Considered the steepest trail up to Mount Baldy, Register Ridge is a tough one. You’ll hike straight up the spine of a ridge between the Ski Hut and Notch trails, climbing about 2600 feet in 1.5 miles. The views are incredible on Register Ridge, and it emerges onto the Devil’s Backbone Trail, where you’ve probably been before. In this guide, we’ll take Register Ridge up to the barren summit of Mount Harwood and then hike over to the Baldy Summit since we put all this work in on the climb.
If this is your first time hiking Mt Baldy, I recommend taking the
traditional beginner’s route through Baldy Notch. Where is the Register Ridge Trail?
This hike starts from the familiar Manker Flats / San Antonio Falls trailhead used for the other popular Mt Baldy hikes. You’ve probably been here before. Use this trailhead address:
Manker Flat, 901-993 Falls Rd, Mt Baldy, CA 91759 There’s plenty of parking at Maker Flat where the lanes are split. Or you can park on the shoulder right across from the trailhead.
Although signs at the parking area say you need an Adventure Pass, this seems to no longer be enforced, and you can park for free.
There’s a primitive toilet by the start of the hike. Gear For the Hike Trekking poles are essential on the steep slopes of Register Ridge. If there’s any snow or ice on the mountain, give Register Ridge a skip. I wouldn’t feel comfortable climbing it with micro-spikes and poles; I’d want something that is more of a mountaineering system because the trail is so steep. Otherwise, this is a standard backcountry hike to Mt Baldy. Bring plenty of water, snacks, and backcountry hiking gear. Register Ridge Trail Maps Here’s the ridge you’ll climb, as seen from the road down Baldy Notch. The ridge sits between the Ski Hut Trail and the road to the notch.
Register Ridge is not an official trail but it gets enough use that it’s well-defined and easy to follow. It’s a Class 1 experience, but very steep.
I would not return down Register Ridge. It’s so steep that descending, even with poles, involves some sliding. In this guide I’ll show you how to get up to Mt Harwood and then Baldy. From there you can descend on the Baldy Bowl or Devil’s Backbone trails to round out the loop back to the start. Explore Map on CalTopo View a Printable PDF Hike Map Download the Hike GPX File
Free Nav Tools:
GaiaGPS – AllTrails Guides to Help You Navigate Elevation Profile Even though you have to climb for the whole hike, the real effort comes on the Register Ridge section, where you climb about 2600 feet in 1.5 miles. Aside from 2-3 very short eases in gradient, Register Ridge just goes straight up. 3D Map Register Ridge climbs up the SE ridge between the Baldy Notch and Ski Hut Trail routes. We’ll start on the Baldy Bowl Trail, quickly hop off onto Register Ridge, and then intersect Devil’s Backbone at the top. This route continues up to Mount Harwood, and then over to Mount Baldy. Register Ridge Hike Directions Please, I need your help! I depend on your support to keep these guides free of annoying ads, promoted posts, and sponsorships. Every contribution, big or small, is my lifeline to keep this website going. Thank you! There are also free ways to help out here! Video Directions VIDEO
Have a question about the guide or want to see what other people are saying/asking?
View the Youtube comments for this video. Leave a comment and I will do my best to respond. Turn by Turn Directions Start at the paved trailhead for San Antonio Falls. If you’ve hiked Baldy before, you’ve probably been here. Continue through the gate on the paved road. As you hike up the paved section you can see Register Ridge in front of you. Make the sharp right at the switchback by San Antonio Falls. Hike up the dirt road toward the notch. Look for the turnoff to the Baldy Bowl Trail. Hike up toward the old trail register. You’ll pass the old trail register. Now this is the important turn. After passing the trail register, the trail bends right and you’ll come around a corner with views of Baldy Bowl. Once around the corner, look for this smaller trail heading up to the right. Sometimes there will be rocks blocking the start so that Baldy Bowl hikers don’t get confused. It’s about 120 feet past the trail register. If you’ve hiked 5-10 minutes past the register without seeing the trail, you’ve probably gone too far. Now the work begins. For the next 1.5 miles the trail will largely look like this. Tight and narrow zigzag switchbacks going straight up the ridge. Some places just go straight up. And while this isn’t an official trail, it’s well-worn and easy to follow. As you climb up the ridge you can spot the Sierra Club Ski Hut off to your left in the distance. And to the right, you’ll start to catch glimpses of Baldy Notch. Use the steep slopes as an excuse to take a break and check out the views behind you. Register Ridge isn’t tricky or technical. You’ll just follow these zigzag switchbacks uphill. Eventually Mt Baldy comes into view off to the left as we ascend above the elevation of the Ski Hut. Flat! About halfway up Register Ridge there’s a short section of relative flat. It’s maybe about 100 feet, but on this trail, you take what you can get. Just past the flat the trail goes through a rocky section. There’s a trail through the rocks and no harsh edges. It’s still a Class 1 trail, no bouldering or scrambling required. Keep your eyes open ahead. Here you can see the trail heads left and away from the edge. It’s always like this. There are no scary edges if you stay on the trail. Looking back you’ll get nice views of the high peaks to the east. One last little flat section before the final steep ascent to Devil’s Backbone. The last push is steep. When you reach the big boulder, go around it to the left. No scrambling needed. Toward the end of Register Ridge the big trees thin out and you hike through the manzanita. At about 2.5 miles you’ll reach Devil’s Backbone. Make the quick dogleg to the right and left to continue up the unofficial trail to Mount Harwood. The trail to Mount Harwood is fairly barren. Soon even the manzanita will disappear. Bear right (and up) at the split with the light use trail. No downhill until we reach the summit of Mount Harwood. Soon you’ll see the rocky outcrop of the summit. And here you are at Mount Harwood. It’s an underrated (and luckily) under-visited summit. Enjoy the peace and views.
Mount Harwood is named after
Aurelia Harwood, an early conservationist and the first female president of the Sierra Club. From Harwood we’ll be heading west to the saddle, and then back up the final push to Baldy. Hike past the remote weather station. This section is a bit of a “choose your own adventure” with several small trails through the area. Just keep heading toward Baldy in the west. Once you clear the brush there’s one trail that winds down toward the saddle. Make a right when the use trail joins from the left. And then make a right onto the Devil’s Backbone Trail, which will look like a highway compared to the trail you just came off of. The final climb to Baldy is tough but not as tough as Register Ridge. Do the normal thing here and choose one of the many splits and switchbacks toward the top. Keep your eyes open for the post in the distance that marks the beginning of the summit area. Here you are at the post from the last photo. And then Mt Baldy summit! That’s the hike up Register Ridge. I’d recommend going back down on Devil’s Backbone or the Baldy Bowl Trail. Register Ridge is just too steep, even with poles. If you do try it, expect to go down about as slow as you went up.
Did something change on this hike? If so, please
contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide. Related Guides Popular Guides This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard Hi, I’m Cris Hazzard , aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn’t so you don’t waste money. I don’t do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn’t do it without folks like you!). Don’t Miss Out Monthly(ish) Email Newsletter – A list of new guides and important info for hikers. YouTube – Subscribe for new video notifications. The best way to get notified every time a new guide goes up. Instagram – I occasionally share pretty pictures from my hikes, broadcast live from the trail, and let you know about new guides.