Distance (round-trip)

8 mi

Time

5 hrs

Elevation Gain

2818 ft

Season

Spring
Summer
Fall

Weather

A moderately challenging 8-mile trek up the north face of one of the tallest mountains in the San Gabriels. Fans of switchbacks will love the march to the top of this peak, which rewards hikers with a stunning ridge, 1500-year-old limber pines, a small monument to the founder of the Boy Scouts, and a mostly-bare summit with tremendous panoramic views of the landscape. A popular trail, but definitely on the list of must-dos for the Angeles National Forest.

NOTE: The Angeles Crest Highway is often closed in the high country during winter or after rainstorms. Check the CALTRANS site for highway 2 conditions before you drive up there.

The trailhead is clearly marked from the road, and has a large parking area and outhouses. While this can be a crowded trail – popular with day-hikers, backpackers, Boy Scouts, and Pacific Crest Trail through-hikers, don’t let that discourage you from hiking it. There are also a few other trails that leave from this parking lot – so don’t worry if you see a lot of cars when you pull in.

Head toward the western corner of the lot, then hop on the Pacific Crest Trail and start hiking.

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The trail is mostly shaded by pines at this elevation, and has a moderate but very consistent grade. You’re not going to find much flat ground to rest your legs, here. Just count the switchbacks and you’ll be fine.

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The scenery of the trail is nothing spectacular for most of the trek, but the thick evergreen forest is a very-welcome respite from the drudgery of city life, and as you ascend, you’ll be able to see more of the Antelope Valley to the north or, if you’re lucky, some leftover wildflower blooms.

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About a mile in, there is a small bench at a switchback, overlooking the mountains to the east of Baden-Powell. In another 0.7 miles and 8 switchbacks, there is a short spur trail to Lamel Spring, which – of course – should be treated before you drink any water. You’ll also pass this great knotted tree:

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It was around this point in the trail that I started encountering the last of the stubborn winter snow, still hanging on to the mountain in seemingly frozen snow-slides … or very tiny glaciers.

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While these little snowblocks started off as very small obstacles, they soon grew much larger, blocking large sections of trail, making it so I had to either climb over them or hike on some of the more directly-ascending use trails for a while.

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But it was at this elevation – about 3 miles in and just under 8500 feet – that the trees got more gnarled from the weather, and the views of the Antelope Valley to the north became much clearer.

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… if you look near the left of center in this photo, you can clearly make out the Devil’s Punchbowl. Viewed from this elevation, you can really see what a geological freakshow that place is, and how much it sticks out from the rest of the surrounding landscape.

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At about the 3.5 mark, the formerly just-pleasant trail takes a turn toward the dramatic. Here, a short, unmarked use-trail will lead you to a small, ancient grove of limber pines, some of which have been sitting on this windswept ridge for a thousand years.

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When you’re done getting your mind blown by the trees, your horizon will widen to reveal a breathtaking view of Pine Mountain Ridge and Mount Baldy to the southeast.

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… and when you’re done with that, you can look down to see the near-sheer drop of the ridge you’re standing on. I told you this part was dramatic.

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… all this, and you’re not even at the summit yet!

When you’re done soaking in the views here, continue on the trail along a short summit ridge with a sharp drop to the left. The Pacific Crest Trail bypasses Baden-Powell’s summit, heading west toward Islip Saddle. Ignore this and continue on the marked path toward the Baden-Powell summit, making sure to take time out to stop at the “Wally” Waldron Tree.

In 1962, Angeles National Forest Supervisor Sim Jarvi discovered the grove of limber pines here was over a thousand years old, and the Forest Service named a particularly impressive specimen after Michael H. “Wally” Waldron. Waldron was an L.A. area Boy Scout leader who helped organize a nine-week project to repair the trails and erect the concrete monument and plaque to Lord Baden-Powell. His gnarled, double-trunked tree clings to the summit ridge just beyond the point where the hiker briefly leaves the PCT and is believed to be the oldest living thing in the entire San Gabriel Mountains.

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From there, it’s less than a tenth of a mile up to the bare cap of Baden-Powell, adorned with a small concrete monument to peak’s namesake.

