Dan's Hiking Pages: Hikes in the San Gabriels and Beyond
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Mount Baden-Powell via Vincent Gap (6593' to 9399')
Angeles National Forest / Southern California

Trail Stats
Mileage (r.t.) 8.0
Trailhead 6593'
Mt. Baden-Powell 9399'
El. gain 2803'
Gain per mi. 700'
This is one of the very best hikes in the San Gabriels. The no-nonsence trail zig zags four miles, climbing 2,800 feet, straight up the northern slopes of Mt. Baden-Powell to the lofty summit of this popular peak.

Report Hike Report - 5-31-04 - Memorial Day
Baden-Powel has been on my must-hike list for years. But up until now the hike has alluded me — partly because the trailheads to so many good destinations are so much closer. But now that I've exhausted most of the near-by trails, it's time to take a long drive up the Angeles Crest Highway into back range.

I talked with Drew on Thursday after our evening workout hike and suggested going on a Memorial Day hike. But the plan was tentative because I wanted to leave my weekend open in case my family wanted to do something. But my wife and girls wanted to just stay home and gel on their day off. So I talked with Drew on Sunday and said I had just the hike for us. He agreed and the plan was set.

6:30 AM - Drew arrived at my house with a couple other friends of ours he had decided to invite.

6:35 - Left Azusa and headed west on the I-210 toward La Canada.

7:00 - Turned off the freeway onto the Angeles Crest highway (2).

At 13.1 miles on the Angeles Crest we stopped at Red Box to use the facilities.

Trailhead
At the trailhead. From left to right:
Stephen, Drew, Dan, Pete.
8:35 (47.7 miles from I-210) - Arrived at Vincent Gap — the trailhead. It was already starting to feel warm. Pretty clear day — hoping for good views. Lots of cars in the lot. Stretched our legs, applied sun screen, got our gear together, and had a gentleman take our picture.

8:55 - Begin hike (6593), starting our 4-mile, 2800-foot climb to Mt. Baden Powell. Open forest.

9:25 - Switchback #5. Bench. Views of parking lot.

9:45 - Just past switchback #12. Great emerging views of the Mojave Desert to the north. Stephen wants a photo.

Sign at the Lamel Springs trail junction:
Lamel Springs 1/4
Mt. Baden Powell 2
Little Jimmy 9
Islip Saddle 9
Crystal Lake 12
8W05  
9:50 / 9:55 - Spring Junction
The sign says two miles, thus this would appear to be the halfway point to the summit.

10:02 - Switchback #14 (7903)

10:10 - Snow. Area flattenings out some.

10:20 - Switchback #18 (sign)

10:36 - Photo, west, with Pete, Stephen, Drew

11:20 - Photo, south, toward the summit - Stephen, Dan, Pete. The views from the ridge are stunning.

Sign at PCT junction below Baden-Powell summit:
Dawson Saddle 2.5
Vincent Gap 3.8
Windy Gap 5.2
Islip Saddle 7.2
11:28 - Junction - PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) continues west. Trial to the summit heads south.
Wally Waldon Tree - 2000-year-old limber pine named after the Scout leader who lead the effort to build a Boy Scout monument on Mt. Baden-Powell summit.

11:35 - Mt. Baden-Powell (9399'). Breathtaking views. Beyond my expectation.

Several parties of hikers were on the summit. On the hike up, we encountered many hikers — going up and coming down. I didn't bother to try to count, but it was in the dozens.

Mt. Baldy
Looking southeast toward Mt. Baldy (10,064) from Baden-Powell. View large photo.
We decided to walk down the south ridge about 100 yards to find a shady spot to have lunch. There was a a nice log in the shade of limber pine which provided a great spot. We dinned while enjoying incredible views of Mt. Baldy and the deep abyss of Mine Gulch and the East Fork San Gabriel River. More Hikers arrived. And more. Enjoyed our visiting with some of them.

We were treated by a graceful sailplane, which in an eerie quietness, began to circle the summit. It was close enough so that we could exchange waves with the two occupants. We watched with delight as the plane rode the breezes like a huge white bird.

Lots of pesky gnats. (Three different hikers who were coming down while we were going up warned us of the bugs on the summit.) The pests really didn't bother me as much they did the others. None of us had repellent.

Using binoculars, we identified various landmarks in the populated San Gabriel Valley to the South. The L.A. skyline was visible but very faint in the haze. Beyond massive Mt. Baldy to the east was the distant San Gorgonio Mountain (11,499 - highest peak in Southern California), and Mt. San Jacinto (10,804).

To the distant south in Orange County we could see Saddleback (Modjeska Pk. 5496 and Santiogo Pk. 5687) poking above the haze. And to the south we could see all the way to Catalina Island, also rising above the haze.

