three ts trail hike

Hike the Three T’s Trail

In This Guide
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions & Video
  • How to Get to the Three T’s Trail
  • Three T’s Trail Maps
Distance16 miles (25.8 km)
Hike Time8 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Hard
Total Ascent (?)5,110 feet (1558m)
Highest Elevation8,883 feet (2708m)
Fees & PermitsParking Fee & Free Permit
Dog FriendlyLeashed
Park WebsiteMt Baldy Visitor's Center
Park Phone909-982-2829
Stay In Touch - - -

The Three T’s Trail hike is one of the more peaceful hikes in the Mt Baldy area. This loop hike starts at Icehouse Canyon, climbs to Icehouse Saddle, then hits Timber Mountain (elevation 8,303ft), Telegraph Peak (elevation 8,985ft), and Thunder Mountain (elevation 8,587ft), and then descends down to Baldy Notch, Manker Flats, and back to Icehouse Canyon. It’s a long hike, but a favorite for those avoiding crowds.

This is a long, tough hike. Don’t attempt it if you haven’t done long mountain hikes and if you don’t have a good level of fitness. Start very early to avoid the heat in summer. Likewise, if there’s snow and ice on the route, don’t attempt it unless you have winter hiking and mountaineering experience.

Getting to the Three T’s Trail

The hike starts and ends at the popular Icehouse Canyon Trailhead. Use this as the trailhead address: Ice House Canyon Rd, Mt Baldy, CA, 91759, USA.

You need a parking pass for the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead lot. I use the affordable National Parks Pass, which gets me in every park, monument, and national forest. You can also use a (Southern California only) Adventure Pass, or buy a $5 day permit from the visitor’s center.

Gear for the Three T’s Trail

This is a backcountry hike and you should prepare accordingly. It’s also a hike best left for times when there’s no snow or ice.

Telegraph Peak is a great place for a lunch or snack break. You can also eat at the restaurant at Baldy Notch on the way down.

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La Sportiva Spire

I try a lot of hiking boots and shoes, and there are some great options out there, but the La Sportiva Spire is the best combination of comfort, protection, low-weight, and durability. They are waterproof, and the high cuff keeps debris out without the need for a gaiter. Time tested over thousands of miles. Use them with a two-layer sock system to end blisters for good.
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Osprey Talon

On a medium or longer hike I recommend a pack like the Osprey Talon 33 (men) or Osprey Sirrus 36 (women) which is a little bit larger. These packs are on the upper end of the (35L) daypack range, but they only weigh a small fraction more than a pack with less capacity. Having the extra space gives you more flexibility and means you don’t have to jam things in there. I use the space for things like extra layers in the winter, extra water on desert hikes, and even a tent & sleeping bag on overnights.

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI.

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Three T’s Trail Maps

These directions are for a loop hike. It’s designed to let you take in the beauty of the Three Tee’s Trail and then you have a nice long descent back to your car. The descent includes a road with cars for a bit. If you want to avoid the more developed portions of the hike, simply hike to Telegraph Peak and return the way you came.

Click To View Map

Hike the Three T’s Trail Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

Fenix 6 Pro

I’m a big fan of GPS watches to follow my GPX track (which I also use as a sleep, wellness, and fitness tracker) and my current watch is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar (full review here). I load my GPX tracks onto the watch to make sure I’m in the right place, and if not, the onboard topo maps allow me to navigate on the fly. It’s pricey but it has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of functionality. If you want something similar without the maps and big price tag, check out the Garmin Instinct which is a great buy and does a lot of the same things.

Three T’s Trail 3d map
After climbing up to Icehouse Saddle, the Three Tee’s Trail follows the ridge line down to Baldy Notch. From there it’s all downhill.
three ts trail elevation
There’s a lot of climbing on this hike. The toughest climb is the one to Telegraph Peak (in the middle).