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Relax, have a snack, layout on the summit and enjoy the panoramic views, then head back down the way you came.

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Modern Hiker, Author of "Day Hiking Los Angeles," Walking Meditator, Native Plant Enthusiast.

Dog-Friendly

Historical Interest

Shade

Views / Vista

76 Comments

Casey Schreiner Aug 17, 2016 18:08In reply to: Amy

On leash, yes.

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Amy Aug 17, 2016 17:08

Are dogs allowed on this trail?

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Timmy Nov 23, 2015 20:11In reply to: Steve

Went up there today, 11/23/15. Caltrans has closed Highway 2, just west of the Vincent Gap Parking Lot, due to the mudslide down the way. Spoke with a Cal-Trans employee who said he thought it'd be closed through next year sometime. So, access is from the Wrightwood side only. The trail has some snow on it, but we made it to the top and were rewarded with great views. The weather was pleasantly chilly, and things are supposed to get cold and windy up there tomorrow and Wednesday. Happy hiking!

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Steve Oct 19, 2015 09:10

So I drove there yesterday, and there was no problems accessing the parking lot. Right after the lot, you can see they blocked off the 2. It was a very enjoyable hike, especially towards the top (took way too many photos). Thank you everyone for your help!

By the way, are there other areas to see the type of trees found at the top (the limber pine trees)?

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Casey Schreiner Oct 16, 2015 17:10In reply to: Steve

Good luck!

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Steve Oct 16, 2015 17:10In reply to: Casey Schreiner

Thanks for the update Casey, I called, but neither could confirm if the parking lot was also cut off. The site says the 2 is closed between Islip Saddle and Vincent Gap, so I'm going to try my luck tomorrow.

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Casey Schreiner Oct 16, 2015 05:10In reply to: Steve

Steve, I also recently read (and posted on the Facebook account) that they'd also closed the 2 from Wrightwood due to some landslides. It's definitely worth calling in to either the ANF HQ or CALTRANS to check on that before you drive all the way out!

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Steve Oct 15, 2015 14:10In reply to: Steve

Thanks for all of the suggestions! I called Big 5 and they do indeed sell the Adventure Pass. I also called the park ranger, and they mentioned that the 2 on the west is already closed for the winter. So I will be taking either the 15 or the 14.

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Gloria Oct 15, 2015 11:10In reply to: Steve

Hi Steve I Beleive you can buy $5 adventure pass at Big 5 sporting Goods

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Cristina Oct 15, 2015 10:10In reply to: Steve

You can purchase the adventure pass at REI or at the ranger stations (like the one Angeles Crest Highway, near Switzer’s). Roads were open when I visited in April and should be open now. They close for snow/ice in the winter.

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Cristina Oct 15, 2015 10:10

You can purchase the adventure pass at REI or at the ranger stations (like the one Angeles Crest Highway, near Switzer's). Roads were open when I visited in April and should be open now. They close for snow/ice in the winter.

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Steve Oct 14, 2015 14:10

Hi, I'm planning to hike there this weekend. Two questions:
1. I was not aware of the Adventure Pass until today. I'm afraid that if I purchased the pass today, I won't receive it before heading to the trail. Any recommendations?
2. I read the above comments that certain roads were closed. Any word if they're still closed?
Thanks!

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Gloria May 1, 2015 10:05In reply to: Cristina

Hi Christina, the only way to find out is to contact Caltrans, maybe you can do that online - try their website

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Cristina May 1, 2015 08:05In reply to: Sue

I'm curious about roads as well, particularly CA 2 from La Canada. About a month ago, the road was still closed (winter closure?) at the Mt. Islip trailhead.

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Gloria Apr 29, 2015 19:04In reply to: Sue

Hi Sue I didn't do the trail this last weekend, but I did go up to Wrightwood for ziplining and as far as the road conditions - no closures the way I came. I came up on the 15 fwy North taking CA-138 then hwy 2 took me straight into town no problems. Mt. Baden Powell is still on my to do list.

