I’ve never hiked in the snow before so i decided to do that yesterday. Living in Southern California, Angeles National Forest definitely comes to mind and Icehouse Canyon was the perfect trail. I’ve summited Baldy before twice in the summer, but I knew that the snow would make things much more dangerous and difficult.
I called the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center and spoke briefly with the ranger. I highly recommend that everyone makes sure to check the weather, road conditions, and call in the visitor center before hiking this trail. You may need tire chain driving up there. Although I was lucky, this past week has been dry and sunny so the road was in a normal condition. Crampons was recommended though, so I rented my from REI in Tustin for $12 for a day.
Trailhead Elevation: 7,500 ft.
Elevation Gain: 2,600 ft.
Miles: 7 round trip
Difficult: moderate and could be strenuous depends on snow and physical ability of the hiker.
Trail Condition: Well-maintained and easy to navigate
Trail GPS: 4.25018, -117.635997
Directions: the trail head parking lot is located on the same driving direction to Mt. Baldy Ski Lift but you will see a sign that says Icehouse Canyon before you start making a bunch of switchbacks. Turn right onto Icehouse road and parking lot is right there.
What’s needed: Adventure Pass or Day pass to park and Cucamonga Wilderness Pass to hike to the Saddle
Highlights: the saddle is the intersection of many trail heads. You can hike up to Baldy Notch, Telegraph Peak, and Ontario Peak, and many others.
I woke up at 5:30am, showered, had a delicious egg sandwich for breakfast and got to the trail head around 8am after picking up my wilderness pass from the visitor center.
The trail head was already crowded by the time I got there. There were at least a dozen car with a huge group going up. I basically rushed to the trailhead to avoid having to hike behind them. Although this may not be the best solitude hike, it is beautiful and it’s a great introduction to snow hiking for me. Although the trail was crowded and I wanted an alone time, I felt more comfortable knowing that if I fall and break a leg there will probably be someone coming up my way in five minutes. Good thing that did not happen. I did fall, but I just kind of cut my hands.
I have to tell you that there was not a lot of snow when I hiked, but make sure to check the weather on the morning of before you go hiking. At this elevation, a little bit of rain can mean a lot of snow and if you’re unequipped, you may have a hard time driving back down the mountain.
Some parts of the trail is just pure ice! This is why crampons are necessary.
Wearing these makes me feel like a bear. I’m so ready!
Check out this beautiful tree on the trail!
Got some sun shining on the trail. It was a nice day.
I think I will do the Chapman trail next time. It starts from the same parking lot.
When you got to the saddle, you may be surprised that the view is rather anti-climatic. I recommend that you hike up the hill to your left to go above the tree line so you can see the view better. It’s beautiful.
Tired of Subway sandwiches, so I decided to pick up Chipotle the night before and save it for lunch on this hike. Well, more like late breakfast left over Chipotle.