Mount San Antonio (Mt Baldy) 10068
West Baldy 9988
Mount Harwood 9552
Devils Backbone 9009
Start/End Loc: Mt Baldy Trailhead (a.k.a. San Antonio Falls Trailhead)
Distance/Elevation: 12.8 miles RT/5149 feet elevation gain
Distance/Elevation for route up to Mt Baldy only: ~4 miles one-way/~4000 feet elevation gain
This was the 3rd day of my 3-day trip to LA from Colorado. I was hoping to do all 3 of the LA area peaks with 5000 feet of prominence, promineering as I now call it. Today’s weather up high turned out to be ~50 degrees with continuous winds of 20 mph - not too bad but cool enough for an extra layer. No snow on the ground so the walking was easy.
In general there’s an excellent trail all the way to the summit as well as through all the other peaks that I did. The return just E of Devils Backbone, through the ski resort, and back to San Antonio Falls is a dirt road. The first ¾ mile from the TH to the Falls passes a few houses and is a gated, paved road. Also, the dirt road back from the resort is very forgiving: very smooth with very little grade.
The start of the hike is easy to find - simply put Mt Baldy Trailhead into Google Maps and follow the directions. Admittedly this is a little confusing as the official trailhead sign states San Antonio Falls Trailhead and many other people call it Manker Flats Trailhead. (Even this last is a little puzzling because the topo maps show a few places in this area as Manker Flat but there is actually a sign posted that I saw saying Manker Flats. Go figure.)
No wilderness permits are required. However, to park at this TH you do need a National Forest Adventure Pass ($5/day or $30 annual). I used my America The Beautiful Pass which is good for inter-agency fees such as this one.
As I drove near the TH a coyote rambled by my car, not frightened at all. I wish I had my camera handy. It was very healthy looking and had beautiful yellow eyes. I had never been this close to one and it was wonderful to look at.
The hike to Mount San Antonio (a.k.a. Mt Baldy) proved very popular, even for a weekday. There were already dozens of vehicles parked when I arrived around 8:30 or so. All day I would see many people. Also, the resort’s main lift was running so people would buy a one-way ticket and hike the other leg. The restaurant at the top of the lift was open - food, drink, and lift tickets could all be purchased there. You could buy a ride down if you wanted.
There’s nothing difficult about doing any of these peaks, you only need to contend with the elevation and mileage. Of course the direct route up is quite steep, but I’d much rather do the loop in this clockwise direction and not kill my quads on the way down.
For me the crux of the entire day was finding the damn road down from the ski resort! I even asked someone and I still messed up. Turns out it is literally at the NW corner of the restaurant. There’s a narrow slot that doesn’t look like it should be a road but, if you walk up to it and peer over the side, it is indeed the start of the downhill road.
Following are some photos and my GPX tracks.
Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, New Mexico.
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- Gary Neben
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