There are a few different starting points for this hike, but we chose to start from Baldy Village and follow the beginning of the Bear Canyon Trail. We had an idea of when to leave the main trail, but we were planning to rely on our maps to find our way. Luckily, we ran into an off-trail hiking expert who gave us some tips on how to stick to the least overgrown trail.
At Bear Flat, you leave the trail and start walking on a use trail full of whitethorn and manzanita bushes that isn't very pleasant if you're wearing shorts and prefer your leg skin to remain intact.
The trail is mostly hot and exposed but after a while, you end up in the canyon among some big ass trees next to a stream in bear-friendly territory. At some point, you have to leave the "trail" and head straight up to get out of the canyon. (Sorry, that's about as detailed as I can get. Bring a map.)
|Enjoy the shade.|
When it starts to look like this again, you're almost there.
|No more shade.|
The peak doesn't have the greatest views, but it does have some impressive history. A couple of dudes went up there in the 20s and measured the speed of light.
If you're one of those creepers who crushes on Mt. Baldy, Lookout Mountain is a good place to sit and stare.
Instead of heading back the way we came, we tried to find a route toward Cow Canyon Saddle, but never found it and ended up sand surfing our way down the mountain. Eventually, you'll find a sort of maintained-ish trail that takes you to the saddle. Parts of this trail are just completely gone and aren't particularly safe, but if you survive you'll end up at Cow Canyon Saddle staring at a bunch of oddly placed tractor tires.
|Weirdness courtesy of the Monrovia fire|