Explore summer 18 - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Definitely strenuous, recommend being in very good shape. Totally worth every second! Extraordinary views at every point. Truly stunning. Highly recommend

Good hike stayed the night and enjoyed the sunrise

This is a very unique and rewarding hike! We started at 7am sharp from the parking area just above Manaker Flats campground. The trail was pretty quiet being on a Thursday. After 3 hours and 15 minutes, we reached the summit. On the way up, we took the service road to the top of the chair lift and followed Devils Backbone Trail to the summit. Our descent was via the Baldy Bowl Trail, which was very steep and included many areas of loose sand and gravel. The terrain and surroundings are very unique and I would definitely recommend this hike to any experienced hiker!
Ascent: 3 hours 15 minutes via Devils Backbone
Descent: 2 hours and 30 minutes

This hike is definitely intense. Hiked up on baldy trail and back down on devils backbone. Going up is tough is 4000 ft of just straight elevation imagine stair master x10. When you hit the green cabin (there is a little outhouse) you’re about halfway. It’s gets harder after this. The summit is really cool. Great view. Down devils backbone is VERY narrow be extra careful but it’s totally doable. I think this is the best way down opposed to baldy trail its not as intense. Long but not as intense. Plus there is the Mt baldy lodge where you can relax possibly take the ski lift back down if you wish.

Tips: bring at least 2 liters of water. Must wear hiking shoes. Trekking poles are very helpful.

Didn’t notice any smoke today. Seems to be one of the few places unaffected by the fires.

Hiked this yesterday. Very low traffic, which was nice. Hazy at the top, got some weather for a few minutes. You can see smoke, but didn't interfere with the hike. It was a great day in the 70's, cooler at the top.

Can anyone comment on the smoke at the top? I did Bighorn on Wednesday and the conditions weren't the best.

off road driving
18 days ago

Great time here! My buddy and I both have completely stock vehicles(posted) he has a 2010 FJ Cruiser and myself a 2018 Rubicon JLU. Are only limit was climbing a steep hill with loose dirt. You will need to get off the main trail (Red Canyon Rd) to find some really fun and difficult paths.

trail running
21 days ago

Did as a 1-day trail run, took the Catalina Express ferry from San Pedro and started at Two Harbors towards Avalon (skipped the north part). Ran the 26 miles to Avalon in about 8 hrs along the "official" Trans Catalina Trail see https://www.catalinaconservancy.org/userfiles/files/Hiking%20Map%202017%2011x17(1).pdf (it goes by airport via Sheep Chute Road).

Definitely some pretty areas. I like the ridge north of Little Harbor and the section south of Black Jack Campground (where the buffalo are).

Least favorite was Sheep Chute road and area near the airport. I'd consider doing the bypass along Cottonwood trail as shown in Red on AllTrails, but I guess that skips the water at the airport. Also it looks like Google Maps doesn't even show Cottonwood Trail so make sure you have this AllTrails map or a USGS version.

3 bottles of Gatorade was less than enough, but was able to refill one at the airport halfway. Pretty hot out there in late July. Very arid and dry. Could imagine it being more pretty in the winter.

Remember the ferry takes over an hour each way which eats into your trail time. Still I do recommend doing it as a dayhike trail run.

Did this as an overnight. Started at about 5:30 A.M. at Manker flats campground. Took our time going up not rushing. Started with 2 liters of water and brought extra empty bottles to fill up at the ski hut. The stream was flowing very well. From ski hut took 4 1/2 liters to the summit 1 1/2 liters was just for our meals. Wasn’t very windy at the summit until about 7pm

The sunset was SPECTACULAR. Words can not describe it. We saw a family of big horn sheep right by our camp site for an hour or so. Once the sunset the lights from Hesperia and the inland empire are incredible along with super bright stars, planets and the moon being super bright lighting up the camp site. We camped at the summit in between one of the rock wind barriers. It got a little windy through the night but not unbearable.

The next morning packed up around 8 A.M. and got down to the car around 11:30 but spent 45 min at ski hut drinking up water and cooling off by the creek. Super refreshing. Once the sun was up and we got below the ski hit it got hot quick. Bring lots of water if you plan on doing this in the summer along with a hat as there is no shade at the summit and hardly any shade along devils backbone.

The trail is very well signposted and easy to follow. Started about 6am and wasn’t bothered by the heat at all! Managed to see a family of Bighorn Sheep going down the Devils Backbone which was amazing

Loved this hike. Don’t be.afraid to wear standard Nike free runs or other types of non boot like shoes.

Hike was for sure a tough climb, if you aren’t used to pushing yourself through steep hills and long elevation gains than this is a hike you will have to gain some will power. One step at a time. :)

The view was incredible also, most definitely going back.

hiking
1 month ago

Completed the TCT from Avalon to Parsons Lansing Oct 2016 and it was an excellent experience! However, as mentioned in previous reviews, there is pretty much 0 shade from the sun throughout the vast majority of the hike. And water is only found at camp areas and the airport strip food mart gift shop so plan accordingly.

