mt baldy hike

Mt Baldy Hike

The Mt Baldy hike brings you to the highest point in LA at 10,064 feet. With about 4000 feet of climbing, it's a tough yet popular hike, and well worth the effort. You can see from the Pacific to the Mojave on a clear day.

5 / 5
11 miles (17.7 km)
7 hours
3830 ft (1167 m)
Trail Condition:
Marked and unmarked trails
Crowds, climbing, alpine conditions
Known For:
Climbing, views
Best Time:
Early Morning
Hike Weather:

Mt Baldy Hike Trail Maps

Google Maps trailhead:
Manker Campground, Mt Baldy, CA, 91759, USA

Hike Location

mt baldy hike location
The trailhead is at Manker Campground, about 1:15 hours east of downtown LA. You'll go through Mt Baldy village on your way to the hike. It's a good place to grab lunch after hiking.

3D Hike Map

mt baldy hike 3d map
One of the coolest aspects of this hike is your ascent along the ridge line of Devil's Backbone. The route to the Mt Baldy summit is very exposed. Don't try it in bad weather. The Ski Hut Trail descent is a little more sheltered and cooler on a hot day.

Hike Elevation Profile

mt baldy hike elevation
You can see the route up the Devil's Backbone Trail is not as steep as the Ski Hut Trail, which you descend. Hiking poles come in handy on the steep descent.

Interactive Hike Map

Mt Baldy Hike Map Downloads

Download a GPX file to use on your GPS device. GPS devices are great to plan and follow routes, and there are tons of free electronic hiking maps that you can use. But don't rely solely on electronic navigation, always have a paper backup. Print out the PDF below, get a topo map, and/or print these directions.

View a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Mt Baldy Hike Directions

mt baldy hike

Do you have the right gear for this hike? Check out all the gear and clothing that I personally use and recommend. I've tested it all and cut the junk out so you don't waste your money.

