Bald & Beautiful

It’s a classic peak, topping out at 10,064 feet—the highest point in the San Gabriel Mountains. It’s a…

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It’s a classic peak, topping out at 10,064 feet—the highest point in the San Gabriel Mountains. It’s a challenge to reach: butts will burn, thighs may scream, and you’re likely to thirst for that post-hike beer en route. You gotta do it! The hike up Mount San Antonio—better known as Baldy—is a rite of passage for SoCal hikers. Get reaaaaady! The Baldy Bowl Trail is a 9-mile round-tripper with an elevation gain of 3,900 feet. Setting out from Manker Flats in the Angeles National Forest, you will first hike up Falls Road past pleasant San Antonio Falls before turning up Baldy Bowl Trail (also known as Ski Hut Trail because it passes a Sierra Club cabin). The single-track is a moderate climb through pines with forest aromas that’ll have you taking deep breaths and declaring, “Now this is the outdoors!” Pause at the green cabin, with a perched view down San Antonio Canyon before pressing on for a steep climb through thinning trees. Views expand as you ascend a ridge to the big bald summit and its epic 360-degree panorama. The high peaks of the San Bernardino Mountains rise to the east, across Cajon Pass. Mount Wilson and the rest of the San Gabriels lord to the west, dividing the Mojave Desert to the northeast from the San Gabriel Valley to the south. Baldy is beautiful!

Take I-210 toward Claremont to the Baseline Rd. exit. 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 Mount Baldy Village, where a $5 National Forest Adventure Pass can be purchased from the Mount Baldy Visitor Center. Proceed another 4.4 miles up Mount Baldy Rd. Pass Manker Flats Campground and find roadside parking on the left near the Falls Rd. intersection. Display your Adventure Pass and begin hiking up Falls Rd. Pass San Antonio Falls at 0.6 mile and proceed another 0.3 mile to Baldy Bowl Trail, a dirt single-track breaking off to the left just after a left bend in the road (don’t walk past it). Reach the Sierra Club Ski Hut at 2.6 miles and push on for the summit. Return the same way, or extend the hike by venturing west from Mount Baldy across Devil’s Backbone Trail to Baldy Notch, where you can hike or take a ski lift down to Mount Baldy Rd. Dog-friendly!

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