Mount San Antonio & Mount Baldy Notch Trail

HARD 753 reviews
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Mount San Antonio & Mount Baldy Notch Trail is a 9.2 mile moderately 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
3940 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

backpacking

birding

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

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.

hiking
14 days ago

No snow on the trail left on April 8; just a few patches off to the sides. That last steep mile from the bowl to the summit is brutal. I took a few long breaks to sketch the landscape, different all the time and, was back down by 2 pm.

hiking
16 days ago

hiking
23 days ago

Wow, great trail! Fantastic vistas throughout. Not particularly technically challenging (though loose rocks and as of today patchy snow fields starting around 8,500’) but definitely an aggressive hike! Will probably not bring my long lens next time, but did find some good alpine birds along the way. Trail was easy enough to follow with markers and AllTrails map.

hiking
1 month ago

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!

hiking
1 month ago

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.

1 month ago

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.

2 months ago

Good challenge trail

hiking
2 months ago

This is another of the premiere hikes to be done in these mountains. Starting out around 7 am, there was a biting cold wind that was avoided after getting past the falls. We kept a good pace along the service road to the lodge. I was glad to get some hot coffee there before moving on. The climb got a little tough initially, from getting used to the elevation, and then I found most of Devil's Backbone to be a steady climb. I diverted over to the summit of Mt. Harwood and then came back down to the main trail. My favorite part of this stretch was seeing into the Mojave to Victorville and other areas to the east, The wind was cold a fierce along the Harwood part of the trail, and finally it was blocked on the last stretch to the summit. A break there was nice, and so was the geocache. We came down the Ski Hut trail and it was fairly easy going most of the way. We hit the service road at sunset, and it was a short time back to the parking lot.

backpacking
2 months ago

Up, up and up! If you are looking for a relaxing hike look elsewhere. This is strenuous. Really enjoyed the views. Gorgeous! A bunch of hikers on a Saturday but it was still a whole lot of fun. On our way down we stopped at the ski lodge and had a celebratory beer. I recommend bringing a small lunch. This hike takes it out of you and you will be starving! Slept like a baby after this summit!

2 months ago

Love it done 3 times

hiking
2 months ago

Very very very windy at the top. Sunset was sublime. We kinda got lost on our way down. Rewarding and refreshing hike.

Took the ski-lift and then got onto the Devil's Backbone. On the return we used the Baldy Bowl trail.

hiking
2 months ago

Completed Dec 30, 2017.

hiking
2 months ago

My first time hiked alone for the year! Starting the new year off right. One day hike. Completed (at the peak) Mt. San Antonio in 6 1/2hrs, at 10,064ft with coordinate at 34° 17′ 20.02″ N, 117° 38′ 48.2″ W. January 2018. It was below 34 degree. Hands and feet were frozen: too cold! Couldn’t feel my blood circulating. Drinking tube was frozen. Very thin air. Met some amazing hikers too. Wow, that was so awesome!! Man, I’m tired.... NOT FOR KIDS!

hiking
3 months ago

Did Baldy via backbone on Sunday (1/15/18). Made it to summit via backbone without crampons but highly recommend them. Still plenty of snow above 8,000 feet. Came down ski hut and more snow on that side. Bring crampons or spikes. Wish I had brought my dog. He would’ve been fine. Be safe.

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike. Trail is mostly clear for now, but the last 700 feet or so of elevation have a couple inches of frozen over snow. Doable for now with boots still, but definitely recommend at least microspikes, especially if they get more snow.

hiking
3 months ago

One of the most fun and challenging hikes Ive been able to do. Took way longer than i expected but the view from the top is definitely worth the trek up. Devils backbone was more exciting than it was nerve wracking. If I could change anything about the hike, I would come down Devils backbone instead of baldy notch. The steep slope destroyed my knees coming down. All in all, an amazing hike.

hiking
3 months ago

I've only done this hike via Bear Canyon trail. I have horrible asthma and at around 6500ft the elevation starts to play with my mentality. I've completed it twice but each time I ask myself why I am doing it again.lol Going this way is roughly 14 miles from the trail head across from the village in Mt. Baldy to San Antonio falls road. I think everyone should do this hike at least once. It's a quite, less traveled route with breathtaking views but definitely for the more experienced hikers. Make sure you have at least 3 litres of water and snacks for fuel. The first 7 miles are about 18 to 23% incline steady! After that the next 4 or so miles are a traverse incline to the summit. After leaving the summit, coming down Devils Backbone was a blast. I ran most of the way until just before the lodge. Its very steep and rocky just before the lifts. Once you get to the lodge its about another 4 miles down the fire road to the San Antonio falls rd entrance/exit. Best time to go is between May and November depending on when winter season starts and ends. HAPPY HIKING!!!

3 months ago

worth it.

hiking
3 months ago

Very challenging hike that will get you panting and breathing for every bit of air. The views are gorgeous, but the peak tends to be very crowded.

