Mt. Baldy Hike

Summit, 10,064 ft
Mt. Baldy Hike: Manker Flats Loop
Mt Baldy Rd & Falls Rd
Mount Baldy, CA 91759
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Type: Outdoors
Category: Fitness, Hikes
Company: Experienced hikers (especially those with a good sense of direction)
Cost: Free

Quickie: Full-day hike (ranging from 8-13 miles) that will take you through snow, along a ridge, over rocks, and above the clouds - all culminating in a 360 degree view of what will appear to be the rest of the world.

Devil's Backbone
OTC Tip: You will see people wearing large hats and carrying umbrellas for the exact reason this mountain is called "Baldy" - there is little to no shade, and hiking around 10,000 ft for several hours will render you a whole new shade if you don't apply sunscreen (bottom of your nose, the back of your neck, and your knees, included).

Considering I have yet to become injured, dehydrated, bitten, or marooned on a mountain - I suppose I was due for some thin luck.

OTC Tip: Bring a map of your route, 3 liters of water per person, food, sunscreen, bug repellent, sun glasses, a hat, hiking poles, electrolyte tablets, an experienced Baldy hiker if you have one, and of course - your camera.
Baldy Saddle

I know, so quick to tip? It's because we made three mistakes on the trail, two being relatively benign (one, we hiked straight up a ski slope instead of taking the scenic "round about." Two, we made our own path up a wall of snow instead of taking the correct route) but the third was where I heard myself say "Oh, so THIS is how people get lost...and stuck on a mountain...overnight..."

But I'll get to that. The day started off in typical fashion: we parked at Manker Flats and entered the trail via Falls Rd (fire road) which we followed all the way up to Blady Notch (top of the ski lift). At the lodge, we topped off our water bottles and used the last "real bathroom."

Now, here is your first opportunity to bypass our first botch of the hike: take the trail to the RIGHT (directly under the ski lift) unless you want to find yourself hiking straight up Turkey Shoot Ski Run (steep, blisteringly hot, gravely). Once you reach the top (from either way) you will continue along a dirt path to the beginning of the Devil's Backbone.

OTC Tip: After the Devil's Backbone, you will start to thin that you are getting close to the summit. This inclination is incorrect. You will continue your trek along the cusp of the mountain, and you'll know when you've hit the Baldy Saddle when there appears to be the point of a mountain in the horizon with a path of tight switch-backs leading the way.

It's here that, depending on the time of year, you will probably want to veer off path and play in the snow.

OTC Tip: At the top, take too many pictures. Eat lunch. Make friends with your fellow hikers.

In order to complete Manker Loop, head south. This route is significantly steeper, bushier, and less marked. You will boulder, dodge trees, and probably slide a few feet on your ass several times.

While it was nice to not hike back on the same path, I don't actually recommend hiking down Baldy Bowl Trail (unless you are with a veteran Baldy hiker) because this is where we got lost, about two miles away from the getting back to the trailhead. Luckily, we spotted hikers on the right path on the opposite side of the ravine, but we had little water and the afternoon was closing in on early evening. Not ideal.
New friends!

The great thing about Manker Loop is that it will deposit you right where you started, without having to retrace your steps. Definitely a hike I encourage everyone to try - but please, don't make the evening news by doing what we did, and make sure to be well-packed and prepared!


Colton Smith said...

Stoked! You girls are hot! My buddy and I are hiking up Bear Canyon trail on Saturday. Thanks for all the insight! Cool pictures.

Sallie said...

Aww, thanks Colton. Have a blast!! Don't get lost ;)

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