Hike Mt Baldy

April 23, 2011 Olin Patterson 4 responses

Tim Cully on the Mt. Baldy summit.

Above the tree line – felt like the moon.

Devil’s Backbone.

A quick video I took to show the view from the Summit.

I decided to make an attempt to hike the 10,064 ft summit of Mt. Baldy (formally known as Mount San Antonio) at about 9 pm the previous evening. I made a phone call to my good friend Tim Cully to send out an invite and by 11 pm, I had a confirmed party of 2, my bag packed and a 5am wake up call all set for the Mt Baldy ascension.

It rained on the way to the trail head the following morning. Fortunately, at an elevation of about 5000 feet on the mountain road, we burst through the clouds into a gorgeous Spring day. It was as though this perfect day was awaiting us all along and my worries and anticipations lost themselves in that bed of clouds behind us. I knew nothing would deter us in our quest for the summit.

We started our hike from the Monker Flats campground. There, we took an old road up to the lodge of a now seasonally deserted Mt. Baldy Ski Resort before finally reaching the trail at Devil’s Backbone. By this point we were about 8500 feet high and the remaining Spring snow was becoming more and more of a concern as we hiked along ridge lines – one slip would surely be fatal. At one point the ice build up was too much of a risk and we had to find our own way along the backbone to avoid the northern facing ice that perched mercilessly over 1000 foot canyons.

By early afternoon, and a huge ice detour later, we were scrambling up the moon-scape dome of Mt Baldy and making our final steps to the 10,064 foot summit. From on top of the Mountain you can see the entire range of the San Gabriels, San Jacinto (elevation 10,834 ft) and San Gregonio (elevation 11,505 ft) – which both along with Mt Baldy make up the three highest peaks in Southern California.

We made a make shift day camp in one of the several man made rock barricades that exist on the summit to protect ourselves from the relentless wind and enjoyed a lunch of cheese, crackers and beef jerky… before heading back down the mountain.

In all, the 13 mile hike took us about 7 hours to complete with an elevation gain of 4300 ft to a summit of 10,064. It was an incredible experience and one I would recommend to anyone who has some time to enjoy this grand structure so close to home. While up on the summit, Tim and myself decided to make an attempt to climb Mount San Jacinto and Mount San Gregonio in the coming months as well.

For great information on the hike check out the Mt Baldy local hikes page and Dan’s Hiking Page for Mt Baldy for some great resources on the hike! And be sure to pick up a $5 Adventure Pass to park your car.

the base of San Antonio Falls.


  1. Nice one Olin!

    I have been wanting to hike that area for winter time skiing for some time but my lazy butt will not let me. Same goes for San G too.

  2. Christina April 27, 2011

    So there’s not too much snow on Baldy still to make it impossible to climb? I’m trying to head up there Saturday (April 30) but I’m worried about the snow

  3. Hi Christina. The snow was never and issue except for one tiny part (
    literally just a ten foot section on devils backbone – which was easily navigable by climbing around) definitely go for it.. have a great hike!

  4. That sounds amazing. I saw tracks down baldy from what looked to be skis… id be so into that.

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