Summit Mt. Baldy
Los Angeles › Bear Flat Trail
Added by Brenda Lin
Earn amazing views of the San Gabriel Mountains high countryHead out early and plan appropriately if you do this hike in the summerDuration: Full day
Located only an hour’s drive from Los Angeles is the top of highest mountain in LA County—at 10,064 feet. Bear Flat Trail (also called the Old Mt. Baldy Trail) offers some of the finest scenery and most rewarding views in the San Gabriel Mountains high country. With nearly 6000 ft of elevation gain, this strenuous 13mile out-and-back hike is one of the less traveled trails to reach the summit of Mt. Baldy.
Bear Flat Trail is a great spring and fall hike, but also is quite nice in the winter if the trail is free from snow. Many people will hike this during the summer as well; however, the chaparral section and more exposed parts of the ridge route can be extremely warm. If you plan to go on a hot summer day, please plan appropriately and start early, while it's cool. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water, as there is none available on this route.
The first half mile is through a paved residential area—please be mindful and respect the locals. From here, Bear Flat becomes a single-track trail adorned with fern under a rich canopy of live oak, bay, and big cone Douglas-fir. Beyond Bear Flat, the trail begins to steeply climb the chaparral-covered southeast flank of Mt. Baldy's great south ridge. Once above 8000’ temperatures drop and cool breezes over the ridges are welcome after a fairly intense elevation climb. The trail soon crosses “The Narrows” saddle that follows a ridgeline. There will be loose rocks/gravel, but this section is quite manageable; nonetheless, please watch your footing along this portion—as a tumble could be very dangerous. You'll then enter an open conifer forest with wide-reaching views toward the expansive San Gabriel Mountains to the west. From here, it’s a gentle ascent to the summit. At the summit, enjoy the 360 degree view! Don’t forget to take a picture at the summit marker to document your achievement.
As you return the way you came, you get a whole different perspective of the breathtaking views and appreciation for your journey to the summit. Once back at the trailhead, head across the street to for some excellent burgers and beers. You have earned it! The Mt. Baldy Lodge.
How to get there:
From Los Angeles, take the 210 freeway east to Claremont. Take the Baseline Road exit and turn left (onto Baseline Rd). Continue on for one block, then turn right onto Padua Avenue. In 1.7 miles, turn right onto Mt. Baldy Road. Continue on for 7.1 miles, after which you will reach the Center of Mt. Baldy Village. The trailhead is located behind the Mt. Baldy Village Chapel on Bear Canyon Road. Parking is available directly in front of the Visitor Center on the street. There is also a small parking area up the road (0.15 mile). Out of respect for the local businesses and private property, please do not park in the parking places designated for Mt. Baldy Lodge or Chapel. A National Adventure Pass is required for parking which can be obtained at the Visitor Center for $5 per day.
- Sturdy hiking shoes/boots or trail runners
- Water (none available on this route)
- Clothes for layering
- National Adventure Pass for Parking ($5 at the visitor center)
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
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Check Instagram for recent photos
Super important to check and see the conditions on the mountain before hiking. If you are attempting this early or late in the year, there will be snow and crampons will be needed to ensure a safe experience. I found it helpful to check the recently tagged photos at the summit to see what it's like!
Bring water and stop at the ski lift at the top
The bald top of the mountain is so cool; it feels like you're on the moon! Summer weekends tend to get pretty busy along this hike. Be sure to bring lots of water in the summer. When we were here, Search and Rescue was out looking for someone who became delirious and wondered from the trail; they spent the night lost in the woods. However, the trail is worn and marked quite well, just bring water. Devil's Backbone is a really incredible ridge with sweeping views of the surrounding area. The ski lodge at the top is a cool place to grab a brew and take a rest from the elements. Oh, yah, wear a hat. They don't call it baldy for nothing. See more pictures and info from our experience at http://mrandmrsadventure.com/2014/07/08/hiking-mount-baldy-via-baldy-bowl-and-devils-backbone-trail/
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