Difficulty R Distance 5.1 to 10 miles General information: Dogs allowed Rating: 9 San Gabriel Mountains Season: Fall/Early Winter Season: Summer

Mt. Baden-Powell


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As seen in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. guidebook!

View from the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell
Mt. Baldy from near the Baden-Powell summit

Text and photography copyright 2010 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Mt. Baden-Powell

  • Location: Vincent Gap, Angeles National Forest. The large parking lot is on the south side of the Angeles Crest Highway, 15 miles east of Highway 138, 8.7 miles east of Wrightwood, 5.2 miles east of Big Pines and 53 miles west of La Canada. Check road conditions before visiting. A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 per year) is required.  Click here to purchase.
  • Agency:  Angeles National Forest/San Gabriel River Ranger District
  • Distance: 8 miles (out and back)
  • Elevation gain: 2,800 feet
  • Suggested time: 4.5 hours
  • Difficulty rating: R (altitude, elevation gain)
  • Best season: March – October
  • USGS topo map: “Crystal Lake”, “Mount San Antonio”
  • Reccomended gear: Hiking Poles
  • More information: Trip descriptions here, here, here and here
  • Rating: 9

Mt. Baden-Powell, at 9,399 feet, is the fourth tallest, and probably second most famous, peak in the San Gabriels.  It doesn’t quite have the wide-ranging views of its more famous neighbor to the southeast–nor the bragging rights that come with bagging Mt. Baldy–but it does offer a great training workout for higher summits, and there are some nice vistas from the peak.

Most of the work is done on the Pacific Crest Trail, which leaves the Vincent Gap parking lot and doesn’t waste any time climbing.   (The trail pretty consistently gains 700 feet per mile).   There are 42 switchbacks, and depending on which one you are on, you will get views of the desert to the north or Mt. Baldy to the east.  Altitude markers help give a sense of progress.

Near the top, the trees start thinning out and the trail reaches a saddle, continuing west while a signed spur leads the last hundred or so yards to the summit.   The views from the top include Baldy, the rest of the Angeles National Forest, Orange County, and on clear days, the ocean.  There is also a large monument to Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts.  The famous Silver Moccasin trail climbs 53 miles from Chantry Flats and ends up here on the summit.

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5 comments

  1. I think you undersell this hike. The ridgeline near the finale has no equal in Southern California–a 15-foot wide trail that drop off several hundred feet on either side, dotted with ancient limber pines. At least, I’ve never seen anything similar on any other hike (but if you can recommend one, I’d love to hear!). As a bonus, this hike is much less crowded than Baldy. You’ll most likely have the summit all to yourself.

    1. Point well taken. In my experience, I saw more people on Baden-Powell than on Baldy – but I also did BP on a holiday weekend and Baldy on a weekday morning, so that probably had something to do with it. I certainly think Baden-Powell is a great hike, but I’m a little partial to Mt. Williamson; I think the views from the top are more dramatic. If you haven’t checked out Williamson, make the trip. Smith Mountain and Throop Peak are two other great ones in the Angeles National Forest that aren’t quite as well known as they should be.

  2. Agreed with Raphael that you undersell the hike; I was surprised you only gave it a 9. The only thing I would like for it is to be longer, because it kicks ass in so many ways!

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