I’ve wanted to hike Mount San Antonio (aka Mount Baldy) for several months. It can be a challenging to find the right day to hike because it’s tough on windy days and covered with snow, usually from October-June. It’s crazy to imagine snow in LA in June, but I promise at 10,064 feet, it’s usually there.
Mount San Antonio is a famous training peak for Mount Whitney as well. It’s definitely the busiest peak I’ve done so far (despite being one of the hardest).
About Mount San Antonio:
Distance: 10.2 miles
Elevation gain: 3,900 feet
You need a park adventure pass to climb Mount San Antonio (and display it in your window). You can find more information about that here.
Mount San Antonio Trailhead: 901-993 Falls Rd, Mt Baldy, CA 91759
My Experience Hiking San Antonio:
Shoes: Hoka Zinal
Nutrition: Untapped Ginger Mapleaid Liquid + 3 liters of water
I knew Mount San Antonio would be challenging, but I was unsure…how difficult. First of any hike I’ve ever done, you need a good pair of shoes to hike Mount San Antonio.
I mean either trail running shoes or hiking boots. Regular tennis shoes won’t cut it.
The loose rock and sand make footing extremely hard, and you have steep drop-offs that one bad slide will land 1000 feet down. So don’t come without shoes and a lot of water. Mount San Antonio is called Mount Baldy for a reason. The peak is bald! Lack of trees which means a lack of shade! Stay hydrated, and I brought 3 liters of water and probably could have used a fourth.
We got to the Mount Baldy trailhead around 7:15 and it was already packed. Had I known, I probably would have arrived another hour earlier. Of any SoCal peak we’ve done, the Mount San Antonio peak has been the busiest. Cucamonga peak is right down the road and it looked just as crowded.
When we arrived at the peak, there were 30 people at the top. Usually, there are 5 people if that. Luckily there is plenty of room, but I would get there early. We were “by ourselves” in several sections, but other people seemed to be in view. Mount San Antonio peak is one of the most famous in Los Angeles and LA, so you’re never really “alone.”
The Mount San Antonio loop can be made clockwise or counterclockwise. I’m not sure which is more challenging. We took it counterclockwise, which meant dropping 4000 feet in 4 miles. It was steep and on loose rock. I fell many times. Three days later and I’m still sore.
As we headed up Mount San Antonio loop counterclockwise, we saw how gradual the incline was. The first 3 miles of Mount San Antonio loop gain between 400-500 feet per mile. There is a mixture of the paved road the first mile, and you get to the trail after that. It seems like a lot, and it is, but the course only gets steeper. You reach the Sierra Club Ski Hut around mile 3.2. You can usually take a chairlift to the Sierra Club Ski Hut and climb the next steep 3 miles to Mount San Antonio.
Make sure to check the conditions because, after that, the trail can get treacherous. If you go in the summer, you should be ok, but you never know. The following 3 miles are steep and with loose rock. There have been deaths. Miles 4-6 climb 750-850 feet per mile. I needed a few walk breaks and some points of the Baldy Bowl. I just wanted to be at the top of the Mount San Antonio loop. It was busy, and we waited a few times to pass people or for us to give them. The last mile to reach Mount Baldy is steep, with several narrow paths, and when it’s crowded it takes coordination to let people pass.
But during the last mile to reach Mount Baldy, you are rewarded with views the entire time. Finally, after some grueling climbs, you’ll reach the top. When we went, it wasn’t windy, but you’ll notice several Adhoc shelters protecting people from the wind. This is why it’s imperative to look at the weather. It can be windy and icy at the Mount San Antonio peak, even when LA is 80 and sunny. We stayed for a bit and continued the loop downhill.
We headed down the Devil’s Backbone, which I’m not sure if I would prefer going up or down. It’s once again loose rock, and you drop about 1000 feet per mile. The loose rock makes footing impossible, and I fell no less than 8-10 times. Luckily I caught myself, and it’s a little less open than the Baldy Bowl.
As we continued down, there were many more wildflowers along this stretch. You’ll even see Mount San Antonio falls, which provide water to the wildflowers. After a few miles of 1000+ feet of descent, we made it back to the main trail and headed the mile back down.
It took us about 5 hours to complete the Mount San Antonio loop, and it’s one of the more challenging peaks we’ve climbed yet. It’s one of the better views in Los Angeles, and I highly recommend it if you get a chance. Just because it’s close to LA, doesn’t mean Mount Baldy is “easy” and I would definitely prepare and take your time as needed.
You can see more hikes and trail runs here.
Questions for you:
Have you climbed Mount San Antonio?
What is your favorite peak?