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Hiked up Ski Hut / Baldy bowl and down Devil's Backbone loop Sunday March 18th.

Left at 7:15AM, arrived at Ski hut at 9am, and summited around 11am. We contemplated descending the ski hut trail, or completing the loop down Devil's Backbone. After talking with several people on the summit who hiked up the backbone, we decided on the backbone. We were lucky to have great weather and a solid path in front of us the entire day. We got the job done in our micro spikes but obviously preferred with crampons. There were certainly a couple sections where you want to be extremely cautious along the backbone, and most likely avoid after a storm or it's too cold / icy.

We stopped by the lodge for celebratory beers and ended back at the starting point around 2:30pm.

Overall this climb was far more impressive than I was expecting. The entire hike was beautiful. It's awesome to have this mountain only an hour from the beach.

I'd definitely recommend going with someone who is familiar with the route or experienced in the mountains if you decide to do the bowl or backbone on the ascent/descent in the winter. Shoot for a day with a great weather window as it will eliminate alot of the risk variables.

The sun didn't hit the mountain hard until noon, which then we observed several rock and ice fall as the mountain came alive. Try to be on your descent in the early afternoon.

Awesome hike. 5 Stars!

Beautiful place i love hiking here❤❤❤

After the long walk, you’ll get to some signs and that’s when the real hike begins- so much fun!

I’ve done this hike multiple times and the last two times I’ve thought as I walked all the way back to my car how boring this trail is.

Besides the boulder scrambling portion & waterfall, this hike really sucks and is boring. It’s definitely a full body workout when you’re scrambling up the rocks but that portion is just too far and too boring to get to. Maybe I’ve been here too many times

Really fun trail. Lots of rocks and boulder so I highly recommend boots and some good socks. Not heavily traffic cause it is a lil tough. Recommend starting early too.

7 days ago

Great hike with great views with some steep inclines toward the top. Most of the trees sadly have been burned down from the recent fires. But still worth the views.

Lots of scrambling and light bouldering to make your way up. No water in the creeks or waterfall right now but still a fun experience! Will be back.

This was a great hike today especially after the rain.. If your looking to get a great workout in with some strenuous hills and open trails then this is the one to do. I actually used Strava to range the hike and it came out to to just over 9.5 miles. If you do the whole loop like I did then you will be very satisfied with it especially when the day is nice and it makes for great pictures when your along the PCH ridges.. El Moro Loop has some great views that overlook the ocean and you get some fresh air for sure.. The trail was very quite and peaceful, so if your looking to get away and decompress then this would be ideal. I will definitely do this trail again and maybe get a trail run the next time around!

It’s great view at the entry . We were there in the early morning. It is very refreshing. Unfortunately, the waterfall is not running.

On March 10, hiked up Ski Hut / Baldy Bowl and down Devil’s Backbone to the Notch, about 7.5 miles total. Took the chairlift down the rest of the way. The hike itself took 4 hours and 3min, but I set a very aggressive pace for myself due to time constraints. The first three miles up to just beyond the ski hut took 1h20min, the next 1.5 miles up to the summit took 1h20min (this segment abolutely kicked my butt) and the summit down to the Notch took 1h25min. I set out from Manker Flats at 5:22am (with a headlamp as it was not yet twilight) and got to the Notch at 9:26am. The trail was mostly clear of snow and ice for the first three miles. Microspikes were necessary for most of the upper section to the summit due to ice and snow particularly in the steep section beginning about 1/2 mile after the hut. I had downloaded a route into my Garmin watch, which was very helpful (read: necessary) because there are sections between the hut and the summit where it would be very easy to lose the trail. Hiking down Devil’s Backbone was a little scary in parts due to ice and snow along the precipitous drop-offs, however there was enough ground exposed so that I could easily identify and avoid the snow cornices. It is a little hairy right at the western entrance to the Backbone section as there is a lot of snow wedged in the corner next to a fairly steep dropoff. Overall it is a very fun and pretty challenging hike, with amazing views and spectacular scenery along the whole route. Well worth it, but this time of year use caution and tread carefully along precipitous sections of the Devil’s Backbone trail; and be prepared - I would recommend microspikes and trekking poles for the hairy parts, and also bring some layers because there can be very significant changes in temperature at the different elevations and much wind chill at the summit.

