Mt. Baldy Hike: Mt. San Antonio Summit (10)For the last six years or so, I’ve lived in the foothills below the San Gabriel Mountains, almost directly below Mt San Antonio, more commonly known as Mt. Baldy. I’ve spent a lot of time around Mt. Baldy in the last six year. We head up there almost every winter to see a rare sight in southern CA (snow), ride up the ski lift during the other seasons to grab a drink at the Top of the Notch restaurant, and hike around the Icehouse Canyon often. I can’t believe that it has taken me six years to finally hike up to the summit.

Starting the hike

Mt. Baldy Hike: Mt. San Antonio Summit

the view from the Mt. Baldy ski lift

Hikers have several different options when starting out the hike. For those wanting to complete the entire 11.3 mile loop, you can start the hike at the base of the Manker Flats trailhead or from the Baldy Bowl (or pick one of these other trail options). For those of you that are satisfied with a shorter, yet still intense hike, you can take the ski lift up to the Top of the Notch Restaurant (elevation – 7300 ft.). Taking the ski lift takes off about 4 miles and about 1500 ft of elevation from the hike. While this may be considered a cheat to some people, that bit of the hike that is cut out is just walking along the fire road, and the resulting hike to the summit and back is still about 6.5 strenuous miles. Be prepared for steep inclines!
Mt. Baldy Hike: Mt. San Antonio Summit (14)Mt. Baldy Hike: Mt. San Antonio Summit (15)

Devil’s Backbone

Mt. Baldy Hike: Mt. San Antonio Summit, Devils Backbone

the very beginning, and widest part, of Mt. Baldy’s Devils Backbone

The most difficult part of the hike, in my opinion, is the Devil’s Backbone. The backbone is a very narrow strip that has high, sheer drops off on both sides. The path itself is fairly straight and flat, but trail is only one to two people wide in most parts. Since I have a somewhat strong fear of heights (I typically go weak in the knees), I had a difficult time with this section of the hike. But for hikers that can’t afraid of heights, this section of the trail is actually one of the easiest.

Mt. Baldy Summit

Mt. Baldy Hike: Mt. San Antonio Summit

approaching the Mt. Baldy summit

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Ocotillo in the Colorado Desert; Joshua Tree (13)

If you follow my instagram then you were inundated with photos from my backcountry camping trip to Joshua Tree. I ended up snapping hundreds of photos during the three day trip so it has taken me quite a while to go through them all. Some of my favorite photos / memories of the trip involve the Ocotillo.
Ocotillo in the Colorado Desert; Joshua Tree (8)

Understandably, the beautiful plant also goes by the name Desert Coral. While it isn’t actually a cactus, the green stems are covered with big spikes that protect the flowers from animals.
Ocotillo in the Colorado Desert; Joshua Tree (5)Ocotillo in the Colorado Desert; Joshua Tree (6)

My favorite thing about the ocotillo is that they are often found by themselves in open, rocky slopes or washes. Since they are typically about 20 feet fall, they really stand out in the dry deserts of the Southwest.
Ocotillo in the Colorado Desert; Joshua Tree (9)Ocotillo in the Colorado Desert; Joshua Tree (11)Ocotillo in the Colorado Desert; Joshua Tree (12)Ocotillo in the Colorado Desert; Joshua Tree (14)


Hiking San Diego- Big Laguna Trail
It shouldn’t be any surprise that San Diego county offers some really beautiful hiking trails. One of my favorites is the loop created by the Big Laguna Trail and Pacific Crest Trail.

Hiking San Diego: Big Laguna Trail

The trail is a bit on the longer side – 10 miles that can quickly turn into about 12 if you make a few wrong turns like I did – but the hike itself is pretty easy. The beginning part of the hike takes you through an area that suffered a fairly recent forest fire but is still beautiful.

I was shocked when we came up to the top of the loop that offered incredible views of the surrounding deserts. Absolutely gorgeous.

The most memorable – and scariest – part of the hike was when we came across a herd of cattle. I don’t know if you’ve ever been within 100 feet of a big herd of cattle but holy shit they are terrifying.

They were even more terrifying when they chase a man and his dog because they didn’t like the latter. I seriously almost peed my pants.

Overall, I would highly recommend this hike for anyone in the San Diego area. It is also worth noting that the Big Laguna Trail (not the section of the Pacific Crest Trail) also welcomes dogs that are leashed (but clearly proceed at your own risk) and mountain bikes.

Have you hiked the Big Laguna Trail or can you suggest any other trials for those interested in hiking San Diego?