Mount Baldy via Devil's Backbone Trail

HARD 771 reviews
#5 of 223 trails in

Mount Baldy via Devil's Backbone Trail is a 14 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Mt Baldy, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 14.0 miles Elevation Gain: 4,268 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

partially paved

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no shade

Taking the 10 - 60- or 210 fwy exit Mountain Ave. and head north. Mountain Ave. turns into Mt. Baldy Road, take this road all the way up to Manker Flats Road, located about 100 yards past Manker Flats campground on the west side on the street.

hiking
snow
11 days ago

In the winter, try to go on a day that's not too windy. I went today (1/6/20) when mountain-forecast.com said there would be 5mph winds on the summit, and it was still plenty windy. Summiting is doable at the moment—the snow's melted off a bit, and the trail snow is beaten down, but still expect some post-holing here and there. Start early if you're doing the route described here, like around 8AM, so you're back before it gets too dark. I went with microspikes and trekking poles, but I would have preferred crampons and an ice axe, especially for the last pitch to the summit.

snowshoeing
snow
14 days ago

1_3_20: Hiked to Baldy Restaurant via the fire road with snow shoes from restaurant to the beginning of devil's backbone. there was lots of snow in the top, but mixed forms. the resort staff said we could not hike up the left shoot, but ski patrol said it we were ok as long as we didn't interfere with skiers safety. long snow show up. you'll be in crampons and posthole the remainder. snow was soft and not as firm as we'd hoped so we skipped the summit from that side. needs another good dump or two.

hiking
15 days ago

Mount Baldy has been on my list of hikes to complete for a very long time. I had this hike on my list since 2012. I completed this hike with my partner-in-climb (aka my wife), a very close family friend, and a handful of cool California hikers that I met for the first time. Based on the hike's stats, I knew this hike would be challenging. I was properly armed with hike boots, comfortable dry-fit clothing, trekking poles, 3 liters of water, a turkey sandwich, and a ton of bacon. It took us a total of 7 hours to complete the hike, which included a few breaks and hanging out at the peak for about 45 minutes. We parked off the side of the road about a 1/4 mile from Manker Flats Campground and headed towards the peak via the Ski Hut Trail. The hike up was beautiful, some parts shaded, and we even got to witness some bighorn sheep doing what bighorn sheep do. The first 2.5-3 miles was fairly easy, and the climb wasn't too steep. During this stretch, we passed a small waterfall and reached the Ski Hut where we sat for a bit, got some rest, nibbled on a few snacks, and mentally prepared ourselves for what was coming next. The rest of the hike was tough and all uphill. Even the switchbacks were tough. Keep in mind that the elevation gain is almost 4,000 feet from the trailhead. Most of this elevation gain was the last mile or so to the peak. We got to the peak, admired the view, took our pictures, and headed back down via the Devil's Backbone trail. The hike down from the peak to the base of the Devil's Backbone was treacherous. It was very steep and tough on my already injured knee. At one point, my knee gave out and I ate some dirt. The Devil's Backbone wasn't too difficult, but very dangerous since it's a long way down and the trail is very thin. The rest of the hike is downhill and very steep as you get closer to the Mt. Baldy Ski Resort. On the way down, we spotted a bobcat chillin' in the shade and doing what bobcats do. He was one cool cat. We eventually got to the ski resort, rested, and rehydrated. We were pressed for time and took the ski lift from the resort to the parking lot, which shaved 2+ miles of hiking. In total, we hiked 8 miles. The hike was challenging, but well worth it. Mount Baldy Peak is one of the Six-Pack of Peaks of Southern California. One down, five more to go. Tip #1: Southern California Adventure Pass needed. We purchased ours at Big 5 located in La Verne for $5. Tip #2: This is a totally different hike during the winter. Snow and ice is not your friend on this hike.

icy
rocky
snow
18 days ago

Mt. Baldy is treacherous during the winter. Be prepared with gear and mentally prepare yourself as well. Probably one of the top 5 hard trails I've hiked in Los Angeles. Mount Wilson was a bit more challenging for me maybe because of the heat in the summer. This trail is steep on the way to the bowl, mini blizzards high winds that feel like knives hitting your face, icy, slippery steep trail on the way back down. Aside from some of these challenges Mt. Baldy offers beautiful views of Los Angeles and cloud scapes. Would go again maybe when it's not too snowed out.

hiking
1 month ago

Steep and there’s snow now 11/22. Breathtaking views as everyone’s mentioned. Definitely need crampons or a sled lol. There were some sketchy icy parts. Going down hill without crampons was like skiing.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

11/12/19 Very fun and steep trail! Ran to the top of baldy and back in just under 3 hours. Don’t leave your windows cracked and make sure to lock your car doors! My wallet got stolen out of my car.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

Did this on Sunday, and it was incredible. Some of the most beautiful views I've seen, some of the nicest hikers I've met, and some of the coolest trails I've ever hiked. That said, this is not an easy hike. In fact, there is nothing easy about this hike - period. We did the Devil's Backbone/Baldy Notch hike on the way up and came down the Baldy Bowl Trail. We started around 8am and got back to the car around 5pm. Come prepared to trek hard on this one because it'll give you a run for your money. Enjoy!

