Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With DogsMt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
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A Snowy Christmas Eve Hike To The Summit Of Mt. Baldy With The Dogs

This Christmas Eve, Julia and I took Isla and Lilly on a hike to the summit of Mt. Baldy. We've been blessed with a few nice storms here in Southern California in the last few weeks, so we knew we'd get to see some nice snow.

This Christmas Eve, Julia and I took Isla and Lilly on a hike to the summit of Mt. Baldy. We’ve been blessed with a few nice storms here in Southern California in the last few weeks, so we knew we’d get to see some nice snow. What we weren’t expecting to see was the breathtaking cloud formations sweeping over the San Gabriels as we hiked. It was windy and cold, but easily one of the most beautiful days I’ve spent in these mountains.

We arrived to the Manker Flats parking lot at 9 AM, and as expected, it was nearly empty. There were only a handful of cars parked near the trailhead, and it was no surprise that we only saw about 10 people on the trail for this entire hike. Heading up Ski Hut trail, the path was free of snow until we passed the ski hut and made our way up the switchbacks after Baldy Bowl.

This hike is a little over 11 miles and covers 4000ft of elevation gain to the 10064ft summit of Mt. Baldy. I do not recommend this hike for hikers without experience. Do not go into the mountains without proper training, fitness, experience, and gear. 


Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
First Steps On The Trail
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Heading Up From The Base Of Baldy Bowl

The snow cleared from the trail on the south facing climb after the switchbacks. The wind was really starting to push in hard from the West, so we bundles Isla and Lilly up into all of their layers. It was pretty funny to see them wearing three warm layers while sprinting around in the snow.


Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Isla and Lilly
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Isla With The Views
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Julia Hikes Up

After completing the stretch of Ski Hut Trail that faces south, we made our way towards Baldy on the section of trial covering the final mile. There are some really nice shaded sections here that hold on to a lot of snow and gave the feeling of a Winter Wonderland. It’s highly unlikely that we’d ever have a White Christmas in Southern California, but it’s pretty awesome that we can go on hikes like these to find our own snow covered Christmas trees.


Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
The Snow Deepens
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Just Two Girls Having Fun
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
A View From The Trail

Isla and Lilly ran towards the summit faster than Julia and I could manage. It’s amazing how strong and tough these two little goldendoodles are.  The wind was really howling from the peak of Baldy, and the temperatures were well below freezing. We took a few pictures and made a quick descent towards Devil’s Backbone. Usually, we like to stay and enjoy the summit, but I could tell Isla and Lilly were ready to go. They run the show when we go hiking. I love how well they communicate.


Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
At The Summit
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Isla and I
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Julia and Lilly
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Leaving The Summit Behind

As soon as we were off of the summit the wind died down, and it felt like the temperature doubled. It’s amazing how much wind can affect one’s perception of temperature. The direct sun is now different. Out of the wind and into the sun, we were once again feeling like champs, and began our descent.


Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Isla On The Hike Down
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Lilly And Julia

From the peak of Mt. Baldy, I could see a front of clouds pushing in from the coast and into Baldy Bowl. By the time we were hiking through Baldy Bowl, the clouds had arrived. It was pretty magical to see the clouds drift up and over the Devil’s Backbone ridge and disappear into the skies of the High Desert.


Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Clouds Move In
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
The Wind Blowing Isla’s Layers
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Julia Looks Out

As we made our way onto Devil’s Backbone, there were a few moments where the visibility was cut down by an interchanging fog. Luckily, the sun kept it’s thickness at bay and we were treated to some pretty amazing views.


Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
One The Backbone
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
On The Ridge

Instead of continuing on the trail towards the Baldy Notch, we took the Turkey shoot shortcut to find some better views of the shifting clouds in the valley. It turned out to be well worth it as I go some shots of some of the best views from the day. By the time we reached the fire road for the last three miles of hiking, the fog had completely enveloped the trail. It was the perfect may to end such a magical Christmas Eve hike.


Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With DogsMt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Isla And The Clouds
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
The Turkey Shoot
Mt Baldy Winter Hike Hiking December In The Snow With Dogs
Into The Fog Home

I'm Drew, creator of Trail to Peak. Trail to Peak brings content to life on the web through breath-taking photography and captivating video. I launched Trail to Peak in 2014 with a goal to inspire readers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I have traveled to 19 countries, walked Camino de Santiago, hiked the John Muir Trail, trekked through the Andes of Peru, and am constantly seeking new adventures in my home state of California. Joining me on my weekly adventures is my partner, Julia, our son, Owen, and our two goldendoodles, Isla and Lilly.

22 comments on “A Snowy Christmas Eve Hike To The Summit Of Mt. Baldy With The Dogs

  1. Nice pics!

  2. Adorable pictures and amazing landscape! It looks like quite a hike!

  3. These dogs are so cute and the landscapes, amazing!!! <3

  4. Isla and lilly, i loved them both alot…they are so adorable and quite photogenic…:D Beautiful scenes with beautiful words, keep on writing and merry christmas!!!

  5. I love hiking Baldy, but have yet to try it during the winter. Looks like an epic adventure! Loved seeing your pics on Instagram. Keep ’em coming.

  6. I have never been to My, Baldy, however your beautiful photographs and enthusiasm are quite enticing, Perhaps a new addition to my bucket list.

  7. Awwww cute dogs! And great pictures!

  8. I live farther up north and unfortunately all the good mountain trails that I like are inaccessible at the moment so I’ve been looking to do some more strenuous hikes down south. Do you think I would still be able to do it? I have yaktrax for snowier areas and plenty of layers. But I’m wondering if there will be too much snow to deal with.

    Love your blog, I look forward to new posts all the time!

    • With all of the weather we’ve had this week, the snow is going to be pretty deep. I caught a glance of Cucamonga Peak and Ontario Peak this morning, and there was snow on the South facing slopes above 5000ft. This means the north facing slopes will be pretty heavy until we get some warm weather. The snow tends to melt pretty quickly in the San Gabriels. Give it a few weeks, and you should be good to go. Yaktrax are okay, but a solid pair of microspikes would do better. Ski Hut Trail up to Baldy will be your best bet if you do go. Thanks for reading the blog!

  9. Anonymous

    Great pics!! I’m supposed to hike Mt Baldy on Sunday and was planning on bringing the dogs, but with all this weather I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. Do you think I should leave them at home? I’ve never hiked Mt Baldy before.

    • Thanks! Sorry for the late reply. Did you end up hiking Baldy? It’s probably not a good idea to bring dogs up with all of the snow that fell last week. Give it another week or two to melt, and it should be okay.

  10. I live in Mt. Baldy and hike around the trails with my dog Bella every week. I love and appreciate the beautiful pictures you took on your summit. Nice job!

    • Thanks! I’ll be sure to check out your blog. So many great trails in Mt. Baldy!

      • Sounds great, thanks! My next blog is on a rescue I was involved with not too long ago. I live next to the SAF trails, so I get lost hikers all of the time. I also want to talk about general safety, which seems appropriate with the recents deaths this past week. Let me know if you would like to share any safety or general information on hiking on Bella’s Blog. Have a good one!

      • That’s awesome. I’ll look forward to seeing that one. I’m sure you get a ton of lost hikers around the SAF trails. General safety in these mountains is a poignant topic with all of the rescues a deaths on these mountains in the last month.

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