Hike to Baldy Bowl suited for skilled trekkers
By Peter Weinberger
With beautiful vistas and mountain peaks all around, the hike up to Baldy Bowl has long been a popular destination for those who want a challenging trek during the winter months. The bowl sits southeast right below the Mt. Baldy peak, forming a small yet steep canyon. There is also a small Sierra Club ski hut that usually remains closed but does have a bathroom and running water.
At approximately 8,500 feet, Baldy Bowl is snowed in for much of winter. And even though there is a lightly marked trail on the west side that leads to the Mt. Baldy summit at 10,064 feet, this can be a dangerous place for the inexperienced hiker. People do attempt to summit the mountain in the winter with snow gear and a plan to reach the top, but from my perspective it is not advised. In fact, the trail from the ski hut to the top of Mt. Baldy is no longer listed as an option to reach the top.
Because of the high elevation, one strong winter storm can add several feet of snow, as well as strong winds and severe cold. Over the years there have been numerous rescues — some by helicopter — of injured hikers stuck in the bowl or higher. There even have been deaths from people falling off the cliffs above.
All these warnings, however, should not stop experienced hikers from taking the steep 2.5-mile Baldy Bowl trail to the ski hut. It’s a well-marked trail that starts off the service road to the Mt. Baldy Notch, then veers north right up the mountain for a 2,000-foot elevation gain.
Don’t be surprised to find significantly more snow on the trail during the climb. With the current storms we are experiencing, access is impossible. It’s important for melting to begin to clear the trail. And remember, this hike is also beautiful, and safer, in the summer months.
Hiking to the Baldy Bowl can be a wonderful outdoor experience. The key is to prepare and plan for changing scenery that will likely make the trip more challenging than expected.
Editor’s note: These pictures were taken with a drone far below the mountain and ski hut