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Sue Apr 29, 2015 16:04In reply to: Gloria

I'm planning on doing this hike this weekend as well and would love some pointers and make sure the roads aren't closed!

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Gloria Apr 15, 2015 10:04

Hi Casey and fellow hikers, I am wanting to do this trail but not sure if the roads are closed, and what to expect. I am coming from the 15 fwy starting in Rancho. Any pointers?

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Justin B Mar 25, 2015 20:03In reply to: Jon C.

Thanks for the update Jon! Hoping it'll be open by summer.

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Jon C. Mar 23, 2015 09:03In reply to: Justin B

@Justin - the 2 is closed from Islip saddle going West for about 5 miles due to rock slides. I went to Throop Peak from Islip Saddle on the PCT about a month ago and came down to the 2 on the way back to Islip saddle to check out the road. It's still covered in rocks and as far as I know there hasn't been any updates on when it's to be cleared.

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Justin B Mar 16, 2015 09:03

I did this incredible hike yesterday and it was a warm winter wonderland for the last third. A few people were turning back as the trail basically gets lost under the snow towards the very top, but you can make your way following others' tracks. I wouldn't necessarily be dissuaded however. It was lovely. Just don't be a new like me and go in trail running shoes. I could have used some microspikes and/or trekking poles, or proper hiking boots at least.

Also, the 2 was closed past Vincent Gap for some reason. When does that open?

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Toby Feb 3, 2015 11:02In reply to: Casey Schreiner

Thank you very much Casey for the quick response. I will try to call the ranger station before Sunday. I appreciate your time and effort in maintaining this informative website.

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Casey Schreiner Feb 2, 2015 17:02In reply to: Toby

You should be OK, but the north face of the mountain does tend to hold on to snow a bit longer than the surrounding areas - and the trail is almost completely on that north face.

If you're concerned, I'd call the ranger station at (626) 574-1613 to ask if anyone's been on patrol in the area recently.

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Toby Feb 2, 2015 16:02

Hi Casey, We're planning on hiking Baden-Powell via Vincent Gap this Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. Do you know if we need to be concerned about the snow. Is it hike accessible up to the summit (Concrete monument)? Thank you very much for your response.

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Casey Schreiner Oct 6, 2014 11:10In reply to: Tina

Switchback-cutters are one of my biggest outdoor pet peeves - glad you enjoyed the hike, though!

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Tina Oct 5, 2014 20:10

Great hike write-up! We did this today and it was pretty much as described (no snow). Definitely worth doing!

Some silly people have been short-cutting the switchbacks, so we tried to put branches and rocks to block them off.

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Courtney Sep 1, 2014 20:09

I hiked this yesterday (Sunday- Labor Day Weekend) and this was my first time on this side of the Angeles. What a delight it was to hike up with a mountain with actual trees and shade along the trail! I've spent too much time west of Mt. Wilson. It was more crowded than I expected but not at Echo Mountain levels. I encountered members of a large group with that did not bring sufficient water and seemed to have underestimated the rigor of this climb. I'm in very good shape and I struggled, likely due to the high altitude. What a view from the summit! After doing this, I am optimistic about my ability to summit Baldy in the near future.

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Bruce Chambers Jul 28, 2014 10:07In reply to: Saina

It is okay to park overnight using the annual pass. As there is a problem with car breakin's the Rangers warn to make sure that you have nothing at all of value or otherwise on the seats or floor of your vehicle.

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Tom Romo Jun 16, 2014 14:06In reply to: Saina

You can also purchase a 12-month Adventure Pass for $30. Much better deal if you frequent the Angeles Forest, and it makes parking overnight legal. The single-day passes are only good for the date you scratch off.

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Casey Schreiner Jun 11, 2014 12:06In reply to: Saina

All the Adventure Pass stuff is still very confusing for SoCal Forests, but I'm pretty sure you'd be OK parking overnight here with any Pass that's longer than a Day Pass.

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Saina Jun 11, 2014 00:06

i was thinking about doing a weekend hike and since I'm planning a PCT thru-hike next year. I have an Adventure Pass. Can i just park overnight? Not familiar with that area...Does anybody know?