The expansive desert to the north was dulled by a brownish haze, but still offered a striking sight. To the northeast, miles away, I could see the dry lake guarding the western gateway to Lucerne Valley where I used to live.

To the west, Throop Peak and Hawkins Ridge summoned me to hike them on a future outing. To the east, Blue Ridge, Pine Mt. and Dawson also called to me. Baldy always calls to me.

The sun was warm but the breezes nice. Drew and Stephen took a nap in the shade. Pete had a nice conversation with a Russian couple. More hikers came and left. Most of the hikers have been to this summit multiply times.

I shuffled around to various vantage points within 20 or 30 feet of our lunch spot and could identify nearly every peak I could see, many of which I've climbed. And armed with my topo maps, I spied out an array of topographical features of the surrounding mountains.

Without a warning the sailplane would return, whooshing overhead.

It was easy to spend hours on this splendid mountain. Finally we decided to pack up and head out.

As we strolled back up toward the summit point, we met a young man named Jason, from San Diego. He was backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail — started at the Mexican border and going as far as Aqua Dulce. He took a picture of the four of us posing by the monument. Jason walked us over to where his gear was and gave use an orientation to the ingenious innovations of utltralight backpacking.

I enjoyed visiting with a couple who just arrived at the summit, exchanging hiking stories and pointing out familiar landmarks below.

Finally, again, we decided it was time to go. Jason packed up his stuff up and headed down with us.

2:50 - Left summit, 3 hours and 20 minutes after arriving!

Wally Waldon Tree 2:54 / 3:04 - Junction. Posed for photos at the Wally Waldon Tree. We said our good-byes to Jason, who was heading west on the PCT to spend the night at Little Jimmy, more than 5 miles away.

3:52 / 4:02 - Lamel Spring junction. We walked the 200 steps to see the spring. Not impressive but Jason says the water tastes great. I was puzzled because the junction sign put the spring at 1/4 mile. So maybe the main spring is further.

4:25 / 4:38 - Switchback #5. Bench. Visited with couple coming from the summit.

4:55 - Trailhead - After exactly 8 hours from the start. We were all tired but felt great satisfaction for having experienced such a great hike.

5:10 - Drove away from trailhead, head east toward Wrightwood. Stopped for gas. It's 7.5 miles from the gas station in Wrightwood to the I-15. We stopped for more gas and enjoyed burgers at McDonalds.

6:30 - Got on the I-15 and joined the crowds heading home from a long weekend. Traffic wasn't too bad going through the Cajon Pass. And once we transitioned unto the new 210 Foothill Freeway extension, we sailed all the way back to Azusa.

7:20 - Home icon

Hike Log
Mt. Baden-Powell
5-31-04

8:55 AM A: Trailhead - Vincent Gap (6593')
9:25 B: Bench - switchback 5
9:50/9:55 C: Spring junction
11:28 D: PCT Junction
11:35/2:50 E: Mt. Baden-Powell (9399')
Yes, spent 3 hours here
2:54/3:05 D: PCT Junction
3:52/4:02 C: Spring junction
4:25/4:38 B: Bench - switchback 5
4:55 am A: Trailhead - Vincent Gap (6593')
Switchbacks
Looking north up to a switchback.

Related links on Dan's Hiking Pages:

Other Trail Notes:

  • Parking - A National Forest Adventure Pass is required.
  • High point - Mt. Baden-Powell (9399') stands higher than the highest points in 37 states. See United States State High Points from peakbagger.com. Mt. Baden-Powell (8985') is the 4th highest peak in the San Gabriels [not counting Harwood (9552') and West Baldy (9988') which are bumps on Mt. Baldy's ridge]:
    - Baldy (10,064')
    - Pine (9648')
    - Dawson (9575')
    - Baden-Powell (9399')

Trail Links:

Books:
  • Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels - by John Robinson (Wilderness Press: Berkley). Hike 81: "Vincent Gap to Mt. Baden-Powell" - Good trail descriptions with historical background. 8.0 miles.

  • Afoot and Afield in Los Angeles County - by Jerry Schad (Wilderness Press: Berkley). Area A-13, Trip 1: "Mount Baden-Powell Traverse." Presents an alternative route: One way from Dawson Saddle and ending at Vincent Gap. 9.2 miles, 2400'/3700' elevation gain and loss. Good trail descriptions with historical background. In Top Trails Los Angeles (Wilderness Press: Berkley, March 2004), Trail 31: "Mount Baden-Powel," he presents the trip as an out-and-back, 7.6 miles (contrary to all the published accounts of 8.0).
Last Hiked: May 31, 2004 (from Vincent Gap)
Last Hiked: September 3, 2011 (from Dawson Saddle)


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This page was last updated September 8, 2011.

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