September 6, 2017 at 9:35 pm #393166
I am hiking San Gorgonio this Saturday and only have Baldy left. Been awhile since out there after a crazy August. Only Baldy is left for my 6 pack, and I have no one who needs it or can go with me on a weekday. I’ve done the Manker Flats trail up to the Ski Lodge in the spring as an exploration hike but snow level was at 8K so did not go higher, so I kind of know the area. I likely will go at a moderate pace as I want to enjoy this last peak of the 6 pack.
Is Ski Hut a trail I can solo/is it ok marked? What about Backbone? Any tips appreciated…I just want to get it over with so I can finish my first ever 6 pack.
Thanks!September 6, 2017 at 9:41 pm #393168
Also are there enough people on the trail even during the week that I can follow if needed esp around the scree summit and Backbone if I take Backbone down? When we did Cucamonga via Icehouse on a weekday, we expected crazy crowds but it was almost totally deserted, and we missed a switchback near the top and were out much longer and hiked farther than planned despite having a good map, tracking watch, etc., because of all the winter “trace trails” that looked legit but led nowhere and were on no maps. I know Baldy has had similar stuff, which is why I ask the above questions. Thanks much!September 7, 2017 at 10:08 am #393193Carisa HernandezParticipant
Hello RW! I live near Baldy and frequent the area almost weekly! I am very familiar with the trails that take you to the Baldy summit including Devil’s Backbone, the Ski Hut Trail, Register Ridge, Bear Canyon, and the N. Backbone Traverse. Well it’s always best to hike with a buddy I know sometimes that is not feasible. Having said that, with all the recent rescues in the Baldy area your safest route would be to ascend the ski hut trail and descend by way of Devil’s Backbone. The biggest issue for hikers recently has been once at the summit and attempting to head back down the Ski Hut Trail they over shoot their location and head more west then they should be. This will take you into the Goode Canyon area which is steep with a whole lot of scree. People get down into the canyon and when they realize they are not where they should be they cannot ascend back up the same way due to the terrain and incline. During the week there are days where you may not pass many or any other hikers, so you must know where you are going or at least have proper navigational equipment and know how to use it. Though the Baldy route is fairly easy to follow, it can also be easy to get turned around especially on the Ski Hut side of the mountain! Be safe, and happy trails to you!September 7, 2017 at 4:43 pm #393213Trevor PennaParticipant
I disagree with Carisa H. Yes, you can over shoot on the way down but going up the Ski Hut trail IS SO STEEP. I hated going down that section of the trail and probably wont do that section ever again. Devil’s Backbone trail is easy squeasy, it just has a scary name. The only 2 hard parts are at the beginning of the trail near the lodge. Very steep but if you approach it like a switch back instead of going straight up, the hardest part is over. The last section before the summit is a little difficult but its so pretty and it was probably the altitude that was bothering me the most. There were people of all ages and sizes going this way up.
If I had to do it again, the easiest, and quickest way would be to take the lift to the lodge, hit Devils Backbone, and come back the same way. I wouldn’t do the loop. Although, if you’re doing it for exact way the six pack is designed then do it how Jeff says to. I thought the going down part on the Ski Hut trail was the worst part of the hike. It is very easy to get lost like Carissa H. mentions. Take a map and be careful.September 7, 2017 at 9:39 pm #393217
I love the ski hut trail up (It’s steep but not too bad, you can handle it) and looping around and down the backbone 🙂 Once you get out of the switchbacks from the ski hut you will come upon a well placed sign directing you to the summit and the trail is especially easy to follow here. There is a point where the incline increases dramatically, the trail is soft scree, just miserable but thankfully brief. So don’t do what I did, which was to STEP OVER an obvious barrier (softball sized rocks placed to direct the trail, I knew better but crossed it anyway) Just deal with the scree. I ended up having to backtrack and scramble up it myself anyway. Thank God my hiking buddy Vicki was a good sport! <3 Where the scree trail starts there WAS a yellow arrow spray painted(ugh) onto a low rock directing hikers coming down this way. Go up that way. Once you’re up this short annoyance bear left for a bit and there is another well placed sign letting you know you’re headed the right direction. Shortly after you’ll come upon a nice clearing where you will likely see folks starting to come down. Back up you go! And it won’t be long after this when you will be able to see a marker for the peak. It’s closer than you think at this point. BOOM! Done. The Backbone down is pretty fabulous and very well marked.
