This trail is a moderately strenuous hike up to the 9,400′ peak of Mount Baden-Powell. Originally known as North Baldy, Mount Baden-Powell was named in 1931 after Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts. It’s one of the most popular peaks in the San Gabriel mountains, with 360 views of the Mojave desert, Mount Baldy, and the Los Angeles Basin.
Bec and I were looking to get up in the snow for the afternoon and Baden-Powell was the obvious choice. I had been in the area the week before and I noticed the upper mountain had good snow on it. The trail doesn’t have any exposure and it’s not too steep, but the ice can be very dangerous, so we brought our snow spikes.
You can see oaks, Jeffrey Pines, Sugar Pines, Incense Cedar, Lodgepole Pines, White Fir, and near the summit, the gnarled Limber Pines. Compared to most of the other popular peaks in Southern California, this one is pretty easy. That said, it’s still a great workout regardless of your fitness level.
There are 40 switchbacks to ascend, shaded by thick forest. The trail is quite straightforward. In fact, it’s practically impossible to get lost on this hike because of these switchbacks. Bec counted each one as we hiked. It was her quirky way of telling herself that this was not going to be one of those “epic” long hikes that seems to never end.
The weather ended up being perfect. It was a cool 50 degrees at the trailhead and clear. The snow level started at about 8,500′ and I was glad we brought our spikes. As expected, none of the other hikers on the mountain had them and they were sliding all over the place. That day, there was a ranger at the summit chastising these ill-prepared hikers and turning them back.
The summit was nice, but it was so cold our faces were burning from the blast of the cold howling wind. We bumped into some other hikers who took our picture, then we headed back down. Within 100 feet of the summit, the winds died down to nothing, making our descent pleasant. We were home in time for an afternoon cup of coffee on the porch.
It’s pretty amazing to live in the city, summit a ~9,400′ snowy peak, and be back in the comfort of your living room by 3:00 pm. Only in Southern California.