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Devil's Backbone Trail #7W05

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

3.1 mile 5.0 kilometer point to point
65% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,184' 666 m
Descent: -11' -3 m
High: 9,997' 3,047 m
Low: 7,824' 2,385 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 13% (8°)
Max Grade: 39% (21°)

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Trail shared by Tracy Sulkin

A popular trail from Mt. Baldy Notch to the top of Mt. Baldy.

Tracy Sulkin

Features Views · Wildflowers

Need to Know

Adventure Pass required to park at Manker Flat. Trail is very dangerous if there is snow or ice.

Runner Notes

Some sections of very narrow trail. No room to squeeze past anyone coming up. Much of the service road and trail has loose tiny rocks, what I call "ball bearings;" especially troublesome on the way down from the summit. Going up the last stretch to the summit (about 650 feet), you'll encounter pockets of large rock outcroppings to "climb through." Sometimes this requires balancing yourself with a hand. Other parts of the trail have nice, smooth dirt. There are occasional tree roots to negotiate. Although the trail is really well-maintained, you may get scratched by close brush here and there if you're not paying attention.

On the way up, when you get past the highest ski lift tower, you can watch for two side trails. One goes to the top of Mt. Harwood and the other goes down the Register Ridge route that ends on the Baldy Bowl Trail #7W02. (A great run up for training.) At the saddle between Mt. Harwood and the final stretch to the summit, there are often extreme winds. Be careful

Description

The trail starts at Mt. Baldy Notch which can be reached by taking the Baldy Road #3N01 from Manker Flat or riding the ski lift which operates on most weekends. From the notch, head north on the dirt road to the top of the ski lift. From there it becomes a singletrack trail that follows a ridge with sheer drops on both sides.

Along the trail before Mt. Harwood, you have great views of the east side of the mountains. When the trail opens up below Mt. Harwood, you can see Baldy Bowl and the west ridge.

On the summit of Mt. Baldy, you have a 360-degree view, with Baden Powell to the northeast, the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the far distance to the north, San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio to the east. You can often see the ocean and Catalina Island, and even make out the isthmus on a clear day. There are rock rings and plenty of room to kick back and have a snack.

A really pleasant finish to your day could be a ski lift ride down. It provides a beautiful view that you don't get from the service road on your way up. It takes about 20 minutes and glides smoothly down the mountain. If you parked near the locked gate at Manker Flat, it's less than 0.5 mile to run back to your car. (The lift saves about 3 miles.) Tickets, one way or round trip, can be purchased in advance or inside the restaurant at the notch. Totally worth it.

Flora & Fauna

The section of the trail that parallels the service road from the notch is semi-shaded with Jeffrey pines, sugar pines and white fir. Manzanita, ceanothus and chinquapin are the most common other ground cover. Past the highest chair lift tower, the trees start thinning out with limited shade from lodgepole and limber pines. The landscape below Mt. Harwood is like a movie set, especially on foggy days--my favorite area. Just past Mt. Harwood, you reach tree line where the trees are more stunted.

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Jul 21, 2019
Cameron Kruse

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 16 votes

#3

in Mt. Baldy

#413

Overall
  4.4 from 16 votes
5 Star
56%
4 Star
25%
3 Star
19%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#3

in Mt. Baldy

#60

in California

#413

Overall
65 Views Last Month
4,430 Since Aug 5, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
29%
50%
14%
7%

Photos

Summit of Mt. San Antonio facing south-east.
Aug 5, 2015 near Wrightwood, CA
Looking toward a ridge section with great views!
Aug 1, 2015 near Wrightwood, CA
The Devils Backbone juts out of the ground on Mt. Baldy.
Feb 23, 2017 near Wrightwood, CA
There's a reason they call it the backbone!
Aug 6, 2015 near Wrightwood, CA
It speaks for itself.
May 20, 2019 near Wrightwood, CA
The final ascent to Mt. Baldy up the Devil's Backbone Trail.
Jun 5, 2017 near Mount B…, CA

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