With all of the snow here in the San Gabriels, picking a trail to hike on the weekends has become somewhat of a conundrum. There are so many great trails leading to peaks that weave in and out of such incredible scenery. One place Julia and I hadn’t been to in quite some time was Icehouse Canyon. We were a little short on time, so instead of Ontario or Cucamonga Peak, we decided on hiking Timber Mountain (8,303 ft) with our return leg on Chapman Trail. This is one of our favorite areas in the summer, but funny enough, we’ve never reached the summit of Timber Mountain without bagging Thunder and Telegraph as well on Three Ts Trail. This variation is 9.6 miles and took 4:45 to complete.
Icehouse Canyon is simply spectacular right now. The fields of snow greet the eye as soon as you hit the trail, with powdering still on trees, and rivers of ice frozen solid in the morning. We started at 8 AM, and luckily the trail had yet to fill up, it was really nice to enjoy some solitude in such a tranquil setting. If you plan on doing this hike in similar conditions, make sure to come prepared. The trail is very icy and covered with snow from start to finish. A few hikers we saw came less than prepared, and one group had to make for a quick exit due to the slick conditions. Micro spikes are a must, and trekking poles are highly recommended for four points of contact.
After about two miles into the hike, when the trail switches sides in the canyon, the sun crept over Ontario Peak to dazzle the snow and ice in the trees. At this point the footing gets a little better, as the past few days have provided enough sun exposure to melt most of what last weeks storm dropped down. We reached the Icehouse Saddle after about an hour and twenty minutes of hiking, and took a short break before heading up to Timber Mountain.
The trail from the Icehouse Saddle to Timber Mountain via 3 T’s Trail is about 1 mile. There is a shorter more direct route that takes you strait up from the saddle, but we decided to take 3 T’s, as there appeared to be no footprints in the snow. It’s quite easy to see the summit from the trail on the way up, but with so much snow, we lost the ridge pretty quickly. As soon as we lost the feel for where the trail should be, we hiked straight up the side of Timber Mountain to the summit. It was a gorgeous stretch of hiking with lots of fresh powder and game tracks. At the summit of Timber Mountain, we took a nice break, and did a little walking around to take in the views.
On the way down, we took the more direct route to the Icehouse Saddle and made our way towards the junction for Chapman Trail. Chapman Trail was empty, save for two hikers we came across at the junction. Being that this route down to the Icehouse parking lot sits higher on the southern facing ridge, the sun had made it a much more manageable downhill. It’s amazing how much different the two routes to the Saddle feel, given that they’re so close. We discovered upon returning to our car, that it was probably the best move we could have made for time. The entire Baldy area was swarming with people, cars packed full, and families shoveling snow into the backs of pickup trucks for reasons I’ll never understand. I’ve never seen the area this crowded. Nonetheless, this was an incredible hike, and one I’m sure we’ll be doing again as I try to hit my goal of 1000 miles this year.
View more pictures in the gallery below: