This hike hits all the highlights in the area including the falls, ski hut, summits, and the Devil's Backbone Trail. This hike is an undertaking for sure, not just because of its length, but the grade of the climbs are fairly intense.
This is a strenuous hike; make sure you're prepared for it.
From the parking area at Manker Flat, head north on Baldy Road #3N01
, a service road with an easy grade. At 0.5 miles, the road turns to head back south; at this northern point, hikers will have a nice view of the falls, but the adventurous can reach the bottom of the falls by following a rough trail further north. Do not try to climb the falls.
Return to the road and continue on; at almost one mile, there is a junction with Baldy Bowl Trail #7W02
which heads north. Take a left to follow Baldy Bowl Trail #7W02
as it ascends steeply along the edge of the San Antonio Canyon. The trail is steep but at least it is shaded by white fir, oaks and Jeffery pine trees. The right turn for the Sierra Club ski hut is two miles from the junction with Baldy Road #3N01
. There is a spring near the hut.
Return to Baldy Bowl Trail #7W02
and continue to climb up steep switchbacks to a shady ridge that overlooks the headwaters of the San Antonio Canyon. The trail continues to be quite rugged, but on a clear day the views from the summit of Mount San Antonio (aka Mt. Baldy), reached four miles into the hike, are fantastic. The Devil's Backbone, Mt. Harwood, the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountain ranges, and the Mojave Desert are all visible.
Hikers of course can return the way they came, but a somewhat easier (though longer) way down is to follow the Devil's Backbone Trail off the summit. The grade this direction is much gentler, especially as you get further from the peaks. At mile six, Turkey Shoot trail splits off to the right; continue on the Devil's Backbone Trail until you reach Mt. Baldy Notch and the junction with Baldy Road #3N01
at 7.1 miles. Head down the easy grade of the fire road enjoying the views as you descend back to the parking lot or take the ski lift from the notch.
Thanks to John McKinney, The Trailmaster, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about trails in California, check out his guides at The Trailmaster Store
White fir, Jeffery pine, sugar pine, lodgepole pine and limber pines are in the area. Watch for bighorn sheep.
Mount San Antonio was named in 1790 after Saint Anthony, a 13th-century friar from Italy. In the 1870s, it was nicknamed "Old Baldy" because of its impressively bare summit.