Hiking Mount Baldy in the Snow

Being on the summit of Mount Baldy in the snow is magical. It fills your soul with some kind of transcendent joy that is hard to describe. As many times as I've been up here, it never gets old.

Mount Baldy has become my go-to fitness hike location. The trail is 40 minutes from my house, no permits are required, and I can get to the summit and back in less than 5 hours. I’m training for a lot of hard hiking in 2018, so I’m on this mountain every chance I get.

It snowed heavily in the last few weeks and I was anxious to get up there.

Mount Baldy via Ski Hut Trail Quick Facts

  • No permit needed

  • No Adventure Pass required for parking

  • Snow and ice in winter

  • Allow 4 hours

  • Strenuous

  • 3,900′ of elevation gain

  • 8.5 miles out and back

  • Trail tops out at 10,069′

I should note that a lot of people die on Mount Baldy, mostly in winter conditions. The Devil’s Backbone Trail is particularly dangerous. No one should ever take this trail in the winter. There is ice and fatal exposure.

I took the Ski Hut Trail (aka the Bowl Trail) this morning. I took snowshoes, crampons, and an ice ax. This was overkill for what I probably needed, but I’d rather err on the side of safety. If I am going to get killed on a mountain it will be a massive, dangerous mountain, not Mount Baldy 🙂

To my disappointment, I didn’t need any of my snow gear, except for the crampons. As I passed the bowl there was hard ice all the way to the upper mountain. Then dirt for a quarter mile, then ice again. It was one of those days where you end up taking your crampons on and off, on and off.

I was shocked that I was the only one who prepared for snow. I lost track of all the people I saw in running shoes, sliding all over the mountain. This is why people get killed.

I lost track of all the people I saw in running shoes, sliding all over the mountain. This is why people get killed.

The summit was covered with a thin layer of hard pack and the view was clear and beautiful. I would have loved to have stayed for a while, but the winds were blowing at 40mph and it was below freezing. I had to lean back against the wind to keep from blowing over.

I ran into another hiker up there and we took pictures of one another. He had come up the Devil’s Backbone route and said it was pretty scary. “No kidding,” I thought to myself. I encouraged him not to take that route back and to take the safer Ski Hut route instead.

He had come up the Devil’s Backbone route and said it was pretty scary. “No kidding,” I thought to myself.

I got off the windy summit and found a ridge with a great view where I could soak in my surroundings. If you take a moment to appreciate it, being here fills your soul with some kind of transcendent joy that is hard to describe. As many times as I’ve been up here, it never gets old.

Trail Map


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Elevation Profile

mount baldy
mount baldy

Manker Flats Trailhead

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