Mt. Baldy via the Ski Hut Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Southern California. The Ski Hut Trail is also known as the Baldy Bowl Trail, which should not be confused with the Baldy Bowl mountaineering route. This hike begins at the 6160ft trailhead of Manker Flats and gains 4100ft of elevation in 4 miles to the 10,064 summit of Mt. Baldy. In this post you’ll find directions to the trailhead, key points of importance, a hike description with photos, gear recommendations, and a Google Map with an elevation profile.
Directions And GPS Tracks:
- The trailhead to hike Mt. Baldy via the Ski Hut Trail is located at Manker Flat, the same trailhead that is used for Devil’s Backbone and Register Ridge hikes to the summit 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.
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- See track on Gaia GPS
- Distance: 8 miles
- Elevation Gain: 4083 ft
- Minimum Elevation: 6170 ft
- Maximum Elevation: 10064 ft
- Time: 4-8 hours
- Difficulty: (3.5/5)
- Dog Friendly: Yes
- Permit Required: No, but an Adventure Pass is required to park at Manker Flat
- Parking: There is a lot of parking available along Mt. Baldy Rd, but the trailhead can get very crowded on the weekends.
- Trail Condition: This is a steep trail of single track that is mostly buffed out with rock outcrops in places. There is ice and snow on this trail in the winter, and conditions can be very treacherous without proper gear and training.
- Cell Phone Reception: None
Hike Map And Elevation Profile:
0.0 Miles (6170ft)- After parking on Mt. Baldy Rd, head towards Falls Rd where you’ll see a few port-o-potties and a trail sign. Keep walking on the asphalt road and pass a closed gate. The first .5 miles of this hike is on a paved asphalt road.
0.5 Miles (6428ft)- You’ll reach the end of the asphalt road and get a view of San Antonio Falls. These falls can be quite impressive after a wet winter. From the falls, leave the asphalt road behind and continue hiking the Mt. Baldy fire road.
0.9 Miles (6588ft)- Make sure to be hyper-vigilant on this part of the hike, as it’s very easy to miss the turnoff for the Ski Hut Trial. You’ll see a use-trail to your left and a sign that reads “Baldy Bowl Trail”. The trail climbs at a pretty steep grade when you leave the fire road behind, but it eventually levels out a bit to a steady grade.
The Ski Hut Trail averages 1,000ft of elevation gain per mile, and you can really feel it for the second mile of this hike. Luckily, the trail is pretty buffed out on this section, which makes for some easy uphill climbing. If you’ve made the mistake of starting this trail late in the morning on a weekend, it can be hard to pass some of the larger and slower moving groups. Make sure to get an early start.
There are a few sections on this trail that are a bit narrow, so be mindful of your footing. There are also a lot of great vistas with viewpoints south towards the Inland Empire and north towards the Sierra Club Ski Hut and Baldy Bowl.
2.0 Miles(7822ft)- As you reach the 2-mile mark, you’ll start to see your first views of the iconic green Sierra Club Ski Hut up ahead.
2.6 Miles (8189ft)- You’ll reach the San Antonio Ski Hut. The Ski Hut is managed by the Sierra Club, and is open to members for overnight stays.
After leaving the ski hut behind, you’ll cross over a creek and traverse the bottom of the Baldy Bowl. This stretch of trail is pretty straightforward until you reach the boulder field at the end of the Bowl. From here, make sure to head west until you see two large boulders. The trail goes between these two.
After leaving the Baldy Bowl behind, the trail follows switchbacks up through a wooded forest. Make sure to have proper footwear, as this section is pretty steep. It’s not much of a problem on the uphill, but something to keep in mind on the downhill. This is also where things start to get a little treacherous when completing this hike in the winter. See pictures here and here.
3.0 Miles (8492ft)- You’ll reach a saddle and approach the final mile of hiking. This final mile is pretty steep, gaining nearly 1500ft of elevation. From the saddle, head north on the ridge towards the summit of Mt. Baldy. To your left you’ll see views of the Bear Canyon Trail, and to your right you’ll see views of Mt. Harwood and Devil’s Backbone Trail.
When you approach the trail up the ridge, you’ll see that the trail forks. Both routes lead to the same place near the summit. The right hand route is a little steeper than the left. On each route from the fork, there are multiple use-trails. Luckily, they all follow the same ridge and lead towards the summit. There are a few reflective trail markers to keep hikers on the right path.
If you’re not used to hiking at elevation, your lungs will start to really feel the thin air in the final half mile (9300ft). Keep pushing hard though, as the final stretch isn’t as steep as the section leading up from the saddle before this.
4.0 Miles (10064ft)- You’ll reach the summit of Mt. Baldy, the highest peak in the San Gabriels. There are few mountain peaks that can provide views that will beat the ones you’ll find from Baldy. You’ll see San Gorgonio and San Jacinto to the east, Santiago Peak to the south, Catalina Island and the Pacific Ocean to the south, and Iron Mountain and Mt. Baden Powell to the north.
Once you’ve enjoyed enough time at the summit of Mt. Baldy, you can return to your car the way you arrived, or make it a loop trail by taking Devil’s Backbone.