Great time. Snow on the ground made it that much more enjoyable. Did the whole loop and Needed crampons for sure to help with the sliding around.

14 days ago

Review is for Black Star FALLS trail- starting at the sign (not the canyon’s fire road). As others stated, be prepared for boulders and rocks for a majority of the hike. I hike every weekend and found this trail to be very challenging simply due to climbing over rocks, trying to not fall in water and avoiding poison oak all around. I’m short which required me to use a lot of balance and upper body strength to get up and over the boulders. There were younger hikers who found this hike to be moderate (but definitely not concerned about how much it would suck if they scraped a leg or twisted an ankle which could EASILY happen and did happen to people I saw on the trail. Lots of scrapes and bruises.).

As for attire, I wore trail runners which worked fine. Hiking boots would have been best for ankle support and stability over the rocks. Wear long pants since there’s poison oak everywhere, especially at ankle height. Wear shoes with good traction since it is muddy and very slippery. Luckily, my leggings didn’t tear but I would’ve been better off with jeans or thicker pants (When you’re short, you end up boosting and sliding over boulders since you don’t have height to step up. I was paranoid all the rock sliding was going to tear a hole in the seat of my pants.)

The scenery is ok and is best in early spring after HEAVY rainfall. I did this hike once in late spring and it was miserably hot and dry with no water. It’s too bad there is so much trash and graffiti. Hence, the lower rating. (Spotted 3 different undies; smh)

Watch for the orange ties in the trees and blue arrows on rocks to guide the way. When you get half way up and spot a small sign covered in graffiti next to a rusted bike, the trail comes to a Y, turn left and follow the creek bed. Going straight will lead you to a disappointing dead end.

Hi all! I hiked through mud, bouldered the amazing rocks to the dry waterfall round trip in roughly 4.5 hours. Unfortunately, the waterfall is currently dry despite the recent rain. It will take a LOT more rain in order for this waterfall to come back.

14 days ago

We go hiking every weekend and have done a lot of trails, this trail by far is my favorite. First couple of miles is really easy road, and trail then you hit the trailhead and the fun begins. It’s a challenge a lot of rock climbing and maneuvering your way through massive boulders but it’s totally worth it. We will definitely do this one again.

This was one of the most difficult hikes I’ve taken in a long time. Most of the hike you walk up a muddy path (2 miles) until you reach the Black Star Falls Trail sign. From there, it’s straight bouldering! Intense rock climbing experience, you definitely need to be a bit flexible for this one. When we got to the top of the falls, there was no water, but it was still amazing. Happy to say I conquered it!

The first half is a steady incline and you're exposed to a lot of sun. The second half is a much steeper incline and can get quite chilly and breezy. If you want a nice conditioning hike, this is it. Careful along those rocky edges up in the second half. Can be challenging for this who don't like heights.

So beautiful! Surprisingly steep areas, it takes a little practice not getting deviated on the paths. The map feature is priceless!

This is a 5 star hike if you go after a recent storm. However, overall I have to give it a strong 4 star rating since the beginning of the hike is not that special and if you go during drier conditions it is not as enjoyable.

