Mount San Antonio & Mount Baldy Notch Trail

HARD 686 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.

hiking
2 days ago

Snowy but passable for this visiting Wisconsinite. Nice summit views. Warm temps. I only needed a light jacket and headband. I started the route by passing through the ski area and finishing with Baldy Bowl. I only saw three other hikers before summiting. on the way down, I passed many hikers going the other way, easily numbering 50 or more. By the time I finished at 1pm, the parking lot was a mass of humanity, completely full with cars of hikers and skiers.

3 days ago

First winter hike on this trail. Snowed all day long. I like snow covered Mt. Baldy than dry/hot summer hike. Weather is mild even in January here but still need to drive carefully to the trail head when it snows.

hiking
16 days ago

Started the hiking going up the Baldy bowl trail. Good amounts of snow once you get to the ski hut. Micro spikes and trekking poles helped a lot and were necessary for me in most of the snow and icy sections but there were some hikers who didn’t have spikes and or poles. I think if you had crampons they’re fine but might have been over kill. Reached the summit and then decided to do devils backbone on the way down. Not for the front hearted but definitely worth it. It says 9 miles or something but my strava got me at 12 miles. This is my second hike and I loved it. Can’t wait to do it again.

hiking
18 days ago

We did this on 12/27, so some info for those looking for details on conditions, etc.

We went to the Ski Hut and then went straight up a chute as opposed to staying on the trail. There’s barely enough snow to do this, so be advised. Crampons, poles, and axe are recommended. I don’t think you’d need an axe if not climbing this part and instead stuck to the trail.

We then hit the summit and took Devil’s Backbone down. Again, crampons and poles recommended.

There’s decent snow/ice above 8500’ in most places.

The rest of it is pretty easy. I’d recommend hitting the ski area on the way down, grabbing a beer, and having a drink on the lift down to skip about a mile of pretty unrewarding terrain down (we did!).

Enjoy!

hiking
23 days ago

Amazing hike, we did it through devil’s backbone out and back. Definitely recommend crampons over microspikes! The snow coverage makes it much more spectacular and scenic. Only used up about 2L of water since the conditions were cool. Poles are needed towards the last stretch to the summit, but didn’t require a snow axe. Took us 8 hours total with a few breaks here and there. Take warm accessories if you’re doing this in the winter such as gloves/ski mask; as it gets pretty windy at the top!

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike! Hard, but that’s why we do it. I’ve used this hike twice to train for Mt. Whitney.

hiking
1 month ago

Light snow about 500 ft or so to summit( 11/28. Microspikes not needed yet but could come in handy in the next couple days since it’s forecasted snow tomorrow...ran down devils back bone it was fun.. went clockwise. Steady incline at the end but nothing crazy. People say their vertigo thing could be an issue which I do have that problem... I didn’t feel anything out of ordinary except when looking at it from a distance made me dizzy. But walking through I was fine. Just Incase anyone else was wondering the same thing? Happy trails

1 month ago

Today: walked about halfway up the backbone from Notch. Chickened out at the hairpin turn around 8700 ft. as trail was very narrow and I had on ASICS with no trekking poles. Will attempt safely in the future. Lots of hikers. Beautiful weather. Bring a warm jacket and scarf. There is snow at the Baldy summit; you can see it from the trail.

hiking
1 month ago

Took an uber on my own from LA to manker flat. Not a lot of people on the weekend after thanksgiving. This trail has everything, waterfall, snow, and very amazing view. Around 11:30, decided to go counter clockwise, reached the top by sunset, very incredible view, but very windy and cold. Stayed for about 15 minutes then rushing to go down. Very challenging finding way down in the dark. But amazing experience seeing stars with naked eyes!
Arrived at the trailhead around 7pm and no phone reception to call uber, so decided to walk down for a phone reception but very lucky a very nice family offered to take me down the mountain even took me all the way to Pasadena. An amazing day, great experince, amazing views, fantastic thanksgiving getaway adventure.

