It has been almost 9 months since we completed Mount San Antonio. Sadly I did not create a trip report at the time, so details are a bit muddied but I still feel it is important to flush out any remaining memories. Going through all my pictures brings back some good thoughts and some things learned about this hike (e.g., take the fire road to Baldy’s Notch and not the makeshift trail below the ski lift.)
We parked at the Manker Flats and had no issue finding parking or leaving the car overnight. While I worry about theft, the area seemed pretty safe and just a bit before the tourists parking lot for the ski lift. We displayed our adventure pass and found available porta johns as this is about an hour drive from Los Angeles.
Ascent and Mistakes
In doing my research the week prior I knew that I wanted to ascend up to Baldy’s Notch, across Devil’s Backbone, and then finally summit. What I didn’t do was read the reviews/maps closely enough prior to arrival. The mistake came into play as we walked up the base of the ski lift instead of getting on the fire road as if you were headed to the ski hut trail. Once we hit the base of the ski lift we saw one other person and a make shift trail going straight up the bowl to Baldy’s Notch. We hiked it. With all of our gear. Not only was it steep but it was a lot of loose rock and gravel. It was hell. We each had roughly 20-30lbs of gear, we had the onlookers of the chair lift riders above us, and a never ending walk up this bowl. I would say we burned majority of our energy in the first mile of hiking.
I still haven’t lived that one down.
Start time was approximately 10AM, arrival at the Notch was sometime around noon where we took a fifteen minute break. It is about 5 miles to the summit from the Notch along Devil’s Backbone. The sheer popularity of this mountain and the availability of a chair lift to take you a good portion of the way, this is not the best hike if you are looking to escape the tourists for a day or two. The views along the backbone though are worth it and the terrain is incredible, definitely a must for hiking in the Angeles National Forest.
Hitting the peak was a great feeling, first time for either of us to hike above 10,000ft. We arrived at approximately 3PM, so our entire ascent time was about 5 hours including the mistaken opening trail. We setup camp at the top and took a several hour nap, when we woke it was approximately 5PM and the sun was setting. It appeared we were going to be the only ones on the summit overnight. Majority of the people we saw throughout the day carried water and a jacket. We were fully packed with food, water, tent, overnight clothes, first aid kit, etc.
To our surprise little by little a www.meetup.com group started hitting the summit and setting up tents. There was about 30 or so and the last arrived as late as 9PM in the pitch black. Most all were seasoned hikers and took the Ski Hut trail to the top (much shorter in length). Temperatures on the summit (late September) we about 40-45*F at night and in the 70s under the sun.
We followed the ski hut trail out, and descended in a little over 2 hours. Along the way we were alerted by hikers to a rattler sleeping along the trail, easy to spot and step around – a reminder though to always remain aware of snakes. The trail was loosely populated with everyone we passed planning a day hike to the summit.
Overall we traversed somewhere between 11-12 miles, with about 9 miles being completed on the first day. Elevation gain was about 4000ft. Great hike, would prefer a less crowded trip. Next planned hike is to summit Cucamonga Peak sometime this summer.