Trip length: 10.61 miles
Trip time: Approx. 6 hours
In an attempt to spend more time outdoors, I'm taking on a somewhat ridiculous attempt to hike to the summits of as many peaks in Southern California as possible. There are so many mountains with accessible trails less than an hour from Downtown LA that it's almost a shame I only see them as the occasional piece of scenery when the skies are smog-free. If this plan was to have any traction, I decided I'd need to hit the ground running and take on the highest peak in Los Angeles County -- Mt. Baldy.
We drove out to the trailhead at 6am and arrived shortly after 7. Driving out, I thought my summit attempt was surely doomed as I neglected to purchase an Adventure Pass to park in the Angeles National Forest. Would the absence of a silly little $5 pass prevent me from enjoying a day out on the trails? Perhaps. Luckily, as we drove through Mt. Baldy village, a small shop with a giant "Adventure Passes sold here" sign caught my eye and it was open.
The ascent was a gradual 6-mile climb up the Devil's Backbone Trail, which took a little under three hours to complete. Along the way there were some nice vistas of the Cajon Pass and the High Desert.
The trail becomes totally exposed about a mile from the summit and the landscape takes on a lunar quality. Fortunately, temperatures were mild and the sun's rays weren't too fierce.
I had a quick snack on the summit, snapped more photos then began the painful and (sometimes) scary descent along the Baldy Bowl Trail. Without the aid of trekking poles to keep me from sliding down the face of the mountain, my toes were engaged in a 3-hour long battle against the tips of my shoes. Dusty and slightly dehydrated, the hike ended back at the Manker Flat parking area. Maybe it was a fluke, but I enjoyed spending half my Saturday out in the wilderness, passing the occasional group of outdoor enthusiasts.
Atop Mt. Baldy with a hazy view of the Los Angeles Basin behind me.