What to Expect

Turn by Turn Directions

mt baldy hike parking
There’s a large parking area immediately past the Manker Campground. Park here for the Mt Baldy hike trailhead.
mt baldy hike bathrooms
The trailhead is on the north side of the lot. There are bathrooms here (and at Mt Baldy notch).
mt baldy hike trail
Go past the bathrooms and onto the paved road.
mt baldy hike maps
There are basic paper maps at the gate, courtesy of a local business.
 San Antonio Falls
At the first switchback, you can see San Antonio Falls to the left.
mt baldy hike climbs dirt road
The pavement ends and you gently climb up a dirt road.
mt baldy hike trail
At about 0.8 miles, stay right on the dirt road. You’ll be coming back on the trail to the left (which goes to the Sierra Club ski hut).
mt baldy hike views
As you climb toward Mt Baldy Notch, turn around to see the awesome views.
ski lift to Mt Baldy Notch
At about 2.4 miles, you’ll see the ski lift to Mt Baldy Notch.
mt baldy hike trail intersection
At about 3.1 miles, you come to a trail intersection. Take the shortcut to the left.
mt baldy hike trail
This short section of trail brings you to Mt Baldy Notch.
Mt Baldy Notch
At about 3.4 miles, you reach Mt Baldy Notch, which is the ski area where the chair lift ends.
cris hazzard at Top of the Notch restaurant
Mt Baldy Notch is a great place for a break. There are bathrooms here, and you can get food at the Top of the Notch restaurant. I fueled up with an energy bar for the next tough section.
mt baldy hike trail
There are lots of trails (ski runs) from Mt Baldy Notch. Take the main trail directly across from the trail you came into the area on.
mt baldy hike trail goes left
Shortly after going up the hill, there’s an intersection, hike to the left.
mt baldy hike trail goes up
Now there’s a short but tough climb (up the ski slope). Keep hiking straight up, avoiding the trails heading down to the left.
views of the Cajon Pass
This section of the hike is steep. Take breaks, turn around, and soak in the views of the Cajon Pass.
mt baldy hike climbs
No rest here! The trail keeps going up. Hike to the right as the trail climbs.
Devil’s Backbone trail starts
At the end of the ski slope, hike to the right as the Devil’s Backbone trail starts. You can see Mt Baldy in the distance.
Devil’s Backbone Trail
Here is the famed Devil’s Backbone Trail. As you hike along the the saddle of the mountain, the mountain drops hundreds of feet down on either side. Be careful here, this is where the hike gets real.
mt baldy hike views
Take your time and enjoy the Devil’s Backbone trail, there are great photo opportunities and views.
Mt Harding trail
At about 5.4 miles, a side trail to Mt Harding splits off to the right. Give it a pass and continue hiking to the left.
Mt Baldy
The trail widens and Mt Baldy looms in front of you.
mt baldy hike trail
This is the last tough stretch of the Mt Baldy hike. Start climbing toward the summit at around 6 miles.
mt baldy hike trail splits
As you hike this steep section of trail, it splits apart into many smaller trails. They all lead to the top and rejoin each other at regular intervals.
mt baldy hike views
Take breaks on this steep trail to turn around and soak in the great views of the Devil’s Backbone trail.
Mt Baldy summit
You made it to the Mt Baldy summit!
wind shelters on mt baldy
Stone wind shelters are at the summit of Mt Baldy. Pick a nice spot, soak in the views, and refuel for the trip down.
cris hazzard with Mt Baldy summit sign
Pose for a picture with the Mt Baldy summit sign.
mt baldy hike views
The views from Mt Baldy are incredible. On a clear day, you can see west to the Pacific and east into the Mojave Desert.
trails from mt baldy summit
Time to hike back down. This part is a little tricky. The Ski Hut Trail is between the Devil’s Backbone Trail and the trail to the next peak over, which leads to Mt Baldy Village. A post marks the trail to the Ski Hut.
new mt baldy signs
UPDATE: Evidently there are new signs on the summit that point you in the right direction when you head back. The trails up here can be confusing, so this is a welcome addition. However signs don’t have a good track record on Mt Baldy, with many being stolen over the years. Just a heads up.
mt baldy hike trail
After you start hiking the trail, it’s becomes well defined.
mt baldy hike trail stays left
This part of the hike is a little tricky. The trail starts to split apart. Generally, head to the left, avoiding any trails that head steely down into the ravine. When in doubt, look for other hikers coming up the trail. I wish the trail was better defined, but it’s not.
There are reports of signs pointing down toward the ravine. Ignore them and stay on the main ridge. The ravine is a dead end. If you see aircraft wreckage, you’ve gone too far. Turn around and go back up the hill.
mt baldy hike trail
After splitting apart for a while, the trail comes together and is well defined.
mt baldy hike vista
There are some nice vistas as you descend. This one is around 7.7 miles.
mt baldy hike trail splits
The trail descends steeply and splits apart. Again, stay hiking on the ridge to the left.
mt baldy hike trail
After that steep section, the trail becomes more clearly defined.
boulder field on mt baldy hike
At around 8.2 miles, you hike through a boulder field. Again, the trail can be hard to follow here. Stay toward the left and look for people coming the other way. You’re heading to a stream crossing.
stream on mt baldy hike
Soon after that, you’ll cross a stream before the Sierra Club Ski Hut.
 Sierra Club Ski Hut
After the stream, a side trail leads to the Sierra Club Ski Hut, which you can rent out.
mt baldy hike trail
Hike back to the ski hut trail intersection and keep heading down the trail.
mt baldy hike descends
This section of the hike is well defined and descends steadily. Avoid any side trails off to the right on a steep incline.
mt baldy hike dirt road
At around 10 miles, you’ll hike back to the dirt road that you hiked up on. Hike to the right to head back to the trailhead.
Devil’s Backbone Trail view
As you descend, look up to admire the saddle on the Devil’s Backbone Trail that you hiked across a few hours earlier.
cris hazzard on mt baldy hike
You did it! Pat yourself on the back, that was a tough hike!

If you are going to bag Mt Baldy, why not set Mt Whitney as your next goal? You won’t be disappointed, it’s awesome.

A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.