I hadn’t been to Mt. Baldy (aka Mt. San Antonio) or to any of the trails accessible from Icehouse Canyon since October–except for a short trek part way up the Icehouse Canyon Trail with my daughter. Really missing both areas, I decided to make last weeks Mt. Whitney training hike a trek from Icehouse Canyon to Mt. Baldy.
I always find starting a hike from Icehouse Saddle to be very enjoyable as a significant amount of time is spent along the stream. For some reason, streams get me immediately focused on the nature I’m walking through which sets the tone for the longer journey.
Stream along the Icehouse Canyon Trail
Among the great things I experience now that I’ve been hiking in Angeles Forest weekly for about a year and a half is to know the territory I’m seeing as I look off into the distance because I’ve been there. It’s profoundly different for me now. I am now able to recall what it looks like to stand in a place I’m looking at far off into the distance, what it takes to get there, and what it looks like to look toward where I’m standing from where I’m looking at. Holding all this in my mind as I gaze out heightens my experience as relationships and interconnections grow.
View toward Mt. Baldy from the Icehouse Canyon Trail about 3 miles up and trekking away from Mt. Baldy.
The forest’s intimacy and grandeur simultaneously captivate me as I look out to places I’ve been but will not be able to make it to today.
Hiking up Timber Mountain and looking out to Ontario Peak where I’ve been but won’t be going today.
The views are expansive, height and distance become more tangible when looking down long canyons instead of simply out off into the distance.
View down canyon from saddle between Timber Mountain and Telegraph Peak
I slow down and look around a lot at saddle areas. The views out are breathtakingly expansive. At the same time there is a close up view up the next mountain displaying its overall form which will no longer be discernible as I climb it.
View of Telegraph Peak from the saddle between Telegraph Peak and Timber Mountain.
Climbing the mountain instead of viewing it from far enough away to see its overall form is similar to the difference between being inside and outside of a building. Smaller spaces emerge along the trail that generate their own sense of place and destination. As the trail leads from one space to the next new features come into view. I particularly like it when the trail curves in the distance and it looks like there may be an interesting spot just around the corner with a new view or a new set of features.
Three Tee’s Trail hiking up Telegraph Peak
After hiking for a while doing switchbacks up the side of the mountain and looking out at expansive views from over 8,000 feet in elevation, the trail gets close to the ridge. It’s low enough still that you can’t see a view over the ridge. The view of the ridge line becomes dominant and I start looking up instead of out.
Three Tee’s Trail near the junction with the Telegraph Peak Trail
After hiking for about an hour with no view of Mt. Baldy, the mountain comes into view near the junction with the Telegraph Peak Trail. Thunder Mountain is somewhat lost in the foreground with Mt. Baldy rising much higher in the distance.
View toward Mt. Baldy from the junction with the Telegraph Peak Trail
Eventually as I make it down toward the saddle between Telegraph Peak and Thunder Mountain, the change of view allows Thunder Mountain to gain prominence as its peak now stands out in front of the blue sky background.
Three Tee’s Trail leading down to saddle between Telegraph Peak and Thunder Mountain with the peak of Thunder Mountain now easily seen against the blue sky.
View down the canyons from the saddle between Telegraph Peak and Thunder Mountain are both expansive and diverse as one side looks northwest and the other southeast.
View Northwest from saddle between Telegraph Peak and Thunder Mountain
View Southeast from saddle between Telegraph Peak and Thunder Mountain
The road down from Thunder Mountain to Baldy notch isn’t very exciting, but there are still great views of Mt. Baldy
Road down from Thunder Mountain to Baldy Notch
My original plan was to hike to Mt. Baldy and return the same way. By the time I made it to the top of the ski lift area I was behind schedule to make it back from Mt. Baldy before dark. So I sat on the concrete pad, had a snack and contemplated my options. I could just turn around and go back easily making it to my car before dark. I could go to Mt. Baldy and return the way I came but hike much of the Icehouse Canyon Trail in the dark using my headlamp. I could go to Mt. Baldy, come down the Baldy Bowl Trail and walk the paved road from Manker Flats to Icehouse Canyon to get to my car in the dark.
Top of the ski lift area.
I decided I’d rather hike to Mt. Baldy and walk the road from Manker Flats to Icehouse Canyon in the dark. I was rewarded with a great trek up the Devil’s Backbone Trail where I enjoyed the multitude of different types of spaces to walk through.
View up the Devil’s Backbone Trail looking at Mt. Harwood.
Devil’s Backbone Trail along a narrow portion with huge drops on each side and spectacular views.
A wider portion of the Devil’s Backbone Trail on the side of Mt. Harwood looking back toward Telegraph Peak where I was earlier.
Walking through a flat area on Mt. Harwood with Mt. Baldy now visible through a wonderful area of trees.
Gorgeous trees and excellent views are plentiful along this short stretch of the trail.
View trekking along the side of Mt. Harwood with Mt. Baldy in view.
View out from the Devil’s Backbone Trail along Mt. Harwood
Heading up Mt. Baldy looking back down on Mt. Harwood
The trail gets pretty steep in places.
The last portion going up the trail before the curve flattens out at the summit.
I had lunch at the summit. While not looking forward to the walk in the dark on the road from Manker Flats to Icehouse Canyon, I felt it was definitely worth the sacrifice.
View toward West Baldy (which is shorter despite the optical illusion), and the path down the Mt. Baldy Trail to the Visitors Center.
View down the North Backbone Trail viewing Dawson Peak and Pine Mountain.
At the summit, I met another hiker (Kevin) who also is training to hike Mt. Whitney. I mentioned my route and my need to walk the road once reaching Manker Flats. Luckily, Kevin drove me to my car. So, the remainder of my trek was a wonderful trek down the Baldy Bowl Trail.
View heading down the Baldy Bowl Trail from the summit.
The Baldy Bowl Trail looking toward Mt. Harwood
View down the Baldy Bowl Trail
View looking up from the base of the bowl along the Baldy Bowl Trail
View back toward Mt. Baldy from the Baldy Bowl Trail
San Antonio Falls from the road leading down to Manker Flats