Mount San Antonio and Mount Baldy Notch Trail

HARD 732 reviews
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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

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
1 day 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 day 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
4 days ago

hiking
no shade
rocky
7 days 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!

hiking
bugs
rocky
8 days ago

Great hike. Highly recommend starting early in the morning. Did the hike on a Saturday. We got to trailhead around 6am and the parking area was already pretty full. Suggestions for the novice hiker: 1) Take the loop clockwise - it's easier on your knees, and you get to the top faster 2) Wear hiking shoes / boots. The extra grip is worth it. 3) Bring poles. You can get them for as low as $20 on Amazon. Think of it as insurance for your knees 4) Lots of water. At least 3 liters. This is mainly for your way up. 5) A hiking backpack with hydration bladder is helpful. You can get one for $30 at Costco 6) There is a Lodge on your way down. Grab a bite / drink. Make sure to take the right trail down once you pass the lodge however. There are many and it can be confusing This is a very doable hike. Even saw a woman bring a dachshund with her on the hike and complete the whole thing. Just make sure to prepare properly if you're new to hiking or haven't done much strenuous exercise recently. If you're deathly afraid of heights, you may want to avoid the devil's backbone as well.

hiking
rocky
13 days ago

dogs. our husky did the whole loop. his paws were fine except the loose gravel road at the end was annoying. little sensitive from all the little rocks. if your dog isn't used to tough terrain; would definently reccomend booties. there were other breeds there when we went and the one that did the full loop had the booties. the summit has no shade and prior to it very little so the ground may get hot in august... we went july 4th and it was bearable. there was some running water creeks that he drank from and you can fill up some water at the ski lodge and ski lift.

hiking
14 days ago

This hike was easy for me, and I felt like cucamonga was a lot harder. I would recommend bringing poles. Once you are walking down the bowl theres a lot of loose gravel. 3lbs of water was just enough for me. I would recommend bringing some extra bottle waters just Incase it gets hot.

hiking
rocky
15 days ago

hiking
rocky
21 days ago

It was tough all incline all the way I went up Baldy road to Summit and back the same way. Fell down three time on the way down. 3litter of water was good for me. This was a tough hike.

hiking
bugs
21 days ago

As spectacular as always. Hiked it from Manker Flats via Baldy Bowl and down Devil's Back Bone. Only small patches of snow left. 5 hours with breaks. Took the ski lift down after a burger break at Top of the Notch. Lots of bugs!

hiking
25 days ago

Great and challenging peak hike. Went up Baldy Bowl Trail and down Devil's Backbone. Awesome views both going up and at the peak. Definitely recommend a beer and burger at the Notch restaurant after descending off the backbone and ski slopes. Only complaint about this hike is that the last few miles are all fire road and pretty boring. We tracked the hike at 10 miles, took us about 7 hours including some time sight seeing at the top.

hiking
29 days ago

Took me 3 hours to the summit using the Ski Hut route, headphones on to deal with some steep parts. I remember the trail feeling longer in the past. Had a snack at the top and back through the Devil's Backbone, took the chair lifts back to Manker Flats.

hiking
29 days ago

Started at 6am on a Saturday. Lot was full. People everywhere. Did the loop clockwise: Hiked up Ski hut trail and it was strenuous and steep.. great workout!!!! Water at 8100 feet if you need it (stream.. bring filter), bathroom at Ski Hut. Cool and shady until mile 3 or 4. Poles and windbreaker advised. We summited at 9:15 and there were about 50 people up there. Views are amazing!!!! Going down Devils backbone was busy.. lots of hikers coming up. Crazy busy. Grabbed lunch at ski lodge. The fries are amazing. Last 3 miles is long flat fire road.

hiking
1 month ago

Hey recent climbers (as of June 18), is it correct that there is really no snow on the trail currently - nothing requiring spikes? Thanks!

hiking
1 month ago

came out from San diego and stayed in the sketchiest of motels nearby - scoring a site at manker with only 21 sites and all of LA is out of the question on a Friday night. backpacked this clockwise 6/8 weekend, staying at the top, going up ski hut, down backbone in the am. brought ALL of my water and felt like a dunce. ranger station was closed still at 800 when I got there so wasn't able to get good trail conditions with re. to water. permit is free, fill it out at the board in from of ranger station. 2 miles up ski hut, you will find the river is still PUMPING. obviously filter before drinking. peak still has snow, albeit not a ton. confirmed via binoculars from Cucamonga peak 6/15. if you plan on using snow, use a proper filter as some of the snow was odd colored from smog. ski hut itself was a little tough as it is steep as heck in some parts, but doable. sunset/ sunrise was amazing as staying just a tad lower west of the peak on the saddle made it the most epic campsites I've had. no wind during day, 35+- mph at night. bring extra stakes or pile rocks on top, there's only so much dirt to stake into on the summit as it's most rock underneath. going down is quite technical at first, but take your time and you'll be safe. def a few spots on the trail where if you fall you'll probably die, but nothing we don't know here. feel like a snob, but the trail past the restaurant is quite frankly a little uneventful as it is a fire road, minimal shade but glad to have taken this route down as it is alot easier on the knees. if day hiking, bring water - don't become a statistic and please stay safe. happy trails!

hiking
scramble
1 month ago

We went up Baldy Bowl/Ski Hut, which is the more difficult ascent. Doing so made the descent a breeze, as we were able to stop by the Top of the Notch Lodge for a burger on our way down to Manker Flats. You can also buy lift tickets for around $10 at the restaurant, if you don’t feel like hoofing it down.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Loved this trail! Went up Baldy bowl and down the backbone. Very challenging combo of altitude and trail grade on the upper bowl! Weather was gorgeous, no wind at the top, but a moderate amount of wind on the backbone. Beautiful landscape, perhaps my favorite hike so far.

Great hike! Beautiful day! Go get it!

rocky
scramble
1 month ago

Hiked June 9. Still patches of snow near the top, but the trail was clear. Very few bugs, and on an 80 degree day, hot everywhere except the summit and the backbone. We went clockwise, which makes for a strenuous climb up, and a more gradual way down. I would think this is easier than going down the ski hut side which has long stretches of loose scree, making for a pretty slippery descent. The spring at the ski hut still had plenty of cool water. Hard hike but the views and variety are worth it. The Devil's Backbone section is epic.

1 month ago

Challenging hike and beautiful day! We love our Baldy hikes!

hiking
1 month ago

The Sky Hut trail is great for a good work out but I highly recommend starting early to get parking and to avoid high traffic on the trail.

hiking
no shade
1 month ago

Perfect weather with minimal wind at the summit. Highly recommend going UP the ski hut route and DOWN the devils backbone. Ski hut side is steep and loose, in certain sections, and would be difficult to maneuver down. Bring sunscreen and get there early. Manker Flats lot was already quite full when we arrived at 630. A decent pair of poles goes a long way on this trail.

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