Three T’s Trail Hike Directions

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Video Directions

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Turn by Turn Directions

Icehouse Canyon Trailhead parking lot
The hike starts at the end of the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead parking lot. Don’t forget to display your parking pass on your dashboard.
Icehouse Canyon Trailhead bathrooms
The Icehouse Canyon Trailhead parking lot has bathrooms. Not the prettiest but they work.
trail sign
Look for this trail sign at the start of the trail. You’ll be hiking to Ice House Saddle.
permit box
Before you hike, you need to fill out a free permit. The permits are located in the small brown box between the hiking boards at the trailhead.
permit box
Filling out the permit is pretty simple, just follow instructions. If there are no forms left, grab a napkin or piece of paper from your car and do your best. You can also get more permits at the visitor’s center.
permit box
Drop the white copy of the permit in the side of the box, and keep the yellow copy on you until you’re done with the hike.
Icehouse Saddle trail
The Icehouse Saddle trail starts climbing along Icehouse Creek right away.
Icehouse Saddle trail
Avoid any small side trails to the right that head down to the creek.
cabins on Icehouse Saddle trail
There are some private cabins down here. Respect people’s property and stay on the trail.
ruins on Icehouse Saddle trail
Keep your eyes open for old ruins of cabins as well.
Chapman Trail junction
About 1 mile in you come to the Chapman Trail junction. Stay straight to Icehouse Saddle.
trail signs
The trail is well marked with signs.
border with the Cucamonga Wilderness
At just under 2 miles in, you reach the border with the Cucamonga Wilderness. Just keep going straight. You’ll notice the scenery starts to change around this point and feels more alpine.
switchbacks
The trail starts to climb on a series of switchbacks.
switchbacks
Avoid any small side trails and stay on the switchbacks. Easy to miss a turn when you’re working hard and your head is down.
mountain views
Don’t forget to turn around and take in the mountain views. Even on this first section, you’ve climbed quite a bit.
junction with the Chapman Trail
Eventually you’ll reach the junction with the Chapman Trail. Hike to the right towards Icehouse Saddle.
Icehouse Saddle
You made it to Icehouse Saddle! This is a big trail junction and a great place to refuel.
Three T's Trail
The Three T’s Trail is the hard left when you reach the saddle. All of the trails here are well marked.

If you want to do some other great hikes from Icehouse Saddle, check out my directions for Cucamonga Peak and Ontario Peak.

Three T's Trail
The Three T’s Trail quickly starts climbing again. You’ll (hopefully) notice less people after you start the Three T’s Trail.
Three T's Trail
Keep your eyes open on the Three T’s Trail…
deer on Three T's Trail
…you might see some wildlife. On this day I spotted a few groups of deer. On other days I’ve seen bighorn sheep.
trail to Timber Mountain
The spur to Timber Mountain is about 0.7 miles after Icehouse Saddle. Hike to the right up to Timber Mountain.
trail to Timber Mountain
Again, the trails are pretty well marked here.
trail to Timber Mountain
The trail to Timber Mountain is small but easy to follow.
cris hazzard at the Timber Mountain summit sign
Grab you summit selfie at the Timber Mountain summit sign.
Timber Mountain
There’s a little area a few feet to the east of the summit with great views. A good place for a snack.
Three T's Trail
Head back down to the Three T’s Trail and continue.
Three T's Trail
You’ll start to climb once again. Telegraph Peak is actually past this summit.
Three T's Trail views
The views start getting incredible here. As you cross some small mountain saddles, your views to the east will start opening up.
false summit
There are a lot of false summits as you climb toward Telegraph Peak.
Three T's Trail climb
There was one section on the climb in some manzanita where the trail dead ended on a cliff. If the trail dead ends or gets dangerous, turn around and head up, you probably missed a switchback. If it was a winter with a lot of precipitation,this part could be very overgrown and you’d probably benefit from long pants. I haven’t been on the trail in a couple of months but the latest from friends is that it’s been groomed and is much easier to follow now.
Three T's Trail
Head up the switchbacks on the Three T’s Trail.
views of San Gorgonio
Look back and to the right as you climb for views of San Gorgonio.
Three T's Trail
There’s another rocky section where it’s easy to loose the trail. Again, look up and back for the switchback.
Three T's Trail
The trail is less defined on this stretch, but still visible. Just keep your eyes open.
Three T's Trail
Almost there! The trees get thinner as you climb toward Telegraph Peak.
views of Mt Baldy
Soon you’ll start getting views of Mt Baldy in the distance.
spur to the Telegraph Peak summit
You reach the spur to Telegraph Peak. There’s no sigh for it, just a sign for the Three T’s Trail. Make the right to hike up the spur to the Telegraph Peak summit.
spur to the Telegraph Peak summit.
Here’s detail of the sign where you hike right on the spur to the Telegraph Peak summit.
spur to the Telegraph Peak summit
The spur to the Telegraph Peak summit is easy to follow.
Telegraph Peak
Here you are, Telegraph Peak. This summit is a great place for a break and snack.
Telegraph Peak views
Telegraph Peak has good prominence, so you’ll get great 360 views, including Mt Baldy.
Telegraph Peak summit register
You can also sign the Telegraph Peak summit register.
three t's trail
When you’re done at the summit, head back down to the trail and make the right.

