Old Mount Baldy Trail

HARD 64 reviews

Old Mount Baldy Trail is a 12.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Mt Baldy, California that features a river and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and birding and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
12.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5816 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

trail running

forest

river

views

wildlife

This trail was made in the 1880's by Dr. Fairchild and Dell, who envisioned an observatory on the summit. The idea never materialized, but over the years the trail became popular and was used as the main route to travel to the summit from Mount Baldy Village. Trail begins at Mt Baldy Village and takes you through Bear Canyon, with its creek and rich canopy of Oak, Bay, Cedar, Fir and Pine. Bear Cyn emerges to open chaparral, which takes you to the ridge with an open Conifer forest and amazing views. You will climb the ridge for several miles and enjoy a treat of varied topography, shade, sun, and breathtaking views. After an incredible 6.5 miles and over 6000 feet of elevation gain, you will reach the Mount Baldy summit.

hiking
1 month ago

This hike is steep. With loose soil and gravel on the way up. Bring plenty of water. This hike is very difficult. Condition yourself and train before attempting this climb to 10,000ft.

hiking
1 month ago

TLDR: This hike is steep but reasonable. Excellent training hike for Cactus to Clouds. Harder than San Gorgonio (Vivian Creek) or San Jacinto (Marion Mountain or Deer Creek) imho, but not not by much.

The gate to the welcome center was closed, but there is parking on the street just to the right of the gate. There were signs instructing us pull in nose first. I displayed my pass on the rear view mirror.

The climb begins before you even make it to the trail head and does not let up until at least 3 miles into the hike. Even when it lets up, you're obviously still climbing, it's just not as steep. This works out nicely however because as the elevation starts to take its effect on your body, the climb becomes easier.

I would say the steepest sections are on par with Sturtevant Trail at Mt Wilson, the first mile of Vivian Creek at San Gorgonio or climbing the south side of Telegraph Peak on Three T's Trail. Point being its a good quad burning climb, but it's reasonable for a seasoned hiker. However, I would not recommend this trail to anyone who has not at least hiked Baldy via Ski Hut Trail or San Gorgonio from Vivian Creek. This is just my personal opinion, but this trail is harder than both of those. People use this as training for Cactus to Clouds or Whitney for a reason.

Around the time the incline lets up a little bit, the view opens up as well. There are excellent views of all the local peaks including Bighorn, Sugarloaf, Ontario, Cucumonga and the Three T's. As you near the summit, Harwood, West Baldy and Baldy come into view. And obviously from the peak you can see everything including San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, Santiago, Santa Catalina Island and even Boney Ridge in the Santa Monica Mountains.

As for the descent, I can't comment on the "out and back" route as my friend and I went back using Ski Hut Trail. It was his first time to Baldy (experienced hiker however) and he wanted to check out the sights Baldy Bowl had to offer. He was not disappointed. But I imagine if you went back down the way you came, trekking poles would be a HUGE help as some sections are rather steep and slippery, just like Ski Hut Trail.

hiking
3 months ago

No nonsense path to the summit.
Started just before 6am and reached the summit at 10:30. The first 2 miles is a fairly easy walk from the church parking lot to Bear Flats, from that point the next 3.5 miles are the toughest with almost 4,000 feet of elevation gain. The total mileage recorded was 13.5 with a net elevation gain of 5,900 feet. It was very windy at the summit with sustained wind of about 20 miles per hour making the temperature feel like mid to high 30’s. The decent only took about 3 hourswith my total time on the mountain 8 hour and 15 minuets including breaks. This was my first time on this trail and I will definitely be doing it again in the future.

hiking
3 months ago

This hike is extremely taxing, both uphill *and* downhill. Don’t take it lightly! I’m bad about drinking water, and I routinely drink my full 3L supply by the time I return to the trailhead. But despite the fact that this hike is very difficult, I do enjoy it. The topography changes are dramatic, and the hike isn’t too busy so it’s quite peaceful.

