Mount San Antonio and Mount Baldy Notch Trail

HARD 1218 reviews
#2 of 227 trails in

Mount San Antonio and Mount Baldy Notch Trail is a 9.2 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Mt Baldy, California that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 9.2 miles Elevation Gain: 3,940 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly

backpacking

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

bird watching

running

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

historic site

A strenuous loop to the 10,068' summit of Baldy. Any Southern Californian can point out the white topped Mt. Baldy - actually it's real name is Mt. San Antonio. Baldy is a SoCal icon that stands out boldly as a snow-covered backdrop for much of the year. At 10,068 feet above sea level, the snow often sticks around well into June. This loop begins at the Manker Flats trailhead (National Parks Adventure Pass required), taking the winding fire road up Baldy Notch, then hiking the Devil's Backbone to the summit. The return route takes you down via the steep Baldy Bowl trail, passing the Sierra Club Ski Hut and San Antonio Falls on the way back to Manker Flats. This is the third of six southern California summits in the 6-Pack of Peaks bundle. Done in sequence, they provide great training anyone preparing for bigger hikes such as Mt. Whitney or Half Dome. Each hike in the 6-Pack is progressively higher in altitude, and all have respectable distance and vertical elevation gain. When you're at Baldy Notch, there are several paths that head towards Mt. Baldy (none of the marked). DO NOT take the far left path. That will take you to the foot of the Turkeyshoot ski run. It may be the most direct, but your legs will never forgive you for going up that run. No matter how you get there, though, all of the trails take you to Devil's Backbone, which leads you to Baldy. It's not so bad before the final ascent, but there are places where both sides of the trail drop away, and you could get some vertigo, if you're prone to it. But the ascent is the real butt-kicker. When you round Mt. Harwood and head for Baldy, the rest of your path is brutal and relentless. The views at the top are incredible, and there's wind-breaks other folks have constructed out of stones, so you can take a breather behind one of those if it's too gusty. From there, you have your pick of ways down, either back the way you came, down the Baldy Bowl/Ski Hut trail, or the Bear Canyon trail. Good luck. Make sure to check when the ski lift closes, if you plan to take it back. NOTE: Be sure to park outside of the white line along the road. It can be difficult to see in the snow but the police will have you towed if parked incorrectly.

This is our third time visiting. Last year around February, we saw a lot of snow starting from the trail head and all mountains are covered in white. That was some extra breathtaking view. This year, there is almost no snow at all before reaching the ski hub. Very disappointing, it was almost as if we were hiking in mid June. Recommend waiting a few week if you can so that we get more snows on the mountain.

hiking
icy
muddy
off trail
rocky
scramble
snow
14 days ago

2/2/20 This was a breath taking trail, like it literally took my breath away and kicked my butt, quite a bit of snow and high winds made it extra fun. First time using crampons and the did their job, I felt safe on every step I took. It was challenging but rewarding. You can definitely feel the elevation but it’s so worth it. I would definitely recommend it to anyone that is willing to push through any obstacles.

hiking
15 days ago

We completed the loop going to the Ski Lift up through Devil's Backbone and then down the Bowl passing the Sierra Club on the way down. Crampons are the safer bet when passing through the Devil's backbone as the "trap" is still icy and could be problematic. With that said, people were passing through without them. However, if going down from the Summit to the Sierra Club, the snow was slushy and thick, I can see this being difficult without micro-spikes, or crampons. We started at 7:30 AM, ended at 4:30 PM, took our time and had a blast. Oh, other hikers were talking that the route up to the Devil's backbone might be closed because of the resort, we were able to walk through without a problem. Overall, beautiful hike!

hiking
icy
17 days ago

Took the trail to the ski hut, only obstacle was a downed tree. Snow begins st the ski hut. Super windy.