If you want to avoid the more populated trails, you can simply turn around here and retrace your steps back to the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead. The rest of the hike directions here follow a loop route back to the hike start.

Three T's Trail descends
The Three T’s Trail descends down to the last saddle.
Three T's Trail to Thunder Mountain
Here’s the last little climb on the Three T’s Trail to Thunder Mountain. It’s not so bad.
end of Three T's Trail
You’ve reached the end of the Three T’s Trail! Make the right at the end of the trail. You’ll be in the Thunder Mountain ski area.
trail in the Thunder Mountain ski area
Continue straight on the trail in the Thunder Mountain ski area.
Thunder Mountain summit
Hike to the right at the fork to the Thunder Mountain summit.
Thunder Mountain summit
Here’s the Thunder Mountain summit. Check it out and head back to the last fork.
Thunder Mountain summit
Make the hard right back at the fork.
dirt road
Avoid the steep ski run to the left and keep hiking on the dirt road.
dirt road to Baldy Notch
The road is easy to follow. You’ll see Baldy Notch in the distance. Baldy Notch is where you’re going.
hike to Baldy Notch
There’s a split. The sign says you can go either way. To the right the road continues and is longer, to the right you go down a (not too steep) ski run which is shorter. Choose your poison and head to Baldy Notch.
Baldy Notch
You’re at Baldy Notch. Here you can ring the big bell, get a bite to eat, or just continue through. You’ve got options. If you do want to eat, it’s all downhill from here, so feel free to gorge yourself.
Baldy Notch
The trail to continue down the mountain is by the ski rental joint.
dirt road
Head down the dirt road. This is the start of about 6 miles of descending. Enjoy it, you’ve earned it.
ski lift
You can take ski lift up to the notch if you want to revisit.
dirt road from Baldy Notch
If you look down you’ll see the trail winding down below you. You’ll be following this all the way down.
right turn on dirt road
When you come to the first intersection, make the right to continue on the dirt road.
right turn on dirt road
After a while there’s a side road to the left that steeply heads down to the ski lift parking area. Stay right on the more gradually descending road.
dirt road
The road is easy to follow. Just keep going down. You’ll see the small Ski Hut Trail coming in from the right.
waterfall
Towards the bottom you’ll come to the falls.
road at Baldy
At the falls, the road becomes paved.
Manker Flats
And soon comes out to Manker Flats, where there are porta-potties.
Manker Flats
When you come to Mt Baldy Road, make the right.
Mt Baldy Road
The last stretch of the hike follows Mt Baldy Road down to the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead. The Manker Flats parking lot is usually pretty full, as it’s the main parking to hike Mt Baldy.
Mt Baldy Road
Keep an eye open for traffic as you walk down Mt Baldy Road. Stick to the side with the wide shoulder. When I did this walk, about a dozen people asked if I needed a ride, so if you want to skip hiking this section, you can probably hitch.
 Icehouse Canyon Trailhead
Eventually you’ll reach the junction with the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead. Make the left to end the hike
Icehouse Canyon Trailhead parking lot
Here you are, back at the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead parking lot. Hope you enjoyed the hike.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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