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked this trail yesterday, definitely a difficult hike, especially the last 700ft in elevation gain! Started the hike at around 0700 and reached the top at around 1200. Had to take multiple breaks because the higher up we hiked, the longer we needed to recover because of the elevation (we started our day at approx 400 ft above sea level) I would most definitely do this again, however, I probably would come back on the Devil's Backbone trail because the Baldy Bowl to Ski hut trail was very rough going down and hard on the knees even with trekking poles. I would advise to bring 3L of water at the absolute minimum.

hiking
3 months ago

Very tough hike, especially for someone like me who isn’t used to longer hikes but it’s all worth it for the incredible views! This hike is like nothing else in LA. Many people worry about the Devil’s Backbone portion of the hike, as long as it’s not snowy it’s not too bad. Just take it slow. Overall, the hike was quiet, passing other hikers every once in awhile. I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone who wants to take their hiking game to the next level!

hiking
3 months ago

What a great hike,highly recommended.It's hard but beautiful views. Day was beautiful,couldn't ask for better. Came back down the Devil's back bone in a nice loop. Dress warm,it's windy up there.

rock climbing
3 months ago

We intended on taking the trail up to Mt. Baldy Peak, but couldn’t resist the waterfall to the left of the trail at the start. Pretty dangerous climb up the falls, rope is ideal (there are occasional anchors). Once you make it up a few plateaus you’ll need to decide to go left, right or up a much more vertical climb. We chose right being unprepared for a wall... left may have been a better choice. Continuing up to reconnect with the trail around the 7,300 ft mark was difficult and dangerous as hell. Loose rocks and soil everywhere, with the risk of a minor avalanche present. Plus it’s covered with these razor sharp plants that you WILL get stabbed by constantly, they suck. It was a really challenging route and we ended up cutting things off after that to nurse our wounds and save the peak for another time. Great trail heading back down, poles are a good idea if you ever have knee or ankle trouble.

hiking
4 months ago

First timer. Went up Ski Hut and down Baldy Notch. Appreciated the outhouse at Ski Hut! Navigation around Baldy Notch area is challenging. No signage there. Otherwise, trails are clear. No snow yet. Only biting summit winds!

hiking
4 months ago

Love this hike! On Sunday, December 4, 2017, we started at 7:30 AM from Manker Flats Trailhead and climbed up the ski hut trail to the top (about 4 miles); across the Devil's Backbone; and down to the ski lift and back to the car. We finished around 4:30; just before dark. The distance I calculated was a little under 11 miles (we took a detour using the fire road on the way down). It was just easier to walk. It was a cold day (mid 40s), and at the top and along the Devils Backbone the wind was strong, which made it colder. Still reasonable. Bring plenty of water (at least 2.5 liters). There is no water until you get to the ski lift area. The views are amazing all the way to the top. This is not an easy hike, but well worth it.

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked to the summit on 11/25/17, it was a steep climb all the way to the top. Late start at 10 am prompt us to take the 1st lift, 10:15 to 1:00 pm hike to the summit. Well worth the climb. At 1:30 pm we left the summit, we completed the loop at 4:45 pm. It was just as steep going down the mountain as it was up. No snow, no wind and it was a beautiful day 70 degrees for the high with a light breeze at times. Devil's backbone was not scary at all but would be in the snow or wind for sure. I had no effect from the elevation gain. A lot of loose rocks on the trail. I recommend if you have bad knees, back or ankles to wear the appropriate support. The difference between Mt Badin Powell and this hike is Badin Powell has switch backs and flat spots to catch your breath, Baldy is straight up. Baldy has great directional signs. There was no water so bring at the minimum 3L to 4L, no bugs, I recommend hiking shoes or boots. I would say this hike is strenuous for the experienced hiker. Ideally, I would have liked to start at 7am and end at around 2 or 3 pm. I loved this hike and would do it again, well worth the challenge.

4 months ago

loved this hike! first one and will do a couple more times to train for Whitney! I did this a few times and finally reached the summit on today's hike!!! perfect day, nice hikers! somebody gave me Gatorade since I almost ran out of water!

hiking
4 months ago

The hike has great views, but it is definitely not for beginners. I did the route clockwise where most people do it counter clockwise. Doing it clockwise knocks out the climbing faster because it is not gradual like going counter clockwise. Going clockwise does make it a lot harder. The Devil's Backbone was one of the hardest parts for me. It's not a lot of climbing, but certain sections are slightly narrow and both sides, if you fell off, can have you sliding down thousands of feet. It took us less than 7 hours which I believe isn't bad since we talked to a lot of people and took breaks to figure out which way to go since it was our first time. Parking was no problem considering it was Saturday. People were very helpful out on the trail, so it almost made it impossible to get lost because there were a lot of people who have taken those trails plenty of times.

hiking
5 months ago

Someone broke into my car and took my spare headlamp from the glove compartment and tshirt & sandals I brought to change after the hike. Didn't have anything else valuable in the car but center console was wide open and ransacked. Came on a Thursday 11/2/17, there were only a handful of cars there and people on the trail. 5/5 in terms of strenuous climb (vertical gain per mile) for Whitney training but 2/5 for views/etc. Prefer other hikes in the 6 peaks challenge (Cucamonga, Jacinto, etc.) better.

hiking
5 months ago

Awesome!! What a day!

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