hiking
3 months ago

The Bear Canyon/old baldy trail was a tough one compared to the other more crowded trails to Mt Baldy, I loved the lack of people, although I met a few nice hikers and had a few inspiring chats along the way. Headed down the Bear Canyon trail for the descent as well, something I will prob not do again, the descent was hurting to much on my knees, even with hiking poles. Overall I felt this hike was harder than the San Gogonio trail I did from Vivian Creek two weeks ago, mostly because of the descent.

hiking
3 months ago

One of the harder ones for me. Of course my wife Rosa had no problem with Baldy.(She's done Whitney several times) Small group, we ate breakfast after hiking up to the Lodge. We took a few hours to summit. I was pretty spent. We went hiked back to the Lodge and rode the lift down to the parking lot.

hiking
6 months ago

If you wanna test yourself you should defenetly check this trail out.
I was looking for a challenging trail and I found it.
I started at 8:40 AM from the church parking lot. The temperature that day was about 77 at the bottom and 67 at the top.
First 4K were easy, I thought I gonna reach the top in 2-3 hours. The sun was rising higher, the temperature was increasing. From 4K to 7K it felt a bit hot. When I reached the pines the wind was cooling. The hike became more enjoyable. The scenery closer to the top was stunning.
With comfortable pace, taking brakes, enjoying the view it took me 4.5 hours to get to the summit and 3.5 hours back to the village.

hiking
6 months ago

Started off at 5:20 am on the Bear Canyon - Old Baldy Trail. Temperature was about 67 degrees. Carried 17 lbs pack with 1.5 gallons of water to prepare for Cactus to Clouds. Reached the summit at 9:05 am. and had consumed 1 liter of water, and no food. My second time doing this, and it still feels like an unrelenting slog. Was windy and about 55 degrees at the top, but I had my shirt off during the entire ascent, and I was warm enough to keep it off for 10 minutes while enjoying the view. Good crowd of about 20 had already made it to the summit from Baldy Bowl and Devil's Backbone. Only 2 others I recognized from Bear Canyon ascent.

Descended back the same way, and it warmed up quickly. I actually consumed more water on the way down (1.5 liters) as the temperatures rose to 92 degrees. Returned by 11:50 am. Saw a lot of folks coming up, and I was aching to think how the climb must feel as the temperatures were rising.

Interesting to see several large groups of 10 or more Korean hikers. Is Seuk Doo Kim their inspiration?

hiking
6 months ago

Really nice hike close to LA! So many people do either the devils backbone or the more direct Baldy Bowl trail as a training hike for Mt Whitney but honestly, this is the one to do. I just completed it starting from the road and alltrails had me at 12.1 miles with 5,830' of gain. Whitney really isn't a super hard hike, it's just long. If you can do this and reach the summit in about 3h and 45m or less, then you'll have no problem with Whitney. This trail maintains a steeper ascent than Whitney, although it still has some flat(er) spots throughout - particularly during the last 2 miles to the summit. I started at 6am and reached the summit in 2h 40m. The first 1.5 is pretty pedestrian and then you start to climb. Definitely try to reach the summit before the sun heats up everything. By 10am it already gets pretty hot and the less water you have to bring - and the less sunscreen you have to apply - the better. Views in the morning are really enjoyable, so don't forget to soak them up!

hiking
7 months ago

Excellent training hike! We did this hike on July 1st. We staged a car at Manker Flats then drove back down to the trailhead. Parking is on the street (inside the white lines) and it fills up pretty quickly. There is also a dirt lot about a 1/4 mile up the road on the left. I began tracking the hike at the Church parking lot. It took us just under 5 hours to summit. It was almost 7 miles and the elevation gain was about 5400'. This trail is steep, so make sure you are ready for the challenge. There are two miles where the elevation gain for each is just over 900' and one mile where the elevation gain was just over 1300'. We came down the Ski Hut trail, it too was steep but shorter. Our total miles for this hike were 11.31. I would not recommend this for anyone who is a beginner or has never hike Baldy before.

7 months ago

ugh man everyone is right. I was sore for literally five days after this and I do 10-20 miles a weekend. I was shocked. do not start this after 6am in the summer, you'll regret it. too hot.

hiking
7 months ago

The first half mile is a little steep, so is the mile after halfway up. If prepared for this, this trail is quite ok. It can be warm even on the top, quite exposed. try to start early. I used 2.5 L water in the way up, while going down by devils backbone.

hiking
8 months ago

As hard as the hype. Did with a group of 10 pretty experienced hikers, on a pretty hot day. Took us between 5-6hr to reach the summit. Many of us ran out to water (all of us carrying 3-4L per person). I ran out with 2hr to go to the top; thankfully others had extra.

