We come to Claremont with the usual Southern Californian dreams: Los Angeles, beaches, Hollywood, a wide array of professional sports teams…the list is endless. Many students, however, forget about the great opportunities we have within a short drive of campus to get out and explore the outdoors. One of the most accessible is the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, but for the more adventurous, a greater destination lies just a bit farther north.
I present to you Mt. Baldy, elevation 10,064 feet. Approximately 12 miles north of Claremont– under 25 minutes in a car– it is one of the most accessible locations where we can release our inner outdoorsmen. Because the Forum has already covered the fact that Mount Baldy is a great next door skiing destination, I’ll only briefly mention it here. Seriously, though, visit Baldy in the spring. How many schools in the country are 30 minutes from powder and 45 minutes from surf?
For this article, I’d like to concentrate on summertime Baldy, or “first semester” Baldy. Several trails lead to the top, all of which are under 13 miles and are doable as day hikes. The more hardcore hikers can choose to backpack in and camp at the top to witness a stunning sunrise over the San Gabriel Mountains in the morning. If you aren’t digging the windy summit, another camping location on the mountain is located at a Sierra Club- sponsored green shed about halfway to the summit that provides the amenities: a stove, running water, and an outhouse.
Many are content with a simple day hike. One of the shortest and most approachable hikes to the top is the South approach, which starts at Manker Flats via the Baldy Bowl Trail. Though steep in some places, this is a good hike for a beginner. You’ll experience a 4,000 foot elevation gain during the hike, so pack plenty of water and pace yourself; the higher altitude will cause you to tire more quickly. If the South approach isn’t intense enough, you can continue down the Devil’s Backbone trail for a longer trip.
Baldy also has events for those willing to accept a challenge. Just last week, the mountain hosted the 45th annual Run to the Top, and there’s a bike-run duathlon this weekend. Even when there aren’t official events, trail runners love the less steep trails.
Whether in sun or snow, Mount Baldy boasts a bounty of exhilarating activities. Escape the Inland Empire’s traffic and smog at this awesome peak in Claremont’s own backyard.