Parking- a road leads to the gate for the trailhead...if you get there early and are able to park near the gate make sure you are parking on the right side of the road as you approach the gate...on the left side for no apparent reason is a no-parking zone for about the 1st 100 ft or so and one time after returning from our hike we returned to see an officer writing tickets for about 10 cars or so...parking is allowed on both sides of the road beyond the first 100 ft closest to the gate *parking is free and no Adventure Pass is needed

Trail- the first 3/4 of a mile is a flat paved fire road; you will then turn right and walk for maybe 1 1/2 miles on a dirt path with private property on both sides and you can see and hear the creek running not too far away from where the path; after an easy 2-2.5 mile stroll you reach a sign "Black Star Canyon Falls" and the real fun begins and the hike gets much harder from this point on; you go down toward the creek and head left and follow the creek for about a little over a mile until you reach the falls; after a recent storm there will be many water crossings and you will definitely get your feet wet...also, as you get closer to the falls the rocks in the creek that you have to step on to cross the creek become boulders and the path becomes less obvious and you have to pick the route that you feel most comfortable to continue on but don't give up it will be worth it when you reach the falls; RT for the hike is about 7 miles from the parking lot to the falls and back

*if you go during a wetter time make sure to start your hike between 6-8 am since this place can get really busy when the waterfall is really flowing

Very fun hike! Be prepared to be scrambling up and down some boulders for a huge chunk of the hike. I saw people of all ages successfully tackling this hike, so at long as you are up for a small challenge and are moderately fit you will be fine!

Construction on road
No parking at trail head

29 days ago

As mentioned before, this is definitely not a hike for beginners. The trailhead is not marked and is very difficult to find. I walked about 1 1/2 miles on the fire road to the first tunnel (too far) and turned around. After finding the unmarked trailhead (around a 3.39 near the white & red mile marker), I started my ascent. At times throughout the entire hike, the trail is difficult to navigate due to overgrown brush, occasional Yuccas and various plantlife. There are a lot of steep sections and several hills to conquer before summiting. It's a mini Iron Mountain-type hike. There are a couple of false summits as well.

As mentioned by other posters, bring plenty of water, wear long pants, sunscreen, sunglasses, and hiking poles. I would wait for a cool day to do this hike also because the majority of this hike is exposed to full sun.

I noticed several colorful rocks and hundreds of lizards. In fact, I would re-namke this mountain "Lizard Mountain." Thankfully, no rattlesnakes were seen. I did see a marmot-type animal on one of the rocky hill summits.

It took me 3 hrs & 45 minutes to the summit and 6 1/2 hours round trip. There were seven additional people (3 small groups) who summited as well.

It was a awesome drive it can be hard for car that are not 4 Wheel drive but it can be done so many awesome views of the surrounding areas. And there’s a café that we went to and it was really good if you ever want to try this trip was amazing

Great trail! It was a good cool day. Make sure you have plenty of water and some light snacks if you do the whole loop

Went to the falls. They are dry right now, but it was still a fun hike with bouldering. Lot's of rocks, big rocks. you must be able to climb up, over and down various sizes of boulders. I had a blast.

I’ve done this hike 4 times.. I love it every time. Best time to go is during the rain, or right after for the best flowing waterfalls .I love a good challenge & this one does it most by far. Lots of boulders make it great if you like to climb. I would say this is an all over workout hike. Best time to go I’d say 6am. Avoid the toll road if you can.

Nice trail with plenty of shaded areas. Not very difficult but 4x4 is recomded.

Free parking. You walk on asphalt for a while, before actually getting on a trail. We decided to go up Black Star. The way up is nice. Some climbing. No running water. Tiny stream-about 11 inches long. Going back was slippery. Total time 3 hours 1 min at a moderate pace. Will do again!!!! Not hard, between easy and moderate.

Hands down one of my favorites so far! A much more difficult hike than I’m used to but it was very much enjoyed. Hiking shoes, highly recommend!

I took my 5 kids ages 14,12,12,12,&7. They are great hikers who don’t tire easily. This hike wiped us out! It starts off easy but the last mile is all rock climbing. It was very fun but exhausting. The trail says “dog friendly” but I question if a dog could make it the entire way do to all the rock climbing. There is tons of graffiti, so much so we missed the sign that pointed to the direction we were to go in. At the rusty bike in the tree go left (we went right and had to backtrack about half a mile). The waterfall was dry but someone left some ropes making it fun to explore the cave and rock climb. Next time I go it’ll be after a good heavy rain to ensure the waterfall is flowing.

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