Got dropped off by ferry at Avalon and hiked straight from Avalon to BlackJack where we camped at Black Jack the first night. Day two we hiked to the airport to fill up on water and onto little harbor. I encourage a pit stop swim in the ocean at little harbor, before strapping on your gear again for another long stretch of straight uphill climbs. From little harbor there was a long very uphill stretch to two harbors, where we camped for the 2nd night.

After we camped the night at two Harbors (which was the most crowded of campsites), we got back on the trail and hiked to Parsons landing which was my favorite of the 3 campsites. Once you refill on water located in pre designated lockers with your campsite number listed on it, you actually set up camp right on the beach next to the ocean on your fairly secluded personal sandy beach. Note- be sure to secure your rainfly on your tent as the ocean creates a mist at night that will get everything damp. The next and final day we hiked from PL back to Two Harbors where we caught a ferry back to Long Beach.

I highly recommend this hike, but be prepared for the island/desert terrain. And I should also mention that buffalo sightings and potentially close encounters with them are highly
likely.

backpacking
1 month ago

Great backpacking loop! Had a fantastic time this last weekend. Minimal bugs, fishing was tough but we caught 4 rainbows on spinning rods (should have brought fly rod), water was warm enough to swim comfortably. Headed up the west trail and down the east trail, highly suggest this route.

Definitely scenic! You have to go before high tide or you’ll get trapped between the rock and water. We walked the full distance to Point Conception, but there isn’t a way to access the light house or the church. You can see it from below, but if you plan on walking there, you have to drive a ways to see it. Not a lot of people walking on the trail with you. Take plenty of water with you. The breeze was amazing as were some of the views. Also, the terrain wasn’t that challenging. Just a nice walk.

Did this hike on 7/4/18 with my wife and it can be done in 5to 8 hours depending on your pace and break times. Got there pretty early around 5:45 AM and glad we did because it was really crowded as the day went on. Did this counter clockwise up to the ski lodge then to devils back bone and up to the summit. Proceeded down to the ski hut trail and manker flats.

Beautiful views but quite windy with winds at 15 mph up toward the summit. It is a strenuous hike but the sense of accomplishment felt at the summit makes all the struggle worth it . We summited at about 10 AM. (took a 20 minute break at ski lodge to eat snacks).

If you have weak knees be prepared as the downhill is a lot harder than going up. Took us longer to get down because of the frequent breaks. The loop down is very steep and a lot of support and stabilization is required. My wife was really struggling on the way down as she has an injured knee so it took us an extra 90 minutes to go down than it should have.

Instead of a loop I would do an out and back next time and return down devils backbone to ski lodge to save my knees.

Tips :
Trekking poles useful going down
Atleast 2 liter of water as the loop will take between5 to 8 hours
Sunscreen as there are many unshaded parts throughout the hike.
If you have weak knees, Do an out and back from manker flats- ski lodge- devils back bone- summit as it is the prettier side of this hike and then take the ski lift down.

Amazing views. Good and strenuous. A must-do hike for all SoCal hikers.

Great scenic trail! Really great for Whitney preparation. The stream running by the ski hut was flowering pretty good to my surprise. However that is pretty much the only water supply until the lodge.

Hiked this trial with my best friend/hubby on 6/30. We left our house at 7:30 AM (wish we left earlier) and reached there by 8:30 and started our hike through Top Notch. At around 9AM we also saw people coming down already.
we started our way at slow pace since we know it was a hard trial and dint want to spend all of our energy in the beginning. By 11:30 AM we reached Top Notch Restaurant and took a 15min break. Cooled off ourself. Sun is all out by that time and we started to the real part of the hike. We reached Devils backbone at 12:30PM and pretty much tired already (again.. we are beginners) and our fellow hikers told the toughest part was still ahead. At about 1PM we reached to the last 1mile which was a killer hike. At this point, due to high elevation it became tough to get breath and we had to take a 30sec break for every 30 steps we took. That last 1mile almost took 1 to 1:30hr but we dint give up :)

Finally we made it to summit at 3PM (6 long hours). The moments of joy !! Manu had a bit of motion sickness and felt dizzy. We took few pictures and decided to get back. Now we have to decide if we want to take Ski Hut trial to make it a loop or just come back through same Top Notch route.

Top Notch route has an option to take cable car which take down to our car. since we were worn out and altitude has got our nerved we thought we would just take the cable car. we started coming back and half way down - we both got back our breath and we felt light as ever. We again took 30min break at the restaurant and cooled off. And decided to walk back 3 more miles. It wasnt that hard coming back although we just took our own time and laughing about out first summit experience. What a sense of accomplishment !!
If you think you are fit enough, you should go for this trial. If I can do it.. You can do it too !!

tips: wear long sleeved top to avoid sunburn. Take lots of water. hiking poles are life saviors.

This a beautiful and fun hike. One the better SoCal mountains. Going down Ski Hut trail is a bit rough.

backpacking
1 month ago

Me and my husband made this our first backpacking trip and it was definitely one of my favorite experiences! We went from Avalon to Two Harbors in two days.

