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Mount San Antonio and Mount Baldy Notch Trail

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Angeles National Forest

Mount San Antonio and Mount Baldy Notch Trail is a 11.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Mount 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: 11.5 miles Elevation Gain: 3,940 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly

backpacking

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

bird watching

running

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

Did the trail clockwise. Agree that it’s easier on the knees and I thought views were better. Taking the loop as recommended will have you ascend via fire road for three miles

hiking
2 days ago

Beautiful day; started out cool at the bottom and warmed throughout the day. We did the loop clockwise, which I think is easier on the knees. About 30 people on the summit at 11:30. Definitely a workout! We might have taken the lift down, but it wasn't running.

ohv/off road driving
no shade
3 days ago

Beautiful day, super sunny and warm with a nice breeze. Got lost for a little and had to off road after I took the wrong trail from the summit down. Was surprised how few people there were once I passed the waterfall at the beginning. Next time I do this I will camp near the summit to break up the trip. Legs are waxed, great day trip!

hiking
no shade
rocky
4 days ago

Very challenging, but also very rewarding. The view on top is amazing. You don’t get much shade but you do get a lot of breeze. BRING THE RIGHT SHOES, I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH . Pack lightly. Nuts, fruit, and a lunch to eat the top peak If you are someone that gets cold easily take a sweater to wear once you’re on top, it’s chilly. -Josie & Gio

5 days ago

we started at 6:30 , parking was packed but we found parking by restrooms. we went up ski hut and the weather was perfect, we took our time and lots of stops. there was lots of people at the summit but everyone was keeping theirs distance the summit was windy but sunny. we went down, devils back bone and only felt scared in one sketchy part of this trail. overall great trail, this was my 3rd time up this beauty.

walking
fee
great!
no shade
rocky
washed out
5 days ago

Started at 10am, finish at 7pm, clockwise. Definitely less steep than going counter clockwise. The view along the way is stunning, especially at devil’s backbone. Definitely worth the time. We lost our way on the way down, where there are a lot of stones. The way down is boring and steep, took us a long time get to the car.

hiking
7 days ago

Well.. its starts off gradual enough. Then after you pass the ski resort it becomes heavy incline. This is Baldy!!! You are rewarded with stunning views. The hike down is steep. Your butt and calves will burn. Have fun!!

hiking
8 days ago

Baldy makes my list of favorites. The Baldy Bowl approach was absolutely perfect, short, steep with some agonizing scree and gravel slopes. It felt like I was taking one step forward and two steps back, but that only made the summit more rewarding. At 10 AM, the summit had minimal people on it, and it was incredibly peaceful. The Devil’s backbone descent was much easier on the knees and fairly scenic, it just got tedious at the end - the last three and a half miles walking on a dirt fire road weren’t so spectacular. Definitely do it on a weekday, and pick up your trash, the trailhead was teaming with litter. Also, the bathrooms at Manker Flats are HORRID!!

hiking
10 days ago

Great view. I went on the weekends and there were enough hikers to prevent from getting lost. In section, there are multiple paths and even folks who have been there take the wrong one here and there. Not for kids especially part of Devil Backbone. Steep drop on both sides with loose rock footing. Do go down and visit the waterfall. It feels so good to soak feet afterward.

hiking
scramble
10 days ago

Amazing hike but very steep. Very crowded parking lot! Get there early. We took the ski hut portion up and then down devil’s backbone through the ski resort. I’m glad we did as it was much steeper on the western portion of the loop and therefore easier on these older knees to go up with more grade and down with less grade.

hiking
12 days ago

Beautiful trail, but pretty crowdy. We were there Thursday morning around 8 AM and the parking was packed already. Along the trail we met a few people, but it was okay. First part from to the ski hut was shaded with nice views and up all the way. From the ski hut you have to climb all way up, but the views from the summit are worth it. The way down via devil's backbone trail was pretty easy with incredible views. The hike took us around 8 hours. Views are mind-blowing.

Excellent weather and not to crowded

hiking
15 days ago

Skipped the crowds and hit the trail at 6:15am on a Tuesday. Pretty easy up the dirt road for the first 3 miles until just past the ski lodge area...then the real fun begins. Pretty steep the rest of the way. When you see the last stretch before the summit you have to just put one foot in front of the other. Tiny patch of snow left up there. The way down the bowl trail is quicker but steep. Poles are a must. Grab the hikkingguys turn by turn directions so you don’t get lost.

hiking
15 days ago

Beautiful day on the trail, with large patches of snow still sticking around near the top. The last 1/2 mile or so is extremely steep, so just take your time going up. Coming down is really hard on the knees, and I would strongly suggest using poles for this part.

hiking
16 days ago

Love this route! Took it counter clockwise and I am so glad I did. Quicker route to the top even though it’s was a more challenging incline so worth it. Shoutout to the person or persons that made the new Baldy sign! That had to take some time and turn out awesome. So much to see doing this loop will definitely make this my new route...

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
16 days ago

hiking
blowdown
muddy
rocky
16 days ago

It is a little bit difficult ,but the view is perfect ,snow .water .big tree.

Beautiful morning up the Ski Hut Trail. Saw a bear across the canyon while at the ski hut. Long downhill from the Notch back to Manker Flats. Hard but rewarding hike!

hiking
rocky
17 days ago

We started at 5 AM yesterday and hiked up Devil’s Backbone and down Ski Hut. This is my third time hiking Baldy and I think I prefer the opposite route (going up Ski Hut and down the Backbone). Note that the descent down Ski Hut may be tough on the knees and hips, and also is a more narrow trail. Because we started so early, we hit the morning rush on our way down Ski Hut. I’ve never seen so many people on the trail. In total, it took us around 5 hours round-trip of hiking + an hour at the peak. It wasn’t too cold or windy at the top but I’d always recommend bringing a jacket nonetheless. The views are gorgeous! Definitely one of the harder hikes in SoCal—but would highly recommend.

hiking
bugs
no shade
rocky
scramble
17 days ago

Peak 3/6 for the SoCal 6 pack of peaks challenge. What an incredible trail this is! Up the steep baldy bowl and down to the devil’s backbone is the way to go. I bagged West Baldy and Harwood peaks along the way. Both definitely worth it and I highly recommend. Apparently the bighorn sheep hang around west baldy a lot but I didn’t see any today. It only took me 2:15 to get up to the peak after starting around 7am, so I hung around west baldy and baldy summit for a bit before I had an early lunch. Loads of cool people I met up there. It tends to be one of the more crowded trails in SoCal, but the views are definitely a good reason why it is so. The elevation gain’s sheer at miles 2 and 4, I gained over 1,100 in both of those miles. Highly highly recommend, but expect there to be lots of foot traffic and a parking lot filled by 7:15am.

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