Play full-out. Hold nothing in reserve.
~Robert D. Smith
Mt. Baden-Powell (elevation 9,407) is a popular peak to climb in the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California. It was named after Lord Robert Stevenson Smyth Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scout movement and has a small monument honoring him at the top.
The trail leaves from Los Angeles Crest Highway at Vincent Gap with the route sharing a few miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Last summer I hiked the 4 miles to the top that included 41 switchbacks and 2,800′ of elevation gain. Upon reaching the hot, crowded summit that day, I knew I needed to come back when this graceful, steep mountain was under a blanket of snow.
After a fresh snowfall in January, we packed up our Kahtoola Microspikes, Ice Axes, and snowshoes to climb this peak once again. Arriving at the trail head at 9:00 am, the day was perfect, cold and sunny and not a soul around.
As the snow deepened in the high altitude and the trail faded, we decided to head straight up the hill. This strategy ended up cutting significant distance off the climb to the top (from 4 miles to 2.8). Before this trip, I uploaded way points and maps on my Topo Map app on my iPhone. I used this several times to reassure our location and route.
Shortly before reaching the daunting ridge that leads to the peak, we approached a group of back-country skiers with a very cool dog. He decided to join Dan and I for a short time.
Between the bright clear sun, cold crisp air, crunching snow beneath my snowshoes, and dazzling sparkles on fresh snow, I am always left in awe of the gifts God and nature provides at no cost. The invitation is there, just get out and enjoy it.
The last section of this winter wonderland is a ridge that is often photographed and can get very icy from wind and cold. We were lucky the sun had softened the snow a bit.
Old growth Limber Pine forest toward the top is picturesque.
The views from the top are stunning overlooking the Mojave Desert, Mount Baldy, and the Los Angeles Basin.
Our snowshoes glided down the mountain quickly.
I highly recommend this hike in the wintertime, especially if your goal is to enjoy the mountain without Baden-Powell’s usual summer hiking crowds and if you are seeking exercise, scenery, and easy route finding.
- View all photos on Flickr