Mt. Baldy via Ski Hut Trail (10064 ft, W6 CT-003), 26 September 2014

After many years here in LA, I finally hiked Mt Baldy. A more formal name for Mt Baldy is Mt San Antonio, named after San Antonio de Padua.

In the 80s I hiked a lot in the Sierra Nevada, but never in the “local” San Gabriel Mountains. I should have hiked here too but never did. Well, now that I am retired I am making up for it!

As is my usual way now, I got up early and started the hike at 0445, about 2 hours before sunrise! I had parked at Manker flats, and set off by headlamp up the jeep road to San Antonio Falls. After about half an hour I came to the un-signed turnoff to the ski hut trail. There is a post that must have held a sign, and a Spanish Bayonet plant. I guess every time a sign is put there it is vandalized because I have seen photos of signs being there in the past. Up and then a switchback and you come to a metal tray and register, so I knew for sure I was on the right path. Tim K6TW had told me about the register.  A nice walk in the dark and turned off the headlamp at 0600. Arrived at the Sierra Club ski hut.


The trail is pretty good up to this point but now gets rocky as you go across the bowl (=cirque in French = cwm in Welsh)

Then steeply up through the trees

At the crest of the ridge, I met the strong wind wind that had been forecast. The trail now becomes “trails” as there are many use trails which proceed upwards, leading along the west side of the ridge. The ridge across the way further right (west) in the picture has the trail that leads from Mt Baldy Village, which requires 6000 ft of elevation gain to the summit.

Just keep going up and up and up…

Almost at the summit, I met a hiker coming down. And then the summit, after almost 4 hours of hiking!

Beautiful day, but cold in the mid 40s F and very windy

This scrub pine provided a windbreak to set up the 2 meter slim jim j-pole

Several hikers passed by coming up, then quickly passed by again heading down after they had quickly tagged the summit. Called Charles KM6CEM on the HT, he came right back and kindly spotted me on 2 meters. A great location for VHF, being up so high. Made 17 VHF QSOs, a 2m SOTA record for me. Including Ken KN6CCW and Bob KB6CIO, both operating on Onyx Peak W6 CT-044. Roy KR6RG was two miles north of the US-Mexico border, a distance of 123 miles, almost 200 km.


Also a 2m QSO with Chris K6CMG after I had left the summit

Operated for almost 45 minutes and was getting cold. I went back to the summit and said hi to 4 young endurance runners who were sheltering behind one of the rock windbreaks. I went down the north slope a little to see if I could find another operating place out of the wind, but I could not. I decided not to set up for HF because I did not want to spend another hour immobile and getting colder. The bright sun wanted to warm things up, but the air temperature and strong wind wanted to keep things cold. Asked Charles to add a spot that I was cold and not setting up for HF.

Started down to the east towards Mt Harwood and the Devils’s Backbone trail. The path traverses to the right on Mt Harwood

Endurance runners catching up

This route is very scenic

The backbone has begun. Very exposed in places


Enter the Dragon!

Mt Baldy Notch below. You can take a chair lift up to the notch from just above Manker Flats.

From the notch, a gravel road leads back to Manker. I took this and made good time

Back at the start of the ski hut trail, less than an hour from the Notch

San Antonio Falls. More spectacular in the Spring when there is more water. I’m glad I started in the dark so I couldn’t see how far away the ridge is!

And back down. Stats: 1h 50m to the ski hut, 3h 45 m total to the summit from Manker Flats. 4.3 miles, 3900 feet elevation gain. Then 1h 30m from the summit to Baldy Notch, and 1h 10m to Manker. 7 miles, of which 3.2 is from summit to Notch. Took 5 pints of water and drank 2, with a coke back at the car.


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