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Casey Schreiner May 19, 2014 20:05In reply to: Phillip

May is a bit early for September weather predictions, but if we get the predicted El Niño this year there may very well be snow up there in September. In most years, though, you'll probably be OK.

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Phillip May 19, 2014 20:05In reply to: Vince Marquez

Is there ever snow up there in late September?

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Kristin May 7, 2014 01:05

Hiked this trail 5/4/14. Almost no snow- there was only one patch near the top where snow covered the trail (small, maybe 5-6 feet long). Hiked in shorts and t-shirt, which was fine (long sleeve shirt pulled from pack was appreciated at the top- windy) .Great hike, very consistent ascent...the last .5 miles or so my heart was thumping and we stopped a bunch to catch our breath! Beautiful views from the top!! About 3 hrs and change up, had lunch at the top, about 1 hr 30 minutes down, and that was an easy pace. We are Santa Monica Mtns hikers, so we absolutely loved this change of pace. My calves felt it the next day for sure!

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Nadim Apr 7, 2014 20:04

Just got back from this today! Went alone and didn't see a single person the whole trip, was quite serene. The snow for the second half of the hike was a little overwhelming and dangerous, but I managed with just some sturdy hiking shoes. Definitely one of the better hikes I've been on. I'd recommend going now for a snowy challenge near the top, otherwise wait a few more weeks for the ice to melt some more.

Thanks for the info on the hike, modernhiker.

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Casey Schreiner Mar 31, 2014 08:03In reply to: Matt Ornelas

Thanks for the update, Matt. I'm surprised there's still snow up there but happy it's hanging around!

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Matt Ornelas Mar 30, 2014 19:03In reply to: Casey Schreiner

did the hike last friday, 3-28, and about the last 2-3 miles of the trail was covered in snow with very few dry spots. i did it in converses and had alittle, but made it up to the top. overall i thought the snow made it more fun and challenging. its kinda hard to tell where the trail is at some points but just follow the foot steps in the snow. if you havent done it yet Louann and still plan on doing it make sure to have good footwear for snow and be safe!:)

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Casey Schreiner Feb 23, 2014 08:02In reply to: LouAnn

LouAnn, we haven't had much precipitation this year unfortunately, but that does mean Baden-Powell should be clear unless we get a much-needed storm between now and your trip!

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LouAnn Feb 21, 2014 14:02

Casey, Thank you for your post! It's very informative and inviting! I'm visiting the area at the end of March and may have time to hike this mountain. Is that too early To hike? i.e. will there still be a lot of snow?

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Sean Apr 30, 2013 22:04

Hiked Mt Islip April 21, 2013. No snow on that trail; however, Rt 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) was still closed. The parking lot for the Mt Islip trail head was as far as you could drive on 2. As of today, CalTrans still indicates this road is closed. http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi

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Shannon Mar 17, 2013 15:03

Tried to do this hike yesterday, the Angeles Crest Hwy (CA State Route 2) is closed 10 miles to the west of the trailhead due to a some rock slides. It should be open in a couple of weeks according to a hiker we ran across.

The road closure is at Islip Saddle, so we took this trail up to Little Jimmy Campground. It's at a comparable elevation to Vincent Gap, and about 500' higher you'll find the trail covered in snow and slightly iced over. Since this is a North slope trail, snow remains fairly thick at 2-36" in the deepest parts we ran across. I would expect the trail conditions from Vincent Gap to Baden-Powell to be similar this time of year.

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j Aug 29, 2012 06:08

I dig your website.

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NateKat May 14, 2012 12:05In reply to: mike p

My husband and I did the hike yesterday (5/13/12). The last 1/2 mile or so had a few snowy areas and we did use our microspikes since we brought them, but it was possible to avoid most of the snow by going off-trail around it. It seemed that many people were summitting with regular hiking shoes / sneakers, and I assume the conditions will only continue to improve.

We had beautiful weather although the views were a bit hazy. Definitely a trail I'd be up for repeating in the future!

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mike p May 8, 2012 10:05In reply to: [email protected]

I called and they did not know either. I held off as the last thing i want to do is drive out there only to be turned away by some stubborn ice near the summit. Thinking about it this weekend as the later it gets - the better it should be.

