Ascending to the snow: SoCal’s lone white peak

By Anneli Fogt

Snow in Southern California. For many locals, this phrase is something of a joke.

Don’t get me wrong, snow does fall, however, it usually can’t stick for more than a few days before the 80-plus degree weather comes and melts it all away. The snowboarding and skiing is short-lived with icy and slushy snow far from any beautiful, fresh powder snowbirds dream of.

Regardless of this lack of legitimate snow, one local peak can actually be white-capped well into June.

Mount San Antonio, more popularly known as Mount Baldy, is a 10,068 foot peak in the local San Gabriel Mountains and is the highest peak in the Angeles National Forest.

The calf-crushing, leg-busting hike to the tree-free summit affords views of the beautiful sprawl that is Los Angeles County and gives you an appreciation for the sheer magnitude of the populous.

The hike begins when you exit the 210 at Mountain Ave. in Upland. After following the road through Mount Baldy Village and up into the parking lot at Baldy Notch where a ski lift will take you to your start point.

If you want a true workout, park at Manker Flats and hike up to the Notch, no cheating here.

From the Top of the Notch lodge, the trail begins it’s long incline up to the summit. The hike is almost entirely all uphill, your toned calves will thank you.

Pine trees and chipmunks are standard until you reach Devil’s Backbone, where shale and rock drop off steep inclines on either side of you. This adrenaline-filled tightrope walk is where most of the hike occurs.

The devil’s backbone ends at the saddle, which marks the last 700-foot push to the summit. This is the final stretch before you can collapse thousands of feet above the world with a sense of accomplishment and refreshment that only summiting L.A. County’s tallest mountain can give.

The saddle is also the beginning of where you can discover some of the lucrative SoCal snow. Hike this trail between late November and early May, and you may well find yourself ankle-deep in glorious, melted and re-frozen slush.

Push yourself past the windy saddle, up to the summit where a plaque will mark your accomplishment.

Take the obligatory Instagram photo to post when you get back to civilization and head back down the mountain.

Once you reach the Notch, the ski lift ride down can give your legs rest, or you can laugh at the poor souls on the lift as you take the trail and know that you didn’t cave, not once, to the ski lift.

The Hiking Boot Chronicles

The Hiking Boot Chronicles

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