San Gabriel Mountains Summit popular Mt. Baldy the old-fashioned way–earn it.
Climbing this SoCal classic from the backside is for peakbaggers who’d rather haul butt than use the Baldy ski lift to summit the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains. Steep, strenuous, and relentlessly uphill, the Old Mt. Baldy Trail was largely abandoned upon completion of the more moderate Devil’s Backbone Trail in 1936. Though little used, the Old Mt. Baldy route (also called the Bear Flats Trail) remains well marked and still claims the largest elevation gain (6,000 feet) of any hike in the range. The trail follows the peak’s southern ridge, passing through chaparral and pine forest to timberline, before topping out at 10,064 feet. On the way down, backtrack on the Old Mt. Baldy Trail for a quarter-mile or so, keeping an eye out for the Ski Hut Trail turnoff on the left. About 2.5 miles from the top, you’ll arrive at a Sierra Club ski hut (open most weekends year-round); you can camp nearby and refill at the spring. In the morning, descend via the Ski Hut Trail, which while steep for stretches is more forgiving and well-trod than your Old Mt. Baldy ascent.
Get There This end-to-end hike requires a car shuttle. The Old Mount Baldy trailhead is at the end of Bear Canyon Rd. The Ski Hut trailhead is at the end of the Baldy fire road; park a half-mile below the ski area.
Get Info Angeles National Forest, (626) 574-1613; www.fs.fed.us/r5/angeles