Mount San Antonio & Mount Baldy Notch Trail

HARD 1,014 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
3,940 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.

2 days ago

Awesome hike. Did the hike on Saturday October 13, 2018. Snow and Whiteout at the top. Be prepared for freezing temperatures.

hiking
8 days ago

Did this hike yesterday with a friend, our first time doing this. We planned on doing the hike via devil's backbone and down but we took the wrong trail and playfully hiked a few miles and relized we were at the ski hut. probably one of the best mistakes we did during this hike, our knees thanked us when we got back down via backbone. The weather was pleasant with occasional gusts which felt very chilly but the sun being out almost all day helped. Views on the way up and down were spectacular. All in all a difficult hike made easy by the good weather and amazing views.

11 days ago

Absolutely fantastic! Challenging is an understatement. Did it alone and never got lost. The view up top was beautiful! Definitely pack warm gear because it was maybe 40 degrees with a 50 mile per hour wind gusts early this morning. Loved it!!!

hiking
15 days ago

One of my favorite 'local' hikes. The most difficult portions is the final climb right before the summit and the rest of the decline since I am somewhat clumsy coming down. Views were great except for the summit since it was in a haze with lots of wind.

hiking
16 days ago

Great hike! Don’t try this if you have bad knees as the downhill section will be torture. Luckily for me my knees are not completely gone but I definitely was feeling it.

hiking
16 days ago

My third time doing this hike but first time doing the loop counter clockwise which I was told is "easier". I didn't think so. I prefer clockwise because the down portion the way back from the peak is brutal and you don't get that treat of an ice cold craft beer at the lodge.

TIPS: pack lots of water; do the loop counter clockwise so you can spend some time drinking a beer at the lodge at the end; don't forget your Adventure Pass.

30 days ago

Tough brutal hike, great workout, well worth the effort when you reach the peak.

hiking
1 month ago

Being out there in the mountains is "Heaven on Earth" as far as I'm concerned. The scenery is absolutely majestic, and awe inspiring. The only thing that's ever taken my breath away is mountains and women. So you need to get out there, and "wash your spirit clean."

Completed my second Summit of Mt Baldy today. First summit was 2 weeks ago, up and down via Devil's Backbone. 2nd time I went up via Ski Hut/Baldy Bowl, and down Devil's Backbone to Manker flats campground.

I felt routes we're on par in terms of difficulty.

Met some nice people along the way. "Hikers generally are a good bunch". However, there are some hikers along the trail who will not stop talking (non-stop)which drives me nuts when your on a single line trail. Then there are those who are blasting music out of their phones for all to hear. This too drives me nuts (Get some damn earphones!). I go out to hike the mountain to get away from the noise, and the city life. It blows my mind some people...my apologies for the misanthropy, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around why these people are out on a trail.

It's awesome there is a restaurant ' Top Of the Notch' in the vicinity of Devil's Back Bone to stop, rest,bathrooms and eat if you need to. And if you get exhausted you can take the ski lift down (No I didn't cheat - but I did think about it).

Parking was not too bad. Left at 6am got there at 7:30am and there was plenty of spots. Left Manker at 8am towards Ski Hut Trail, and made it back to the car a little after 2PM. Hiking at that elevation with no shade between 1PM - 6PM your going to get some sun on you..something to keep in mind before hand. In the summer make sure you have protective head gear, and wear sun tan lotion.

My first Summit of Baldy the sun kicked my butt more than the actual hike itself, because of extenuating circumstances (my friends brought his kid), the hike ended up taking 12 hours so we were still hiking during the hottest part of the day (They took the ski Lift).

There are a few spots where YOU HAVE to watch your footing (But you should always be watching your footing..right!?). Nothing major in the summer,but you need to be vigilant at a couple of spots because a slip, and your going to end up with more than just a few bumps and bruises. In the Winter I wouldn't do it, not without mountaineering experience (which I don't have). Summer, no problem, just go slow, and watch your step on a few narrow spots.

Apparently, the Ski Hut Trail (Baldy Bowl) and the Devil's Backbone are the new 'short' cuts to Mount San Antonio. The original Baldy Hike is from Bear Canyon but much harder (and less crowded). I may have to give this a try soon, along with the 3 T's.

1 month ago

the only reason for 4 stars is signage is not great coming down the the bowl . other than that, it's a kick ass challenge for anyone especially an old man at 62 like me. Did it yesterday, and unlike a lot of people that leave reviews on how fast they can do a trail, I took my time and did it in 12 hours. went up through the skilift trail, then all the was to summit, the down through the bowl. Great hike, part of the six pack challenge, not sure at my age I'd do it again but 3 down and 3 to go. Special thanks to Lisa, who was an angel and gave me extra water from her supply.
if you think the world is short of great people these days, go on a hike , you'll meet plenty. it will restore your faith in mankind. Go Clemson, hope you see this!

hiking
1 month ago

Gorgeous. Challenging. Unique. Ascend the Baldy Bowl and descend Devil's Backbone to the lodge and have a beer.

BUT we didn't know the annual Race to the Top event was happening on Labor Day, so there were more than 500 people on the devil's backbone trail...

hiking
1 month ago

Sept 1, started at 7am. Trail was already busy. Did the route counter clockwise. Coming down the baldy bowl trail is brutal on the quads. The summit was rad. Lots of hikers, and one crazy guy on a mountain bike. I asked him if he rides it down devils backbone. Dude says yes. Crazy. Bring at least 4 liters of water, lunch, and be ready for the burn! 6 hours from start to finish. Awesome waterfall just off the trail. Definitely doing this one again.

hiking
1 month ago

This was my favorite Southern California hike to date!

hiking
1 month ago

Started early Friday at daylight. Views going up that day were amazing. Spent the entire day exploring and photographing this majestic mountain area. It has everything; a waterfall springs, a running ski lift, a scary devils backbone to cross, an airplane wreckage, gnarly rock maneuvering, beautiful manzanita, pines and wild flowers, an old ski hut & astonishing views. I will definitely be back to this area for more exploring. I may do this in reverse next time or take the Register trail and do Mt Harwood also. The scramble up the rocky side to reach the peak was intense. Think that might be better suited for a descent. No snakes, or bears, only cute lizards, chipmunks & squirrels. I do recommend trekking poles for some sections of this hike. I brought 1.8 liters water and finished it all.

hiking
1 month ago

Started early Friday at daylight. Views going up that day were amazing. Spent the entire day exploring and photographing this majestic mountain area. It has everything; a waterfall springs, a running ski lift, a scary devils backbone to cross, an airplane wreckage, gnarly rock maneuvering, beautiful manzanita, pines and wild flowers, an old ski hut & astonishing views. I will definitely be back to this area for more exploring. I may do this in reverse next time or take the Register trail and do Mt Harwood also. The scramble up the rocky side to reach the peak was intense. Think that might be better suited for a descent. No snakes, or bears, only cute lizards, chipmunks & squirrels. I do recommend trekking poles for some sections of this hike. I brought 1.8 liters water and finished it all.

hiking
1 month ago

Did the for real loop for the first time. Probably the easiest way up Baldy, but very beautiful none the less, especially when you get to the Devil's Backbone. Ski hut trail is getting more and more eroded every time I hike it. Probably better to go back down the Devil's Backbone instead if you want to save your knees.

hiking
1 month ago

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

hiking
2 months ago

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.

2 months ago

Yes

2 months ago

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

hiking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

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

backpacking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

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

hiking
2 months ago

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.

2 months ago

This hike rules!

3 months ago

Amazing views

hiking
3 months ago

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.

3 months ago

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

3 months ago

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.

hiking
3 months ago

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.

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