Mount San Antonio and Mount Baldy Notch Trail

HARD 783 reviews
#2 of 213 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

trail running

bird watching

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.

hiking
1 day ago

Hiked 8/17/19 starting on devils back bone. Great hike and the views were awesome. A little windy at the top but we could see all the way to the pacific. Started at 6:00 and summited at 10:00. Came down baldy bowl and finished at 1.

hiking
1 day ago

Great hike. Started at 4:45am, plenty of parking, went counter-clockwise and hiked by moonlight for an hour. Awesome colors as the sun came up - no crowd at all, air was cool and fresh. Counter-clockwise you start out on fire roads for the first few miles, then you begin to really climb after the ski lodge/lift, then you hit the Devils Backbone trail, then the summit. Took three hours to summit and there were only five people up there that early. Views are amazing even though the marine layer covered the Inland Empire, cool to see the surrounding mountains sticking out of the clouds though. The way down is steep and there were tons of folks who were on their way up, I was happy I got there early. Great trail, beautiful views, will do clockwise next time. Early is the key.

Such a tough yet amazing hike. Went clockwise. Loved getting a brewski on the way down.

Great weather on this hike today. We opted to go up Baldy Bowl/Ski Hut and down the backbone portion. Easier for my old knees but it was difficult. Plenty of parking at 6 am. Longer than 9 miles - we recorded 10.8. Take plenty of water and start early. Take your time and just keep plugging away.

hiking
3 days ago

Went up Ski Hut/Baldy Bowl and down Devils Backbone. Beautiful scenery and perfect day. It’s nearly 4000ft in 4 miles on the way up via ski hut but much of it is shaded. So if a you prefer a steep ascent and a slower descent then do it clockwise. That also means you reach the restaurant at the Notch (top of the ski lift) in time for lunch and then an easy walk down the road for 3’ish miles back to your car. Very satisfying day out.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
3 days ago

today 8/17/19 was beautiful. great hike. took the long way up across devils backbone and then came down the baldybowl trail. very few bugs. very windy near the top and the summit. bring lots of water.

hiking
4 days ago

Left OC 730. Reached the visitor center around 830. Got the maps , some info , restroom visit and then to Manker flat camp parking lot by 9 ish. Started the hike at 930 - at around elevation Of 6000 ft. Some people take ski lift to the ski resort and begin the hike there. We instead walked uphill for 3.5 miles to the ski resort. Took 30 min long break. And began second stretch of 3.2 miles to the summit. Amazing views, windy, cool, some sun, but real uphill that needs a lot of focus and attention. Some parts are bit treacherous. Several quick breaks to catch breath because of the elevation. Devil’s backbone offers incredible views. This stretch is EXPOSED- no shade at all but i guess that’s why you can see the the other mountains, canyons and valley so clearly. At the summit at 10064 ft , We took 45 long break and I took a 15 min nap, stretched, took pics , had snacks and decided which way to climb dow. We took the steeper way down - Baldy bowl trail to the parking lot - last stretch of 4 miles . Sandy and very steep , I was on my butts and hands at few places. Poles are must coming down! Very shaded, beautiful scenery again. Got to be very mindful coming down. Encountered a tiny Water fall. And visited the Sierra ski lodge. Varied landscape in this stretch - sandy , rocky . Colorful with flowers, Some boulders, some part through the bushes, some road. And finally back to the car by 630. I was hugely impressed to see small kids and elderly folks doing this hike. But of course didn’t know if they took the lift up and only did the hard part of the trail. It’s a day long affair but it’s totally worth the time! Mountains are the best to hike up in summer and once at the summit the views make you forget all the exhaustion and soreness. At that elevation you don’t feel the heat at all! I had 3 liters on me and some fruits and food. I still had 3-4 cups water left at the end of the hike.

hiking
8 days ago

It was a great hike on sunny Saturday on Aug. I did the loop clock-wise, climbing up the ski hut trail, and descending devil's back bone. The hike itself was great. Most of the path commands great view, and from the top, you see both north side and South side of the mountain range. If I can complain, there were too many people for my preference. When I got to the parking around 640am, there were so many cars already and there was a long queue in front of the bathroom at the trailhead. And I always had somebody immediately in front of me until I got to the ski hut (the first 1.5 hours of the hike). After that to the summit, it got much better, but the summit was like another party. In summary, I recommend you to start waaay earlier than me to enjoy comfortable hike. Also, if you do clock-wise in the weekend, I recommend to use lift to go down. From lift stop, it is a little bit boring since you are only climbing down ski trail.

hiking
8 days ago

Great hike. Completed it Saturday 8/10. Got to the trailhead around 7:45 and had to park about 1/4 mile away. Bring your adventure pass with you or you can stop at the visitors center on the way up to get one which opens at 7:30 on the weekends. I took the recommendation from the comments and did the baldy bowl to devils backbone route (clockwise) which I highly recommend. Look for the baldy bowl offshoot shortly after the waterfall on your left. Taking baldy bowl in the morning makes it shady for awhile and then you’re able to refill your water with fresh spring water before you reach the top. No bugs but load up on sunscreen. It mapped 11.9 miles including walking to/from parking.

hiking
9 days ago

This is a great trail with amazing views, definitely is one of my favorite trails, yesterday was my first time hiking Mount San Antonio . I normally hike every weekend to a different trail, but this trail definitely will be one of my favorite trails to go back.

hiking
9 days ago

Great hike. On the way up, took baldy notch and devils backbone. Came back via ski hut route. Make sure you have plenty of water. It is not too tough in summer conditions. I took plenty of breaks and hiked very slowly without taking any risk - I was spooked by what I read online about the backbone trail. It is definitely not tough in summer conditions, some other sections might be harder. The final push to the summit is steep, so do it at your own pace. The return trail through ski hut is also steep. Overall, I really enjoyed it. Great views throughout and also from the summit.