Day 1: Ferry in, Avalon to Blackjack campground (11 miles, took us about 6 hours total)
Day 2: Blackjack to Two Harbors (13 miles, took us about 8 hours, including our stop at Airport in the Sky and hanging out at Little Harbor), Ferry out.

So much wildlife, it would be difficult not to see Bison and foxes. We had a fox that hung out at our campsite. My husband also was a little too brave and continued on the trail with a pack of Bison right off the trail, and ended up being charged by one of the bulls. Fortunately he dropped his pack when he ran and it scared the bull. Make sure to keep your distance from them! Also watch out for snakes, we passed a rattlesnake and another yellow and black striped snake on the trail and didn't notice until they stirred.

Beautiful views, changing terrain every few miles, all in all an amazing way to view the island.

The one thing I would have changed was adding another day to our trip so we could have camped at Little Harbor and hiked from there to Two Harbors the following day. The second day hiking was quite a challenge for us considering the heat, the steep ascents to Two Harbors after Little Harbor, and the wear on our legs and feet after day one. However, the views are spectacular to Two Harbors.

Overall awesome backpacking, would highly recommend.

If you have weak knees like me, I recommend to hike up through ski hut trail and hike down through devils back bone. It takes a little more time but saves your knees.

backpacking
1 month ago

Enjoyed the trail and its amazing views (little harbor to two harbors, silver peak trail, top of hermit gulch). We were always close to bison, deer, and foxes. A bison even walked up to our campsite while one of us was showering. Scary.

I did not like jeeps and trucks constantly passing us from Hermit Gulch to Blackjack or from Parsons to Two Harbors, but it didn't ruin the trip.

We went in late June and it was not hot at average 65F but the kids had gotten out of school and Parson's was a madhouse.

The best food served on the trail is at the airport and the food at Two Harbors is overpriced and unremarkable.

On the 3rd day we did the 14mi loop from Two Harbors to Parsons and back (of the official 2017 trail) in 1 day and would not recommend doing that as our feet were in so much pain walking 7.5 miles on a flat road after a >1mi long descent on fenceline road.

Easier going up the mountain than going down.. in my opinion. We took the service road to the chair lifts and cut across Devil's Backbone to the Summit and down the mountain along the Ski Hut trail. great day hike..

June 27.. started around 7 am, amazing hike. Went counter clockwise up to the notch and then devils backbone. Saw some staff testing some mobile WiFi for an upcoming race up to the summit. The last push to the summit is pretty tough, especially when your almost 10,000 ft . A nice hiker told us to stay right at a split about 250 yards from the summit, felt like it was easier than going straight up. Summited just before noon after taking a few stops on the way. Feet were dying coming down, might of been smart to take the chairlift lol. All around a challenging and rewarding hike.

Did this hike on Saturday, June 23rd. We went clockwise passing the falls 1st. This hike was much harder than Mt Wilson and Cucamonga Peak. Better be on your game immediately cuz its starts up hill from the start. Fewer people going this way. When we hit the top we took a small detour to West Baldy a half mile down and up to add some distance. Went down Devils backbone and thats where it gets busy.A lot of people take the ski lifts up and start hiking. young old big small, dozens and dozens of people going up the backbone as we were coming down. We stopped for a beer at the Top O Notch Restaurant and its a 3 mile fire road back down to Manker flats. Its hard, beautiful, and rewarding. Hiking the 6 pack of Peaks. Baldy was #3. Mt San Bern is next. Lastly, trail was very well marked, and with so many hikers hard to get list, and I would not call it dangerous at all. Trail is wide enough and its not hiking along cliffs.

On a hot June 24th I hiked up Baldy Rd to Devils Backbone, summited Mt Harwood, then continued to Baldy. I returned via Baldy Bowl. Read below from pros/cons on the route choice, but no matter how you summit this is the best climb in SoCal. Yes, I said it... Better than San G, San B, and San J. Why? Neighboring mountains make the views more epic, the Backbone is bomb, and little ridge bumps like West Baldy and Harwood let you bag a few peaks in one push. Enjoy!

Pros:
•Fewer people. It seems most opt to climb up Baldy Bowl and return on Devils Backbone to Baldy Rd. It was great to hike on a Sunday and not be in a line of people.
•If you don’t like steep climbs this is the route for you.
•You cross a creek twice on Baldy Bowl so you have access to cold water (ie splash your face and neck) at the end of your hike.

Cons:
•Lots of sun exposure early in your hike. There’s no shade on Baldy Rd... so if you’re a baldy, pack a hat.
•The decent on Baldy Bowl is slick as whale snot. I lost my footing a few times and everyone I encountered had the tell tale “dusty butt” from their plummets.
•BEWARE OF BEES on Mt Harwood. At the summit I was stung several times. If you’re allergic you better pack your epi or a final will and testament because you’ll have Harwood all to yourself since no one wants to climb the additional 200 or so feet.

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