San Antonio Creek Falls
Features: San Antonio Creek rises from the sub-alpine heights of the scenic Baldy Bowl and drains the south face of 10,064-foot high Mt. San Antonio (a.k.a. Mt. Baldy). The Forest Service identified a four-mile segment of San Antonio Creek from its source to Mt. Baldy Village to be eligible for National Wild & Scenic River protection due to its outstandingly remarkable scenic and recreational values. San Antonio Creek flows from a spectacular alpine bowl on the slopes of Mt. Baldy through a rugged canyon studded with old growth big cone Douglas fir. Clear days offer visitors to its upper watershed outstanding views all the way to Catalina Island.
San Antonio Creek is a popular destination for families escaping the summer heat as well as for winter sports activities, including cross-country skiing. The scenic 75 foot-high San Antonio Falls draws many visitors from the nearby Manker Flat Campground. The Baldy Bowl Trail leads to upper San Antonio Creek and the summit of Mt. Baldy. Along the way, the trail passes the rustic San Antonio Ski Hut, which was built in 1937 by mountaineers for hikers, climbers, and skiers. According to the John Robinson’s definitive trail guide to the San Gabriel Mountains, Trails of the Angeles, this trail “is one of the most scenic and historical hikes in the San Gabriels.”
The perfect but moderately strenuous way to experience this high country is to ride the Mt. Baldy Ski Lift up to Baldy Notch and then hike the 3.1 miles along the Devil’s Backbone and traverse the south face of Mt. Harwood to the top of Mt. Baldy. This section of the trail provides magnificent views of the desert country to the north and on clear days, you can see the Pacific Ocean and Santa Catalina Island to the southwest. From the top of Mt. Baldy, proceed downhill along the Baldy Bowl Trail for 3.8 miles. This steep trail crosses the very upper segment of San Antonio Creek, passes the historic San Antonio Ski Hut, and switch-backs down past beautiful San Antonio Falls to Manker Flat, about a half mile down the road from the lower Ski Lift station (you’ll either have to arrange a car shuttle or walk back to the ski lift). The Mt. Baldy Ski Lift usually operates Friday-Sunday during the summer (check http://www.mtbaldyskilifts.com/ for operating hours). Even by riding the ski lift up to Baldy Notch, this hike takes all day so be prepared. Of course, if you just want to stretch your legs a bit, you can simply stroll about .75 miles up the gated paved road from Manker Flat to view the beautiful San Antonio Falls.
Directions to trailhead: From Interstate 210 in Upland, take the Mountain Avenue exit and head north on Mountain Avenue. Where Mountain connects with Euclid Avenue, turn left to continue on Mountain Avenue. After entering the National Forest and crossing a bridge, turn right on Mt. Baldy Road. Continue 4 miles north to Mt. Baldy Village and then another 3 miles past Manker Flat to the Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts.
For current road and trail conditions, contact the Forest Service at the San Gabriel River Ranger Station at (626) 335-1251. Be sure to purchase an Adventure Pass for trailhead parking at Manker Flat.
Caution: Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. Always hike with a friend and carry a cell phone for emergencies. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. Remember, California’s wild places are beautiful but they can also be dangerous to the unprepared and unwary. The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials.
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- San Gabriel Mtns Hikes