Sometimes it’s good to get back, way back, into the wild; it’s even better if you don’t have to travel far to do it. The San Gabriels seem to surprise every time with their authentic ruggedness and remote feel—despite the proximity to the sprawling city. See this impressive mountain range on an 8-mile (round-trip) trek to 5,766-foot Sunset Peak. With huge vistas almost the entire way, a highlight is the nearly constant views of iconic Mount Baldy—the highest point in the range, clocking in at an impressive 10,069 feet. Starting on a saddle in the ridgeline west of the summit, you’ll work your way up the mountain through Jeffrey pines on a well-maintained, dirt, forest service road that gradually climbs 1,400 feet to the peak. The trail is isolated from other mountains, letting hikers peer down to valleys, including giant San Antonio Canyon—running from Mount Baldy to the cities in the Pomona Valley. The depth of the canyons and the lack of foothills make hulking peaks like Mount Baldy seem even larger, the range even more expansive. As the climb goes higher, be mindful of the grip in your step. There may be a few patches of ice and snow along the trail, especially if there’s been recent precipitation. Sunset Peak is an ample round summit whiskered in brush cover with a scattering of boulders. And of course, round-the-compass views are likely to knock your hiking boots off: the Three T’s (Timber Peak, Thunder Peak, and Telegraph Peak) tower in the east, as the canyons below add depth and drama. Even the observatory atop Mount Wilson is visible—far across the western range. The sightseeing from up here is simply lights out!
FIREPLACE BONUS: The large moose head on the wall may be the only evidence you need that Mount Baldy Lodge (6777 Mount Baldy Road) is the real deal. Axe-carved wood beams frame log cabin walls for an authentic mountain lodge experience. Pair Tyler’s Tasty Chicken Sandwich with a Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA, and sit in front of the grand stone fireplace with a mantle decorated by antique cross-country skies. You’ve been warmed!
Take the 210 Freeway to Claremont to exit 52 for Base Line Rd. At the end of the ramp, turn left and make an immediate right on Padua Ave. Drive 1.8 miles north to Mount Baldy Rd. Turn right and drive 7 miles into the mountains to an intersection with Glendora Rd. in Mount Baldy Village. Get a National Forest Adventure Pass at the Mount Baldy Visitor Center. Head west on Glendora Rd., and drive 4.1 miles to a large dirt pullout on the left. Park here and find forest road 2N07 through the white gate on the east side of the pullout. Start hiking up the winding road, reaching a large clearing at 2.25 miles. Stay to the right, avoiding a side trail dropping down the mountain. When the road reaches a junction at a saddle south of the summit, bear left, and take the less-maintained trail another half mile to the top. Trail is dog-friendly, Mount Baldy Lodge is not.