23 days ago

This is no joke!!! Be prepared if you want to go on this journey especially now. Tons of ice and if you do not have micro spikes please do not attempt this right now. Just did it yesterday and if I didn’t have them it could of been really bad. If you come prepared you will have a ton of fun. Start early and take your time

hiking
bugs
28 days ago

Late review: I hiked this in September and it was absolutely amazing. Steep inclines and can be very windy at times. Beautiful views all around you though and well worth the day spent. Take plenty of water, nuun hydration fizz drink to rehydrate, Protein, calories to burn your body will need it.

hiking
icy
scramble
snow
30 days ago

hiking
icy
snow
1 month ago

Went up the ski hut way, took the devils backbone down. The backbone is not to be messed with this time of year. Lots of snow and ice, and crampons and an ice axe are a must. Follow the route closely, I missed a zig zag in the trail and found myself on a cliff edge that I had to scramble my way out of. It’s a doable route, but certainly dangerous if you don’t have the right equipment or experience.

hiking
2 months ago

As for a review. This is my 3rd time summiting in the winter months and there is a lot of snow! More so than I’ve seen before. However as the other comments said after the ski hut be prepared for a serious workout and the need for special equipment. I was able to summit on 11/30/19 with just crampons and and ice axe. That is the minimum. Storm started to form around 2pm

hiking
snow
2 months ago

11.30.2019 Went up the Ski Hut route, snow at least 2 feet deep, trail was packed in up until Ski Hut. The trail going over the boulders onto the switch back was not passable without snow shoes, snow would sink in to the hips. Turned around a bit to go straight up to the Bowl, again, sinking into the snow knee to hips, draining to go up at this speed. From this point, you needed crampons and at least a couple of ice axes to climb up, and you’re breaking trail as you go up. Even though it wasn’t strong wind conditions in the Bowl, the slow speed would expose you and wear you out.

hiking
2 months ago

Help! I lost my phone somewhere just below the summit- black iPhone 8. It's on lost mode, so if you find it and plug it in you can reach me. Thanks! Besides that though this was an excellent hike! Snow was a couple feet deep even at the trailhead. The trail was well packed down up to the lodge. It seems liked the regular trail was impassable so people we're making their way up the bowl. My girlfriend and I just had boots and an ice axe each and it was fine. Steep and strenuous, but definitely manageable. We ended breaking the trail for the last half mile or so (which is also where I lost my phone). Beautiful views and lots of friendly people out for the day!

hiking
2 months ago

@jack hill - 11/30 - just heard that there's avalanche warnings and they've also closed the trail for the weeekend

Very windy on summit and ridges. Recommend poles and crampons or at least microspikes. Otherwise beautiful hike!!

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

Very fun and steep trail! I ran it in about 2 and a half hours round trip. Make sure to lock your car doors and don’t leave the windows cracked! My wallet got stolen in the parking area from my car.

hiking
bugs
rocky
3 months ago

Every other review of this loop says trail is 10.2, and my step counter agrees. Coming up counter clockwise, the first few miles are pretty easy, and then get steep after the ski lodge area. I had to rest often during that half of the ascent, but I still completed in 6:20. Absolutely gorgeous from Devil's Backbone across to summit and all the way back down through the bowl. It's VERY dry right now, so there's a lot of scrambling up and down near the summit in deep sand/small rocky conditions on the path. I didn't have poles but I had deep treads on my hiking shoes, that saved a lot of slips and potential falls.

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

One of the hardest we've done, the altitude is no joke but the sense completion is priceless. Definitely not for beginners make sure you have great hiking shoes, water and poles!

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked this trail with two buddies on 10/10/19 as a training hike for Cactus-to-Clouds. Started at 6:10am and wrapped up around 12:45pm. Altitude got to them a bit, since it was their first hike above 5000’, so prepare to make a few stops to catch your breath. Other than that, pretty easy trail, well-marked for the most part (couple spots where we had to check the map we’d downloaded, which is always recommended). On to San Bernardino Peak and San Gorgonio next...

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