Hiking Mt. Baden Powell, July 16, 2017 9,399 ft (2,800 ft +/-) 8 Miles RT

I think when you grow up in Pennsylvania it’s in your blood to hike.  I can remember most of what I did when I lived there besides riding my horses was hiking the local trails and spending time in the forest.  In my 20s I drove to Virginia and hiked on the Appalachian trail along the Blue Ridge mountains in Shenandoah National Park.  It was beautiful.  This weekend my husband and I drove back up to Wrightwood to hike Mount Baden-Powell, a peak in the San Gabriel Mountains named for the founder of the World Scouting Movement, Robert Baden-Powell.  It’s also one of the highest peaks in Angeles National Forest standing at 9,399 ft.  Mount San Antonio aka Old Baldy or Mt. Baldy being the highest at 10,064 ft.  The trail begins at the Vincent Gap parking lot and follows along a section of the Pacific Crest Trail for a total of 8 miles out and back.  The only wrench in our plan was that Highway 2 has been closed since June because of a sinkhole, so we had to park at Grassy Hollow and walk almost 3 miles down the road just to get to the trailhead.  The Mt Baden Powell trail has an elevation gain of 2,800 ft. and a series of 41 switchbacks which begin to climb as soon as you start the hike.  But once you reach the top the views are sublime.  Another reward of this climb is once you’re at 9,000 ft. there’s a grove of ancient trees called limber pines, some of which are 1,000+ years old clinging to the bare slope.  It’s an amazing spectacle and well worth the work you have to do to get there.  If you click below on “read more” you can see some of the photos I took along the trail with comments about our journey.

We arrived at the Grassy Hollow Visitor Center where we parked our car and began to walk down the highway to get to the trailhead at 06:32 AM.  The sun was still coming up over the mountains.

We arrived at the Grassy Hollow Visitor Center where we parked our car and began to walk down the highway to get to the trailhead at 06:32 AM.  The sun was still coming up over the mountains.

Giant Blazing Star, Mentzelia laevicaulis, growing on the rocks.

Giant Blazing Star, Mentzelia laevicaulis, growing on the rocks.

Our shadows as we walked down Highway 2 in the morning sunlight to the trailhead.

Our shadows as we walked down Highway 2 in the morning sunlight to the trailhead.

Someone had decorated this pine with Christmas ornaments.  Merry Christmas!

Someone had decorated this pine with Christmas ornaments.  Merry Christmas!

We arrived at the trailhead at Vincent Gap parking lot at 07:22 AM and began our ascent.

We arrived at the trailhead at Vincent Gap parking lot at 07:22 AM and began our ascent.

At about .95 miles there's a bench where you can stop and take in the view and rest.  There's still a long way to go.

At about .95 miles there's a bench where you can stop and take in the view and rest.  There's still a long way to go.

At about 8,653 ft. you'll see this interesting knotted pine.

At about 8,653 ft. you'll see this interesting knotted pine.

This is the view at 8,907 ft.  It was a clear day and on the way up we took in spectacular views of the Mojave and the LA Basin.

This is the view at 8,907 ft.  It was a clear day and on the way up we took in spectacular views of the Mojave and the LA Basin.

Looking back at one of the many switchbacks.

Looking back at one of the many switchbacks.

This trail is a nice way to see how the forest changes with altitude starting with oaks, Jeffrey pines, sugar pines and incense cedars.  Then it changes to white firs and into lodgepole pines as the forest thins.  Finally at about 9,000 ft. you begin to see the ancient, twisted limber pines.

This trail is a nice way to see how the forest changes with altitude starting with oaks, Jeffrey pines, sugar pines and incense cedars.  Then it changes to white firs and into lodgepole pines as the forest thins.  Finally at about 9,000 ft. you begin to see the ancient, twisted limber pines.

My husband walking up the trail.

My husband walking up the trail.

9,013 ft.

9,013 ft.

Coming upon the first bare limber pines.

Coming upon the first bare limber pines.

View as we started our trek across the ridge to the summit at 9,247 ft.

View as we started our trek across the ridge to the summit at 9,247 ft.

On the ridge.  I didn't really like looking down, but those views!  Wow!

On the ridge.  I didn't really like looking down, but those views!  Wow!

Hiking up into the clouds.

Hiking up into the clouds.

Sign at the Mt. Baden Powell PCT junction.

Sign at the Mt. Baden Powell PCT junction.

On the ridge you'll come upon the magnificent Wally Waldron tree.  It is one of the oldest living limber pines estimated at over 1,500 years old.  It is named after Boy Scout leader, Michael "Wally" Waldron.

On the ridge you'll come upon the magnificent Wally Waldron tree.  It is one of the oldest living limber pines estimated at over 1,500 years old.  It is named after Boy Scout leader, Michael "Wally" Waldron.

Can you see the face in the tree?

Can you see the face in the tree?

As you near the top, you'll finally encounter the Boy Scout monument dedicated to the founder of the World Scouting Movement, Robert Baden-Powell.  Once you're here, you've made it!  We arrived at the monument at 10:42 AM.

As you near the top, you'll finally encounter the Boy Scout monument dedicated to the founder of the World Scouting Movement, Robert Baden-Powell.  Once you're here, you've made it!  We arrived at the monument at 10:42 AM.

There's a metal register box where you can sign your name along with the many others who have made the journey.  

There's a metal register box where you can sign your name along with the many others who have made the journey.  

The Boy Scout monument dedicated to Lord Baden Powell.

The Boy Scout monument dedicated to Lord Baden Powell.

Our American flag with "Old Baldy" in the background.

Our American flag with "Old Baldy" in the background.

When we arrived, we had the whole summit to ourselves.  We sat down under the shade of the limber pines, had some lunch and enjoyed the views.  Soon after, we began to see other hikers reaching the top.

When we arrived, we had the whole summit to ourselves.  We sat down under the shade of the limber pines, had some lunch and enjoyed the views.  Soon after, we began to see other hikers reaching the top.

At approximately 11:12 AM, we began our descent.  This is the view looking back down at the ridge to where we would now return the way we came.

At approximately 11:12 AM, we began our descent.  This is the view looking back down at the ridge to where we would now return the way we came.

Some hikers going up as we were coming down the ridge with the Wally Waldron tree to the left.

Some hikers going up as we were coming down the ridge with the Wally Waldron tree to the left.

Back down to 8,111 ft.  A very beautiful trail and much easier on the way down!

Back down to 8,111 ft.  A very beautiful trail and much easier on the way down!

7,593 ft.

7,593 ft.

And finally our walk back to the car on Highway 2 at approx. 14:27 hrs.  I recommend bringing extra water because the road really heats up in the afternoon and that nice shade we had in the morning was gone.  All said and done, this hike was as awesome as it was challenging.  There were some sections of the trail, especially as you reach the summit that were tough, but the payoff out weighs the rough spots.  If you go at your own pace, you will enjoy a feeling of accomplishment after reaching the top and see panoramic views of the landscape along with my favorite part of the hike, the ancient trees.  I look forward to doing this trail again.

And finally our walk back to the car on Highway 2 at approx. 14:27 hrs.  I recommend bringing extra water because the road really heats up in the afternoon and that nice shade we had in the morning was gone.  All said and done, this hike was as awesome as it was challenging.  There were some sections of the trail, especially as you reach the summit that were tough, but the payoff out weighs the rough spots.  If you go at your own pace, you will enjoy a feeling of accomplishment after reaching the top and see panoramic views of the landscape along with my favorite part of the hike, the ancient trees.  I look forward to doing this trail again.