Objective: Summit Mt. Baldy, San Gabriel Mountains, California
Distance: 9 miles (out and back)
Peak Elevation: 10,064′
Elevation Gain: 3,800′
The Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail is the shortest and therefore steepest climb to the summit of Mount “Baldy”. (Well, that’s if you don’t count the Devil’s Backbone Trail starting from the top of the ski lift.) The Sierra Club Ski Hut is about 60% of the way from the trailhead just before the Baldy Bowl. San Antonio is one of the three ultras in Southern California, along with San Gorgonio and San Jacinto. No one uses the name Mount San Antonio because the Baldy Bowl is a bare cirque on the southern face. This bald patch is visible from LA, which is almost everyone calls it by its nickname.
Directions to Trailhead
Head east on the 210, and exit Baseline Road in Claremont. Turn left on Baseline Road. Make a right on Padua Avenue and continue for 1.8 miles. Turn right onto Mt. Baldy Road and drive for 11.5 miles past Mt. Baldy Village. Make a left at Falls Road. Turn left again at Mt. Baldy Road and find parking on the side of the street above Manker Flat campground.
Directions to Summit
Start: Begin at Falls Road and head past the gate.
0.5 miles: At the waterfall lookout, the Baldy fire road begins.
1.0 mile: At the junction, turn left up the steep Ski Hut Trail (Baldy Bowl trail).
2.6 miles: After the Ski Hut, the trail reaches the ridge and ascends to the summit.
4.5 miles: You have reached Mt. Baldy. Turn around and head back.
This hike to Baldy’s peak is relatively short and rather steep. After half a mile, the path makes a big U-turn just after San Antonio Falls. Just under another half a mile on the fire road, you will reach the Ski Hut trail junction. The narrow trail forks left (is easy to miss) and climbs steeply straight up the side of San Antonio Canyon. The trail becomes surrounded by tall vegetation on both sides and reaches a spring. After crossing the spring, there is a spur trail to the Ski Hut near the base of the Baldy Bowl. When the Ski Hut is open, up to six people can spend the night for a fee. (Instructions for making a reservation when the Ski Hut is open, can be found here.)
From the Ski Hut, the trail is noticeably steeper and there’s 2,000’+ of elevation gain remaining in under two miles. The tall Jeffrey pines and incense cedars start to thin out and are replaced by smaller lodge pole pines. At this point, the trail becomes very rocky and then ascends the western edge of the Baldy Bowl. Once you gain the ridgeline, there is a mile-long final push to the top of the summit. The last time I was just below the summit when I leaped over a hidden juvenile rattlesnake by accident. For some reason, it wasn’t rattling, yet both the snake and I ended up fine.
Mount San Antonio is nicknamed “Baldy” because there are no trees on the gray, round dome of the mountain. At the summit, there are some windbreaks next to the famous metal summit plaque. From here, you can enjoy views of the other high peaks of the back range of the San Gabriel Mountains.
An Adventure Pass is required for each vehicle parked along the roadside.