I can actually do weekdays. Which ones are you available?September 9, 2017 at 6:36 pm #393298
Thanks much for the info. I have done 4 of the 6 peaks so far (needing only Gorgonio and Baldy), as well as a lot of scree/fallaway crossings on the Middle Fork Lytle Creek trail which were surprisingly a little loose and sketchy (and a trace trail stream crossing ate one of my poles – bottom broke off). I’ve done up to almost 11K with San Bernardino racing down that mtn as a storm blew up over Gorgonio next door and rained on us despite me watching clouds like a hawk. But I also as I said had a great map and buddy had Gaia loaded and we still got lost up by Cuca Peak cause of all the unmarked side trails and missing a switchback where the “switch” was over a rock that was taller than us so we couldn’t see it. That’s why ideally I’d like to go with someone who knows the trails well or on a day where there are people about that I can ask ?s or buddy up with.
I am open any M-Th to do Baldy and can also do a weekend, though I know it gets crazy crowded. I so appreciate the tips and would like to hike with any of you.September 9, 2017 at 11:10 pm #393316Carisa HernandezParticipant
I am off on Fridays and Saturdays and am usually available to hike either of those days. So if a Friday or Saturday becomes available to you, then hit me up! I’m always up to doing Baldy!September 13, 2017 at 5:36 pm #393912
@RW Regarding the response from Natalie C. She is right, you got this. That route is no more difficult than the Middle Fork Trail we took to Commanche Camp. In fact, the trail is easier to follow. I came down Ski Hut and yes, there are several off-shutes on the trail. But, going up should not be a problem. It would be easy to stay on track. Down the Backbone is a piece of cake. I wish I could do this with you, but I can’t fit it in before the end of the month. Glad to know you have someone going with you. Easy day Young Lady!September 13, 2017 at 9:27 pm #393944
Philip, by chance is San Jacinto in your near future? The Marion way…
NatalieSeptember 14, 2017 at 10:32 am #393973
No, sorry not near future. We just did Marion Mtn Trail a few weeks ago. Are you looking to complete before the end of the month?September 15, 2017 at 11:38 am #394033
Hi Philip Thank you for such a quick response 🙂 San Jacinto is my last peak and yes I want to complete it hopefully not under the wire of 30 September! I’m looking at 21 Sep. I’ve not been on this trail before, or any trail to the peak so I’m hoping for a hike buddy who is familiar with it.
Congrats on finishing!!September 15, 2017 at 5:13 pm #394086
Natalie, I hope you can find someone to go with you, especially since it is your first time. Do you have a map and know how to read it? Compass? If you don’t have one, REI sells maps about 10.00 that show the entire area and the trails. I highly recommend them. The signs on Marion Mountain are obvious, so it is difficult to get lost during the day. If you can, drive up a few days before and locate the Ranger Station where you will fill out your permit and then drive to the trailhead where you will start. When driving up early morning in the dark, you will be happy you took the time to check them out. Hope yo find someone to join you. Either way, good luck and be safe. Meaning, at the first sign of uncertainty or danger, turn back. 😐 Good luck!September 17, 2017 at 8:41 pm #394310
Philip THANK YOU! It’s piece of mind knowing the trail signs are well placed and my trail map is always in my pack along with compass 🙂 (Harrison is my favorite!) I know where the ranger station is and your advice to locate the trail head before-hand is well taken so I will try and squeeze that into the days before I hike!
Thank you again and be blessed sir as you have been a blessing 😉
Natalie.October 2, 2017 at 8:50 pm #397813
Natalie – big congrats on bagging San J and the 6 Pack!
Also when Natalie helped me bag Baldy (Ski Hut up/Backbone down – ty ty Natalie!), trail maintenance had spray painted yellow downward arrows and were installing marker poles to help direct people the proper way down Ski Hut. I posted a separate thread about it. So hopefully that will help people traversing Ski Hut down and cut down on the SAR events when people get lost too far off trail esp in the one gorge/canyon area.
I personally found Ski Hut’s steepness fine after doing all other peaks besides Gorgonio (and Baldy) at that point. And Philip was spot on about Middle Fork being great training prep! Ty so much for everything, Philip – u r the best! But I was expecting so much worse in my mind! I thought we would be hiking right up the Baldy scree bowl you see from the lowlands!
Poles helped, esp in the “easy” (compared to the bowl!) scree section near the summit and particularly descending Baldy to Harwood and Backbone to the ski lodge. And I had no problem going slow and taking mini breaks in areas when needed. Baldy was so much more beautiful than I ever imagined, and I am so glad Natalie was able to show it to me and convince me to take Backbone down!October 2, 2017 at 8:59 pm #397818
Lastly, when I helped another SoCalHiker bag San J recently, I got a very nice map from the kiosk where I filled out my permit at Stone Creek Campground – free too. Harrison maps are great too, and as Philip said, REI is a good source.
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