhead, so did 2 others of the 5 I hiked with.
The road to the trailhead is rough, but any 2WD with adequate ground clearance can make. Don't leave valuables in your car or truck, as is not uncommon, opportunistic thieves sometimes hit the parked vehicles at the trailhead.
I'll do this trail again when the memory of the climb fades and my feet are less sore.
A challenging climb particularly in hot conditions, you will need 3.5-4liters of water or alternatively bring tablets to use in the streams. Watch out for the occasional rattlesnake, though they give you plenty of warning! The course isnt well marked so keep an eye out for small rocks that define the route. The view at the top isnt particularly rewarding but the descent offers beautiful views from halfway down onwards. A good climb if you are looking to build stamina in preparation for bigger hikes.