1 month ago

Clockwise is the way the go this time of year. Top of the Notch restaurant is only open 11 to 5 so you get a good lunch break on the way down. Some snow at the top. Micro spikes are a good idea to bring along but full crampons and an axe was an overkill. We had great weather but it was a bit windy. Not a lot of people the day after Thanksgiving which was great. Definitely a great hike!

hiking
1 month ago

Did it on 11/19/18. We were planning to clockwise. Started from Manker around 10 to 10:30, then through paved wide drive road reach the split of badly bowl and fall road?. we took badly bowl. steep at beginning, slower in the middle, reach ski hub, then easier ascent. before summit, there are two strenuous ascending. On first one, the trail became really steep (>45%), with multiple possible ways, with dirt or loose graves ground. Then we were thinking it was almost summit, but one hiker told us it would take another 30-40 minutes before summit and suggested devil's backbone is a more dangerous down way. Right before summit, it was about 30 minutes 30% ascending. We arrived summit at 2pm. Since we knew sundown time was 5pm, devil's backbone is a much longer trail, our phone was out of battery, and it was our first time, we took the advise deciding coming down from badly bowl. My knees got killed. Slipping a few times per person. Yesterday was cloudy. when sun downed at 4:30, we reached the split. At 5pm, we backed to Manker flat parking lot.

Don't know how dangerous down from devil's backbone. But, down from badly bowl is asking for hammering on your knees.

backpacking
1 month ago

35 degrees at the summit. The Devil’s Backbone was the easier trail coming down.

hiking
2 months ago

This is great training hike for those wanting to do bigger peaks. SoCal has several extreme hikes that reach the tallest summits that are way more demanding. So this is a great hike to dial your gear and strategy for success.

2 months ago

Enjoy this hiking 10/27/18 was moderated to heavy, the weather was nice, a lot of people hiking, start going up as soon as we hit the trail. Love it planning on going back soon

hiking
2 months ago

Question....after doing this hike yesterday, our Garmin GPS logged it at 11.2 miles, not 9.2. Does anyone know what the correct mileage is for the loop? Thanks!

hiking
2 months ago

Did the loop counterclockwise, going up past the ski hut, and then on to the summit. Back down via Devil’s Backbone, I skipped the ski lift ride down because I didn’t want to cheat, but I would definitely opt to ride the lift down next time because it circumvents the most uninteresting part of the hike. Weather was chilly in the morning, light wind on the summit, got pretty warm on the way down. Dress in layers, it’s essential here.

I definitely think counterclockwise is the way to do Mt. Baldy, it’s absolutely phenomenal going up and around the Baldy Bowl. Every inch of it is breathtaking. It’s quite steep, but I think any fit person could do this hike with a little bit of training. The trail can be tricky to follow after you leave the ski hut, just stay focused and reference the GPS on this app when needed. Traversing the infamous Devil’s Backbone was very scenic and slightly terrifying. Numerous hikers have died on this section in the winter and it’s easy to see why. With zero snow on the trail, like today, the risk factor was marginal. Check conditions with the ranger station, and don’t attempt it if there’s snow, unless you have mountaineering equipment and you know what the hell you’re doing!

Left the car at 8:10a, got to the ski hut 9:45a, summit at 11:15a, back at the car 2:15p. I carried 3 liters of water, probably could’ve gotten by with less. There’s several streams and water sources along the Baldy Bowl side of the hike if you want to collect and filter.

This hike is absolutely incredible, I loved every mile of it and would definitely do it again.

hiking
2 months ago

Did the hike today. Trail was very nice, very gusty winds and it does get below freezing with the wind chill starting after the ski center. Recommend dressing appropriately. Devils backbone trail was clear, no snow until you get close to summit and even then only a few patches. Fantastic views, the most significant wildlife I saw was a cat at the ski center.

For first timers, start early, pack layers, go up the Baldy Notch trail as opposed to the ski-hut trail since you do a more gradual ascent on Baldy Notch (6.5 miles) as opposed to Ski Hut trail (3.5 miles with same ascent) . Also be prepared for the serious ascent after you get pass the ski hut, you're going to work those legs as everything leading up to Devils backbone and through it will be pretty steep climb.

3 months ago

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

hiking
3 months 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.

3 months 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
3 months 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
3 months 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
3 months 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.

4 months ago

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

hiking
4 months 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.

4 months 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
4 months 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
4 months 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
4 months ago

This was my favorite Southern California hike to date!

hiking
4 months 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.

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