At just up above 10,000 ft, Mt. San Antonio is the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains. This mountain is often snow capped and visible from throughout the region. San Antonio, also known as Mt. Baldy, is still increasing in size. The tectonic plate beneath the Pacific Ocean is crashing into western North America and moving northward. This impact creates the San Andreas Fault, countless mountain ranges, and the high peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains. As the plates collide, the mountains continue to go up.
What Makes It Great
Falls Road is a fire road that is used for vehicle access and maintenance on the ski equipment. The first half mile is paved and takes you to the breathtaking San Antonio Falls, but the real climb starts just above. The fire road turns abruptly at the waterfall. The Mt Baldy Trail shows up on the left, just as the fire road rounds a left bend. This turnoff is exactly 1 mile from the parking lot. From here onwards, just follow the signage.
This trail covers is 3900’ feet of climbing and is strenuous when hot, but it is often much cooler at elevation and makes for pleasant conditions. After two miles of climbing you reach the Baldy Ski Hut, a lodging that is run by the Sierra Club with available beds year round. You can get water from the hut before you begin the final leg of the climb. From the hut, the trail goes west through a rock fall, at the base of the bowl that is the Mt. Baldy summit, and begins to climb the west flank to the summit. The top is 2.5 miles from the ski hut. After you enjoy the exhilaration of the top, it is recommended to descend what you just climbed.
Who is Going to Love It
If you love large alpine hikes and diverse terrain, this is for you. It is best to have moderate fitness and not be sensitive to elevation change.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From the 210 Freeway, exit at Base Line Road and head west on Base Line Road. Take the first right turn on Padua Ave and drive 1.8 miles until you intersect Mt Baldy Road, turn right. The next 11.5 miles will take you up a beautiful alpine road that rises high above the Los Angeles Basin. Just below the ski lifts (yes ski lifts, this area can get serious snow in the winter time), the center median expands to be a parking lot; this is the lot for the trailhead. The trailhead is on the left and labeled Falls Road. If you get to the ski lifts just turn around, the trailhead is just over a half mile below.