Took down San Gabriel Peak and Mt Lowe from eaton Saddle last weekend - great quick 5 miler a little closer to home!

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[email protected] May 7, 2012 12:05In reply to: Modern Hiker

I just called the rangers, and they don't know the trail conditions - they're asking for reports from hikers. Mike P., did you go this past weekend? How was the snow? I'm looking to go May 12.

Modern Hiker May 2, 2012 12:05In reply to: mike p

This route is from Vincent Gap ... not sure about the current ice conditions, though. Might want to give the rangers a call if you don't get any responses from fellow hikers here.

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mike p May 2, 2012 12:05

Anyone know how this trail is from Vincent or dawson gap? Looking to tackle it this weekend but would love to know about any snow/ice. Thanks in advance.

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Catherine Feb 2, 2012 10:02In reply to: Steve K

Yikes! Thanks for the info.

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Steve K Feb 2, 2012 07:02In reply to: Modern Hiker

there is alot of snow and ice. I recommend using cramp ons and gators over your boots if you have them. I did it with out crampons and I slipped on ice, banging my knee. The snow causes the trail to be obscured and difficult to see. We ended up following others foot steps up a steep face with 2 feet of snow. It was worth it!!!

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Modern Hiker Feb 1, 2012 19:02In reply to: Catherine

Catherine, your best bet is to call the Rangers at (626) 574-1613. They'll have the most updated trail info and should be able to point you in the right direction.

We haven't had precipitation in a bit, but most of that trail is on the mountain's north slope, which tends to hold onto snow and ice a bit longer. Happy hiking!

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Catherine Feb 1, 2012 17:02In reply to: Steve K

Was there any snow or ice on the trail? I am thinking of hiking Baden-Powell this weekend.

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Steve K Feb 1, 2012 16:02

I visited old Wally on 1/30/21012. I climbed to the summit of this high altitude peak with the longing to see these trees in person. Not only was my breath taken by the views but also by the beauty of the narled wood of the ancient trees there. I think it may be a bristlecone pine, simalar to those found in the ancient bristlecone pine forest. The pine cones are smaller, and have incurved prickles. Im moved by the age of these magnificent trees.

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Catherine Jan 30, 2012 22:01

Anyone know if the Baden-Powell trail has snow right now?

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luis buenrostro Oct 20, 2011 08:10

this place is the nicest place ive been to in my life

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Mt Baden Powell via Vincent Gap on August 20, 2011 | maximum adventure Aug 27, 2011 21:08

[...] on Dan Simpson’s page (above), The Sierra Club Hundred Peaks Section, LocalHikes.com, and ModernHiker.com, and the [...]

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Robert Jul 30, 2011 23:07

This my favorite hike of all times and I do it once a week, if at all possible. Yesterday (July 29, 2011) was my 21st ascend to the top of this mountain since June of 2010. I do it for the exercise, solidtude, clean air and great view. Please watch my Youtube video "Running Down Mt. Baden-Powell" to get an idea of the trail.

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Filip Jun 25, 2011 22:06

hiked this trail today and the weather was perfect. there is a tiny bit of snow in spots, but it's easily manageable. one of the people in my group wore running shoes and was fine. the actual hiking took us 3 hours total (1:50 up, 1:10 down), but we spent over an hour at the top (it's gorgeous). the angeles crest highway is open and newly paved, so it's a nice drive. i highly recommend this hike.

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Randall Feb 27, 2011 11:02

For those of you who want to locate the mountain on a map, the Lat./Long. coordinates are 34.358473, -117.764654

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Local Snowshoeing Pics | Modern Hiker Feb 25, 2011 14:02

[...] Wilderness Training Course, Bob strapped on a pair of snowshoes and headed up to the flats near Mount Baden-Powell for a bit of SoCal alpine [...]

