As seen in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook!
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.
- Location: Angeles National Forest south of Mt. Baldy. From the 210 Freeway, take the Baseline Road exit and go west for 0.7 miles. Take a right (north) onto Mills, go 1.1 miles and bear right onto Mt. Baldy Road. Drive 6.4 miles and turn right onto Barrett-Stoddard Road. Take a sharp right and head down into the parking lot. A National Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click here to purchase.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel River Ranger District
- Distance: 6 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,200 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (elevation gain, distance)
- Suggested time: 3 hours
- Best season: September – June
- USGS topo maps: “Mt. Baldy”
- Recommended gear: hiking poles
- More information: Trip descriptions here, here and here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 7
Stoddard Peak, at 4,624 feet, is tall enough to provide great views of the Inland Empire, as well as a perspective on the higher peaks of the area that you can’t get from ground level. Except for a steep, rugged spur to the summit, most of the hike is on an easy fire road, making it a good choice for beginning hikers who want to challenge themselves.
From the parking area, you descend briefly, crossing a stream, and then begin a steady ascent, snaking along the side of the ridge. As you climb, passing by a few residential cabins (keep an eye out for witty signage), you get a good aerial view of the canyon. You cross a stream, entering a thick cover of black oaks, cross another stream on a rickety bridge and reach a metal gate at 0.8 miles.
The trail ascends steadily past the gate, entering an unshaded area. It continues to wind its way upward at a moderate grade. At about 2.5 miles, you arrive at a saddle. Here, look for a faint trail leading up a steep ridge to the right. Be careful as you make your way up to the ridge. When you arrive, follow the ridge about a quarter mile south and arrive on Stoddard Peak (there is a false summit shortly before).
From Stoddard, on a clear day, Orange County’s Saddleback will be directly in front of you, and you can also see nearby Frankish Peak and Potato Mountain. The taller peaks–Baldy, Lookout, Cucamonga, et. al., are visible to the north. If you’re lucky you might be able to see the ocean.
As with nearby Lookout Mountain, the best conditions for climbing Stoddard Peak may vary day-by-day. In the winter, the northward-facing route is likely to have snow, and in the summer, the elevation is low enough that heat can still be an issue. But regardless of the weather, Stoddard’s “Bang for the Buck” factor is high.