Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
California Hikes Hiking Trails Los Angeles County Hikes

A Winter Ascent Of Mt. Baldy via Baldy Bowl And Ski Hut Trail

For winter adventurer's looking for an introduction to mountaineering, Mt. Baldy offers the steep and challenging Baldy Bowl route. I cannot stress enough the importance of safety on this route. Do not attempt this hike without the proper gear and training.

Mt. San Antonio, more commonly known as Mt. Baldy, is a 10,064ft mountain peak located in the San Gabriel range of Southern California. There are numerous routes to the summit, with the most popular being Devil’s Backbone and Skit Hut Trail. For winter adventurer’s looking for an introduction to mountaineering, Mt. Baldy offers the steep and challenging Baldy Bowl route. I cannot stress enough the importance of safety on this route. Do not attempt this hike without the proper gear and training. You should at the very least have an ice axe and crampons. You may also want to consider a helmet. Make sure to have training for self arrest should you need it. REI holds self arrest seminars on this very route. It is also possible to hike Baldy Bowl in the snow free months, but with such loose terrain on a steep mountain, I do not recommend it.

Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide


Directions:

  • The trailhead to hike Baldy Bowl Trail is located at Manker Flat, the same trailhead that is used for Devil’s Backbone and Ski Hut Trail for ascents of Mt. Baldy. Click here for directions
  • From the 210 freeway, exit Baseline (eastbound) or Mountain (westbound) and head north towards Mt. Baldy Road and Mt. Baldy Village. Continue past Mt. Baldy Village and take a left towards the Mt. Baldy Ski Resort when you see the parking lot for Icehouse Canyon. The trailhead is just after the Manker Flat camping area and just before the ski lift parking lot.
  • Download GPX
  • See my track on Strava

Key Points:

  • Distance: 8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3980 ft
  • Minimum Elevation: 6156 ft
  • Maximum Elevation: 10064 ft
  • Time: 5-7 hours
  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Dog Friendly: Yes, but not advisable
  • Permit Required: No, Adventure Pass Required To Park
  • Season: Year Round, But Best In Winter With Snow
  • Trail Condition: Well On Ski Hut, Use Trail Up Baldy Bowl

Make sure to hike with the right gear. See my current hiking gear list. 


Hike Map And Elevation Profile:

As you can see in the Google Earth image below, the actual Baldy Bowl route on this climb is fairly short, but very steep. The vast majority of this hike takes place on the Ski Hut Trail, also known as the Baldy Bowl Trail.

Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Baldy Bowl via Google Earth

Climbing up the Baldy Bowl route takes hikers up 1800ft of elevation in a little over a mile. Make sure you’re in shape for this one, as you do not want to run out of gas half way up the mountain.

Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide


Hike Description:

As I mentioned above, much of this hike takes place on the Skit Hut Trail. I’m going to assume that you have hiked to the summit of Mt. Baldy via Ski Hut Trail (and/or Devil’s Backbone, Bear Canyon, Register Ridge) before taking on this Winter ascent. For that reason, I’m going to be brief in my description of the first two miles, as you’re probably already familiar with this section of the trail.

From Manker Flat parking area, walk past the port-o-potties and yellow gate up the paved Mt. Baldy Rd. towards San Antonio Falls. Once you pass San Antonio Falls, you’ll begin hiking on a fire road. Keep an eye out to your left for the start of the Ski Hut Trail, marked by a broken trail sign reading “Baldy Bowl Trail”.

Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
On The Fire Road

Continue on Ski Hut Trail for 2.5 miles until you reach the green San Antonio Ski Hut. The San Antonio Ski Hut sits at 8300ft and belongs to the Sierra Club. Offering a fully equipped kitchen with dishes, water, and lighting, the Skit Hut is a pretty nice place to house up to 16 people. The rate is $20 for non Sierra Club members, and $16 for members. You can contact a hut host for more information.

Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Skit Hut Trail With Baldy In View
Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
The Ski Hut

After leaving the Ski Hut behind, the Ski Hut Trail cuts through the base of the Baldy Bowl and climbs up a ridge to the west. Instead of heading towards this ridge, you’ll want to look to your right (north), and begin climbing straight up the Baldy Bowl. There are a number of different routes you can take, and you’ll notice more than a few use trails in the snow if it’s been more than a few days after a storm.

Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
View From Ski Hut Trail
Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
West Towards Ski Hut Trail
Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
First Steps Up Baldy Bowl

Baldy Bowl is a steep and unrelenting route. There are few places to take a break or adjust your gear once you get moving, so make sure you have everything dialed in before you head up.

Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Looking Up
Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Looking Back
Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Working Hard

If you’re afraid of heights and/or get vertigo, this is not the hike for you. If you like the feeling of being on top of the world, you’re going to love it! Don’t forget to turn around and enjoy the views every now and again. Once you’re half way up, the skies really start to open before you. The northern side of the front range is in full view, with fan favorites like Cucamonga and Ontario Peak.

Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Views Of The Front Range
Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Devil’s Backbone Trail

With about 800ft to the summit, the Baldy Bowl trail starts to stiffen up for the steepest climbing of the day. Many choose to cut uphill in a narrow switchback pattern to ensure their footing. Other more daring climbers venture off towards the steeper chutes.

Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Almost There
Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Stopping To Enjoy
Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Alternate Routes

With 300ft of elevation and .2 miles to the summit of Mt. Baldy, you’ll climb up and out of Baldy Bowl. This section will feel easy after what you’ve just climbed.

Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Last View Of Baldy Bowl
Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
To The Summit

After hiking nearly 4,000ft in 3.4 miles, you’ll be standing on the 10,064ft summit of Mt. Baldy. The views from the summit can be pretty spectacular on a clear day. It’s not unusual to see Catalina Island, San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, Baden Powell, Iron Mountain, and many more SoCal favorites. On the day I catalogued this hike, I observed an event I’m not likely to see anytime soon. A helicopter crashed on the saddle between West Baldy and Mt. Baldy.

Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Summit Snow
Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Perfect Skies
Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Satisfaction

Your return route will largely depend on the trail conditions and snow depth. Some hikers will glissade down Baldy Bowl if there is enough snow. Be very careful though if you choose this option, as there are some very large and sharp rocks. I chose to hike down Ski Hut Trail, for a casual and relaxed 4 mile descent. The choice is yours.

Winter Ascent Climb Hike Baldy Bowl Mt. Baldy Ski Hut Trail Guide
Down Ski Hut Trail

I hope you’ve enjoyed this hike write up. Feel free to leave me any questions or comments in the field provided below. 


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.

25 comments on “A Winter Ascent Of Mt. Baldy via Baldy Bowl And Ski Hut Trail

  1. Curious if you wore the Salomon S-Lab X Alp Carbon GTXs you reviewed last year? If so, have you ever used them with crampons? Just trying to get some field use feedback on their use as fast and light footwear paired with crampons (and snowshoes) for local LA mountains.

    Thanks – great report.
    Michael

    • Hey Micheal, Yes I wore the S-Lab X Alp Carbons for this hike. I only wore microspikes for this hike, but have worn the Carbons with crampons as well. They’re a great shoe, and I actually saw another guy hiking with them to the summit.

  2. jycprofessional

    Awesome write up. This will come in handy for tomorrow 🙂

  3. enjoyed the write up and the pictures. Someone I know came across the helicopter crash you mentioned and they took pictures with it. Crazy.

    Question. If I attempted to summit Baldy via Bear Canyon Trail, In the next three weeks) would I need professional crampons or do you think Micro spikes would work?

    • It was pretty surreal to see the downed helicopter at the summit. Bear Canyon Trail will probably be pretty dry up until around 8,000ft right now. Still. I think you’d probably want a proper pair of crampons. I’ve hiked it this time of year in the past with microspikes, and felt that they were inadequate. The issue is the depth of snow this year from all of the crazy storms we’ve had. The daily thaw/freeze cycle is going to make for some seriously dense and slick ice. It looks like it’s going to start warming up soon. If you can hold off until the end of March, you’ll probably be fine with just microspikes.

  4. Anonymous

    Did Bear Canyon over the weekend and snow started in ernest at 7000′. Had only microspikes but wish I had crampons on the decent, especially around the ridge just before West Baldy. Of the handful of others on the trails at that elevation – everyone else had crampons.

    • Thanks for the input from this weekend! Much appreciated!

      • Anybody know if there’s still much snow/ice on the baldy bowl route above the treeline right now? I’m going to be out there on business next week, and would love to hit this with crampons at most and avoid bringing my ice axe that doesn’t fit in my normal luggage.

      • Jon, there is still snow above the treeline, although a lot of it melted away this week. We’re expecting a two day storm next week on Tue/Wed that should drop a little more.

  5. Thanks a lot for the insight man, I was actually planning on trying to go up around mid afternoon on Tuesday to knock it out after a meeting. I’ve done the normal ski hut route before in June, and would love to check out the baldy bowl route with some snow in preparation for Hood in a few months. If it looks or feels sketchy, I’ll turn around or find a path of less resistance since I’m not bringing my axe this trip to rely on for self arrest should the slope give way.

  6. The bowl is a badass hike in winter. Have you heard of the Snow Creek ascent of San Jacinto? Best winter alpine climb of SoCal.

  7. Awesome!!! Me and my son (13 at the time) hiked the Grand Canyon in the snow 18 miles and he wanted to do it again (age 15 now) but it’s booked all year long! This hike looks fun, especially if we can get a hut too to relax! I read it is difficult but we did do the Grand Canyon down to Phantom Ranch and back. I’m curious if you think it’s harder than that? Also, what dates did you go? I’m looking at doing this around Christmas!

    • One more thing!! I’m always concerned about running into Bears!! I think they are hibernating in the winter correct? Are Bears or other wild animals ever a danger?

      • Here is our Grand Canyon Hike https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4G6_44Xp28

      • Thanks for sharing. As a father of a 1 year old son, this is a huge inspiration!

      • We are heading up this week and curious about the same question Drew; any bears this time of year up Ice House then three “T’s” up Devils to summit Baldy? Do we need to bring bear canister/rodent bags and hang food?
        Thanks for your always informative post!
        Gina

      • Bear sightings in Icehouse are not common during daylight hours, but fairly common at dusk, dawn, and dark. Same with Manker Flat. Human food and trash tend to bring them out. I have never seen a bear or heard of any sightings on 3 T’s or near the Baldy summit. It is possible though. I don’t bring a bear canister when I do overnighters in the area. A rodent bag should suffice.

      • I just read you hiked the Ski Hut Trail back. I’ve been watching videos of Devils Backbone and that trail does look like the most intimidating in the Winter. Is the Baldy Bowl and Ski Hut Trail the easiest or safest?

      • That’s my preferred route, but some like taking Devil’s Backbone. People get injured and die on all of these trails though, so I don’t know if I’d deem any of them safest.

      • Black bears don’t have too many violent encounters with humans. They’re more interested in your food. The mountain lions don’t seem to bother humans either, unless they mistake them for prey at dusk and dawn.

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