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Ron Clanton Feb 7, 2011 12:02

Explorer Post 288x, From Redondo Beach, built that monument, about 1956 or 57. I was 15 or 16 then. We carried all the cement and water up on our backs. And the forms to. We did it over a 4 or 5 weekends. A memory I will hold dear till I die. Most of the boys still see each other at a reunion every 2 to 5 years. a couple of girl friends helped too. thank you for the photos. I wish I could fine more.

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Vince Marquez Sep 25, 2010 14:09

On September 25, 2010, I jogged up the mountain. My time was 1 hour, 3 minutes, 7 seconds. I'm trying to make it to the top in under an hour. It's hard to train for that elevation, even though my gym is at 4,000 feet, and I set the tread mill at 13% to match the mountain's profile. I can jog 4 1/2 miles on the tread mill in an hour. But applying that pace to the mountain is another thing.

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Stacy Jul 24, 2010 22:07

This Was My First Hike Ever, Although I Didn't Make It All The Way I Was Very Proud. It Was Beautiful, After Some More Training I Will Be Back There To Make it All The Way Up To The Summit

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David Jun 12, 2010 01:06

On memorial day the last 1500 feet or so of elevation was solid snow (no way to see the trail so we just went straight up). It was do able with hiking poles and no ice axe (although glissading down with the ice axe was one of the most fun parts of the trip).
Once you reach the ridge before the summit the snow clears and you can follow the trail again the rest of the way.

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fhsiv Jun 11, 2010 21:06

Does anyone know the current status of any snow pack remaining on the trail?

By the way, this blog contains unbelievable amounts of excellent information!
Thank you for your efforts.

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David May 29, 2010 10:05

What is the best way to reach Baden Powell from the LA area (Glendale specifically)? Have the fire closures affected the road in?

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Mark May 27, 2010 19:05

I hiked to the summit on May 26th with hiking boots and two trekking poles. I would not recommend it. We saw others who did it without crampons, but most that made it to the summit had crampons and ice axes.

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Jeff May 24, 2010 13:05

I tried climbing this summit on Saturday May 22. We got up about two miles and had to turn around because of snow. We noticed plenty of hikers with hiking books and poles who also had to turn around. Will try again after the snow melts.

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elisa May 10, 2010 21:05

i believe it still has snow. last week when i was in palmdale it looked like there was still snow. but i dont know if u need snow shoes,... i know the snow that is up there is slushy

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Robert May 10, 2010 20:05

I'm thinking about trying this hike next weekend, but does anyone know if the trail is clear enough to summit without snowshoes? Thanks!

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Modern Hiker Apr 27, 2010 10:04In reply to: kdizza

If the 2 isn't closed due to weather or landslides, you should be able to hike Baden-Powell. It's east of the burn area.

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kdizza Apr 27, 2010 10:04

Does anyone know if this hike is currently accessible due to the station fire?

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titansoldier2007 Apr 14, 2010 21:04

i hiked this with my boyfriend for the first time june 12, 2009. it was our first major hike together. had a good time till 9000 feet and i swear my lungs were burning. after i stopped 300 ft short of the summit, for 20 mins i made it to the top. we went up in right under 4 hrs, and made it down in 2 hrs 23 mins

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gene Sep 22, 2009 22:09

Great idea about the snowshowing. I live in Wrightwood, so I have done the hike dozens of times...never in the snow though.

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Bud Z Sep 17, 2009 09:09

Have hiked the mtn. 3 times over the last two summers. Trail is well maintained considering the maintainence required. The hike is up the north ridge making for a cool walk in the shade most of the time. It is a moderately strenouous hike and makes for a great workout. Great view at the top.

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Raphael Jun 24, 2009 14:06

This is one of my favorite hikes in LA!

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Steve Jun 22, 2009 07:06

It's a great snowshoe as well. You can skip the switchbacks and just plow straight up the ridge!

http://stevemc.smugmug.com/gallery/7198333_ncRBT#462297038_4Ef96

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Pete ONeil Jun 21, 2009 15:06

Nice web page, very informative. We have hiked Baden-Powell four times within the last several months and it is a good workout, nice scenery and if the day is clear a fantastic view on the summit. As always, be prepared, we went up about a month ago starting out at four in the afternoon and near the top we encountered heavy rain and winds...it got very cold!

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