This is one of the best trails I’ve hiked in a long time!! And it’s only 30 minutes away from upland! I can’t believe I haven’t done it before. Parts of it are quite steep especially toward the summit so be prepared! Decent shade on the early parts of the Baldy Bowl trail but seems to be less on the devils ridge/summit. The Devils ridge was way cooler in person than I expected. There’s also Bouldering in the Baldy Bowl!! As an avid rock climber this is quite exciting. I love that it can be hiked as a loop. Will do again.

hiking
16 days ago

Amazing hike! Did it 8/3 so starting early was a necessity. We took Baldy Bowl up and Devils Backbone back down. It was a constant strenuous incline the whole way, with a nice chance for rest at the ski hut. Make sure to bring plenty of water. I did not use poles but I could see how they could be very useful. Going back down devils backbone you get to stop for a beer at the Notch which makes it all worth it. 100% would do it again. Great training for any high altitude hikes /backpacking.

hiking
21 days ago

Great hike, definitely recommend it. Hiked it on 7/29 for the first time and it's officially one of my new favorites in Southern California. Devil's Backbone is amazing.

hiking
23 days ago

Woke up at some unhuman hour for a Sunday to get ready, meet my hiking companion for the day, at drove up to the trailhead. I was worried about parking and beating the 90f+ predicted high for the day. At 6:30 parking was easy. We had the $5.00 adventurer parking pass, and headed up the Mt.Baldy Trail. The climb was constant, and at 3,800 feet was kicking my butt in hotter conditions than I like. But, plenty of distractions: San Antonio Waterfalls, the Sierra Club Ski Hut, wildflowers in the creek. Lots of people were gathered at the top, probably over 30 hikers and runners. We came down the Devils Backbone, and I was happy for loops and enjoyed the backbone immensely. At Baldy Notch Ski Resort, we grabbed a beer, and contemplated if the ski lift down was bad form or not. Since it was over 90f, and we had already done the climbing, that it was an acceptable alternate to get back down. I truly enjoyed the ride down and was glad we made the call.

hiking
26 days ago

Let me start off by saying I thoroughly enjoyed this hike. I did it solo and it was my first time to the Baldy summit and I really enjoyed working my way up. The views from the summit were incredible and everyone is super supportive of one another at the summit. The one downside was coming down through Baldy Bowl. Maybe it would've been different if I had poles, but coming down the bowl was very strenuous. I much preferred going up than coming down! Nevertheless, it was a great hike and I'd love to head up again sometime!

hiking
27 days ago

Great training trail for Mt Whitney. Gets you to 10,000 for altitude. Made it up in 4 hrs for 4.5 miles. Another 3.5 hrs for 6.7 miles down and stop for a beer at Top of the Notch. 11.1 miles tracked.

hiking
30 days ago

Summited July 20 with my awesome hiking group. Arrived 5:30 am with lots of parking available. Took Baldy Bowl trail up and arrived at the top in 4 hours 20 minutes. Took Devil's Backbone down arriving at Top of the Notch Lodge in 2 hours where cold beer awaited

hiking
no shade
rocky
30 days ago

We arrived at the trailhead at around 6 a.m. and were able to find parking. We took another reviewer's advice and took the route in the clockwise direction and agree that it's a lot better. We took Devil's backbone to the Top of the notch restaurant, ordered a Michilada to go and enjoyed it on the way down on a chairlift!

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

Wow did this from Manker Campground and finished in at 11.5mi round trip. This is definitely tough, harder than I remember but really empowering when done. I second going up towards Ski Hut and taking Devils Backbone down. We went through the ski lodge parking and split the group to get the car when one member was in a world of hurt. It was also dark at this time so taking the fire road/baldy rd was easy with headlamps. BRING POLES. Seriously, I did it once without and was slipping on my tush and grabbing at roots to help keep me from falling off the mountain in the final 2mi ascent. I saw many people struggling and believe me, the poles HELP. There's a water fountain at Baldy Notch restaurant or bring a water filter for the stream next to the Ski Hut. I drank 4L myself and most in my group had at least 3L. Definitely worth doing at least once.

hiking
no shade
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
no shade
rocky
1 month ago

Intense!! Started out from Manker flats which made for a longer hike ( over 11 miles). This hike is rocky with a lot of loose dirt and rocks, so watch your footing. It was a hot day but the winds and breeze helped make devils backbone a bit more bearable. Great workout!

Load More

Featured Trails