Great hike! But very difficult!

hiking
no shade
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

We hiked to the summit of Baldy starting at 2am from Manker Flats, taking the Ski Lift Trail to the Baldy Notch and then up the Devil’s Backbone to arrive at the summit in time for sunrise. The road was fine, consistent grade and fairly even and we had a clear and beautiful night with stars. The Backbone was an entirely different matter as hiking it in the dark makes it seem narrower and much more treacherous—being a powerful headlamp and trekking poles and good grippy boots! There are some sections where they really should install ropes as the edges are really narrow with steep drop offs. We got to the summit and enjoyed a cold but beautiful sunrise.

hiking
2 months ago

Loved this trail! Fantastic views from every direction the whole way up to the summit of Mt. Baldy. The knife’s edge section of Devils Backbone was wide enough for me to feel safe, however those with a fear of heights might not feel comfortable in this section.

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

this will take you @ 8 hrs to complete if you start at trail head and don't take the lifts....uaually closed during the week days anyways. 14 miles long with 1/2 hr. at summit for rest and lunch. 2 ....5min. breaks up an down. Great views. great hike!

Up devil's backbone. Down register ridge. Very fun if u slide thru the gravel the whole way down

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

Started the hike at 6:30 in the morning and did clockwise, was concerned about the air quality and smoke due to Saddleridge fire but it wasn't the case. Weather was nice, wasn't hot I consumed 1300ml of water. It was chilly and windy at the top but the view is gorgeous. Bring extra layer if you are going to enjoy the view for sometime. Enjoy:)

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

I did this 3 times. The first 2 times I didn't make it passed the Devil's Backbone Trail. Both times it was super windy and I got stage fright. I went on 9/6 with a friend and finally made it to the top. Mostly a rocky road that leads you up depends on which way you go up, I reccomend watching The Hiking Guy video on this.You should be sure you're in a good shape and there is a lot of uphill walking. The wind was calm and perfect and it's easy to find your way up to the top. Be sure you bring plenty of water as you will need it. So worth the trip that I cant wait to go back and do it again by myself. Happy Hiking!!

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike, started early, sunrise on Devils Backbone was amazing, incredible views, few people at the top at 8:30, scenic lift on the way down was easy on the knees!

Last half mile is brutal. Like, stop every 20 feet brutal. Views are definitely worth it, just bring lots of water. Hiking poles definitely recommended for the way down, you'll need something to hold yourself up and your legs will be made of jelly.

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

Tough trail, be prepared. Bring trekking poles.

hiking
3 months ago

I hiked this amazing route on September 28. Arrived at Manker Flats a little after 7 am and it was very cold at the trailhead. Warmed up to a crisp and comfortable high fifties I’d guess for the rest of the day. Extremely windy near and at the summit. Delicious burger at the Notch and a well earned beer preceded the last few miles down to Manker for a Strava reported 13.5 miles, 4,107’ of elevation. No bugs. Yeah! This was probably one of the hardest hikes I’ve done. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone looking for a substantial but doable challenge. It’s very easy to follow the route especially when there are so many other people around. That’s probably the only downside to this hike - it’s not much for solitude but there is a real spirit of comradely adventure and support from your fellow hikers.

hiking
off trail
rocky
3 months ago

Didn’t do this exact trail but it was fun and hot!

hiking
3 months ago

Intense hike, but well worth it at the top to see the view and get a good workout in while taking in the scenery! Watch my video experience to help guide you:) https://youtu.be/SWBul8WFSOE

hiking
3 months ago

It’s a quick one, heavy traffic even when starting at 1:48am, summitted by 4:48am had to kill time before the dawn so hole down MTN Baldy trail for a bit. The devils back bone has views from both sides. Steep the last couple miles, loose rocks. Overall fun trail. Only need 2L of water but the was an early AM start. Top to bottom was 5 and half hours not including the time On baldy trail waiting for the dawn. Have fun!

hiking
rocky
scramble
3 months ago

Great hike. Easiest of the 6 in my opinion.

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