I woke up early last Saturday morning with one goal in mind. I would drive up to Guffy Campground on Blue Ridge, the mountain range above Wrightwood, and hike from there to the top of Mount San Antonio also know as Mount Baldy. I had done a bit of research on the internet and had asked a couple of friends about the hike. My good friend Ryan had done the hike a while ago with Nathan and he explained that it was a pretty steep hike. I also explained that I had planned on taking the dogs along as well. Ryan recommended that I leave the dogs behind as the trail is pretty rugged and steep. I, however, I pretty good confidence in Max and Zoey and knew that they could make it.
We, the dogs and I, set off from Guffy between 7:30 and 8:00am Saturday morning. We had plenty of water and food for our upcoming journey on the Devil’s Backbone Trail. We hiked past the slide on the Pacific Crest Trail and soon saw the “Sheeps Wilderness” sign at the Devil’s Backbone Trail Head.
For those who are not familiar with the Devil’s Backbone Trail near Wrightwood, the trail starts at one of the bends in Blue Ridge Road. The notable landmarks are the obvious ridge leading to the top of Pine Mountain and the “Sheeps Wilderness” sign at the trail head. The Devil’s Backbone Trail traverses two summits on the way to the final summit on Mount San Antonio, the highest peak in the San Gabriel range. The two additional summits are Pine Mountain and Mount Dawson, although the trail does not actually pass over the top of Dawson.
The Devil’s Backbone Trail is a very strenuous trail and hikers are literally led straight up the ridge and then straight down depending on the direction of travel. Keep in mind that Pine Mountain and Dawson must be summited twice on the way to and on the way back from Mount Baldy.
Pine Mountain at 9,648 feet is the second tallest peak in the San Gabriel range and is the first peak to traversed on the way to Mount Baldy via the Devil’s Backbone Trail. Next Dawson is traversed to the southwest as the ridge falls away into a “saddle” on the way to Mount Baldy. At 10064 feet Mount San Antonio is the highest peak in the San Gabriel range. The final push to the top of Mount San Antonio aka Baldy is quite steep and strenuous, however, once at the top hikers are rewarded with amazing views of the northern San Gabriel range, views of the Inland Empire, and the Mojave Desert. However, don’t expect the summit of Mount San Antonio to be a private affair as most hikers reach the summit via the Mount Baldy Ski area ski lift. My summit experience was no different and there were nearly 30 individuals on the summit there to great Max, Zoey, and I.
The hike back was just as strenous as the hike in although there is a bit more downhill on the hike back. Both Dawson and Pine Mountain must be summitted once again…and unfortunately, they’re still the same height as they were on the hike in.