We opted to take the devils back bone route down, and the water at the ski lodge was a savior. We would not have been able to make it down this route without at least twice the amount of water.

We left half of our cars at the manker camp ground so that it was easier getting back to where we started. Highly recommend that approach.

One other note: our GPS lied to us throughout, saying we had much less time left than we actually did. E.g it said we were half way through when we were definitely 1/3 of the way.

hiking
9 months ago

Im no stranger to Mt Baldy, ive hiked it up nearly two dozen times up to now. My usual approach is the baldy bowl trail that leads to the sierra ski hut. After having done the Baldy bowl dozens of times I decided to tackle the grueling Old Baldy trail from the Church/village. I knew what i was getting myself into, but i really wasn't prepared for the unrelenting gain up this mountain. There are virtually no spots where the trail flattens out until you start to approach The south flank of West Baldy. Baldy bowl trail usually only takes me 2hrs and 50mins with a 10 pound back, the old baldy trail took me 5hrs and 15 mins almost twice the time of the bowl trail. This is a great training hike for San Gorgonio or even some peaks in the Sierras or Mt Shasta. Make sure to take at the very least 3l of water during late spring and summer months. Id definitely would do it again.

9 months ago

Felt so accomplished to summit Baldy (San Antonio). Not only a beautiful hike, but you can always look st that mountain from sea level and think to yourself, I've climbed that beautiful mountain. Isn't that part of why we climb mountains? Beautiful once at the summit. Not as hard as it seems. I went when I could have been in a lot better shape.

10 months ago

I did again
and beautiful view

Monday, January 23, 2017

very nice

Friday, November 04, 2016

This was GREAT!!

We started early ... a bit after 6:30am on a Sat... easy to find ... notice the signs not to park in the church lot! ... just go up a bit and there will be some parking in the left ... though I was told it is prime real estate...

You need a pass which you can purchase at the ranger station right there ... since we didn't have one and they weren't open yet, they had no problem with us paying upon our return ($5 for the day or $30 for the yr).

It is a HARD hike up ... there is no "rest" so enjoy the slight inclines and few flats on the way up.

To start you will go through some homes, then take the trail that makes you go HARD right. There was only one other spot that I got off track ... but I followed the AllTrails gps and easily got back on track.

There was this one spot that I had images that I was going to fall off the mountain ... and other paths that are narrow (so be careful!). In all honesty we were short about 1/2 mi to the top ... to these circle of logs, where we rested and ate the rest of our breakfast.

It does get cold ... we went on a day that eventually was warm and we got goosebumps. So layer ... and bring water and snacks ... this is no "normal" 12+ mi hike.

Careful on the way down ... my hiking companion is a 7.5# dog that decided to trail RUN on the way down (she is mighty quick) ... so I followed... until SPLAT!! I got a little bruised up ... but will be going back soon.

We only saw 2 people on the way up ... more on the way down (less than 12) and only one other dog towards the "finish line." I enjoyed the solitude.

Went back a couple of weeks later and made it to the top! Ha! That last part is not so easy... but so rewarding when you get to the top. Amazing views.

hiking
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Good hike! A tough one to be sure. I've done san Gorgonio via Vivian creek and san Jacinto via Marion mountain, and this one, to me, was harder. My gps showed 13.6 miles, 5,820 feet in elevation gain, and took 7 1/2 hours to the summit and back. The trail is narrow in sections and a bit overgrown. Loose scree in the bottom half of the trail - easy to slip on the descent. Trekking poles a must. Went through a bit over 4 liters of water. Great views all the way! Bottom part of the trail is fairly exposed. The Mt Baldy visitor center parking lot was closed when I went (maybe because it was Columbus Day?). I parked a little way up the street on the side of the road. Anyhow, a good climb and great workout! The food at the Mt Baldy lodge is pretty good too!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Great training hike for the High Sierra.

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