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.
In this Guide:
Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for Register Ridge to Mount Hardwood & Baldy
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.
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.
As a hiking guide, I test lots of hiking gear. On my picks page, I'll show you all of the gear that I actually use. I don't accept paid promotions or talk about the stuff that doesn't make the cut. It's just the gear that works best, so you don't have to waste your money.
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.
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!).