Mount San Antonio (Mount Baldy) – Angeles National Forest, CA

 

Descending Baldy Bowl Trail looking east at the Three T's
Descending Baldy Bowl Trail looking east at the Three T’s

When I confirmed I was going to LA for the weekend, my #1 goal was to hike one of big mountains in the area. Anything close to 10,000 feet, an elevation I’ve never achieved before. Since I was staying in Arcadia, it was only logical that I would look for something in the San Gabriel Mountains and not drive farther east towards the San Bernandinos and San Jacintos. After contemplating Mt. Baden-Powell, Cucamonga Peak, and the Three T’s, I concluded why not go for the tallest peak – Mount San Antonio (nicknamed Mount Baldy). Mount San Antonio at 10,064 feet is the tallest mountain in Los Angeles County and frequently hiked by locals. It even has snow all winter complete with ski runs. I got a little taste of these mountains the day before hiking San Gabriel Peak and I was worried about how much water I needed with the elevation and sun exposure. Also I only brought running shoes, gym shorts, long-sleeve wool shirt, Duke hat, and my Kelty day pack leaving my trekking poles at home. I decided against taking the steep Baldy Bowl Trail to the summit and instead use the forest road from Manker Flats to Baldy Notch, then the Devil’s Backbone Trail to the summit. When I arrived at the mountain I got a later start than I desired, so I skipped the 3-mile forest road and paid $12 to take the ski lift one-way to Baldy Notch. I hiked Devil’s Backbone to the summit, then descended on the Baldy Bowl Trail to Manker Flats and walked uphill on Mount Baldy Rd back to the ski lift parking. Mount Baldy is one of those mountains you have to do if you’re in the LA area.

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San Gabriel Peak – Angeles National Forest, CA

As part of my typical cycle in July and August every year, I’ve hiked a lot less on the weekends due to more soccer, school resuming (which means more weekend activities), and college football and the Premier League starting again. With this lull I’ll try to post some of my hikes in the past few years on trips to Southern California and Idaho. Maybe I’ll even get to Washington where I hiked a lot in the Summer of 2010. Although these hikes won’t contain a ton of detail they will have plenty of great photos. If you’re interested in hikes in Southern California, or just want a change of pace from east coast hikes, check out these two blogs I follow constantly despite my 3,000+ mile difference. They’re fantastic and were both recently voted in the top 10 hiking blogs in the country by USA Today.

Modern Hiker

SoCal Hiker

 

 

Amazing view south of Mt. Markham from summit trail
Amazing view south of Mt. Markham from summit trail

I had no plan for this hike. I was spending 5 days in Southern California for my friend Stephen’s wedding and came two days early to explore. Although I had been up for almost 8 hours, I arrived in LAX around 11:15 AM and got a rental car and made it to my hotel in Arcadia by 12:30 PM. I had plenty of daylight left and the San Gabriel Mountains rose 5000 feet above my hotel window, it was too enticing. Quickly I grabbed lunch, and then some Gatorades and snacks for an afternoon hike. I did not want to do anything too fancy or difficult – I had no map nor intimate knowledge of the area and would be relying on my memory of hikes from a website. Modern Hiker is an excellent directory of hikes all around the Los Angeles region so I did some prior research to my trip. In the hotel I did a 30 minute crash course on Arcadia region. The nearby canyons I nixed, most of the water looked seasonal and if they had waterfalls they looked very crowded. I decided to drive to U.S. 2 and head towards the interior. My plan was a hike to San Gabriel Peak in the Mount Wilson area. If I couldn’t find the trail I’d either drive to Mt. Wilson or just cruise along U.S. 2 a while taking in the views. I ended up finding the trail after a bit of confusion and thoroughly enjoyed my first hike in SoCal, the views were outstanding.

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