When you think of the mountains in California, you might not think of the local mountains in Los Angeles. Most people will think of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range first and rightfully so. I mean, the Sierra Nevadas are by far, the most grandeur mountain range in California. With parks like Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon calling the Sierra Nevadas their home.
Believe me, I have been to all of the parks and plan to talk extensively about the Sierra Nevadas in the future. I’d like to talk about the mountain ranges that are maybe less known to tourists. There are mountain ranges in Los Angeles that are easy daytrips and have a lot of things to offer. While, it’s not the Sierra Nevadas, they are pretty spectacular in itself and very easy to get to, which makes it that much more enjoyable. Here are a few of my favorite local mountains and the activities you can do when visiting..
You always notice, when flying into Southern California, a big mountain peak. It may be snow capped in the winter and it’s usually bald during the summer That mountain peak is called Mount San Antonio, or more commonly known to locals as Mount Baldy.
Located just 45 miles away from Los Angeles, Mount San Antonio is the highest peak, at more than 10,000 ft. in the San Gabriel Mountains. It’s considered the highest point in Los angeles County, in fact. The peak is pyramid shaped, with a very steep south face, called the Baldy Bowl. The north face is more shallow.
There are many activities to do on Mount Baldy. There are great winter activities that’s very popular with the local snow bunnies. There are also some spring/summer activities that attracts a different crowd. Considered to be as fun and maybe even more adventurous, than you would think.
Mount Baldy Ski – Closest ski resort in Southern California. 400 acres accessible, with 26 trails and 4 ski lifts. The vertical rise is 2,100 ft. Perfect for skiers and snowboarders. Terrain is 20% each for beginner runs, advanced runs and expert runs. 40% for intermediate runs.
While not considered the best skiing, its quick to get to from anywhere in Southern California. Other activites include snow tubing and winter hiking. The winter season at Mt. Baldy is from Dec 20 to March 29, approximately.
Hiking – While skiing at Mount Baldy isn’t really considered the best in Southern California, hiking SoCal’s iconic peak is completely the opposite. Hiking Mount Baldy is considered to be the absolute best, by many, in Southern California.
A very popular hike is the Mount Baldy/San Antonio Loop. It’s not for the faint of heart, however. Its a 11 mile strenuos loop, with nearly 4,000 feet of vertical gain to the 10,064 summit of Baldy.
One of the most interesting and maybe challenging part of this hike is when you get to the Devil’s Backbone. This part of the hike consists of sheer drops on both sides, while hiking uphill. You’ll feel like you’re hiking up a backbone of a dinosaur or something. The challenge is worth it, though. The views are super spectacular!
This hike is recommended mostly for the experienced hiker. However, if you’re not an experienced hiker, you can do the beginning parts of the hike and turn around when you want. The views are pretty incredible from all around. You can start at the parking lot or cheat and take the ski lifts, which makes for a fun beginning.
San Antonio Falls – A 75 foot tall multi-tier waterfall. Usually carries water year round, but no so much, during a drought. The waterfall naturally swells in late winter and early spring, when the snow from the top of Mount Baldy melts. This hike to the San Antonio Falls is an easy .6 miles up a paved road to dirtpath that leads down to the falls. It’s a nice 1.4 roundtrip walk, for the whole family to enjoy.
Other great things to do at Mount Baldy are things like, taking the ski lifts and having lunch at The Top of The Notch Restaurant, or packing a lunch and picnicking. There’s also camping in tent bungalows available, at 7,000 ft! There’s mountain biking that riders of all levels can enjoy.
Have you ever Disc Golfed? Well, you can try it on a course located up on Mt. Baldy and it’s free. Beautiful view included! There’s also some great musical festivals that are held during the summertime and other events, as well. You can find all the info at mtbaldyskilifts.com.
Santa Monica Mountains
This gorgeous mountain range is one of my favorite areas in Southern California. It’s close to Los Angeles, but when you’re there, you’d never know or feel it. The Santa Monica Mountain range reaches all the way down to the Pacific Ocean, too!
There are many individual parks located in the Santa Monica Mountains, with over 500 trails to explore on. You can run, hike and bike here. You can camp, rock climb and go for a horseback ride. Picnicking and wine tasting is a must! Here are some fun things to do..
Solstice Canyon Trail – Considered an easy, family friendly trail. A very popular hike that starts at the main parking area to the waterfall and Roberts Ranch ruins. The trail gently rises and follows a creek through an oak and sycamore forest. 2.1 mile round trip. Located from Pacific Coast Hway, turn inland on Corral Canyon Road. Drive quater mile to park entrance on left, Malibu 90265
Mishe Mokwa Trail to Split Rock – A moderate. 3.5 mile round trip hike. Beautiful trail that offers amazing views of Carlisle Canyon and the well known Balanced Rock. There’s a shaded picnic area at Split Rock’s oak grove. Trail head starts at Circle X Ranger Station, 12896 Yerba Buena Road, Malibu 90265
Backbone Trail – Strenuous 65 mile, one way hike. This very long trail consists of Singletrack and Fire Roads. Named Backbone Trail because the trail follows the spine of the Santa Monica Mountains. It goes from Will Rogers Historic Park in Pacific Palisades to Point Mugu State Park. There are areas where, mountain biking, horseback riding and dogs are allowed. Camping is not allowed, however. Completing this hike will take several day trips.
There are some beautiful horseback riding approved trails in the Santa Monica Mountains. Whether you ride your own horse or rent a horse through, you can enjoy one hour rides, to all day rides, to overnight camping rided. You can ride on your own or go on organized rides. Here are some organizations that offer great horseback riding excursions..
- Malibu Riders – Located at Paramount Ranch. 2903 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills 91301
- Connemara Ranch – 34342 Mulholland Highway, Malibu 90265
- Los Angeles Horseback Riding – 2623 Old Topanga Canyon Road, Topanga 90290
- Park Place Stable – 20135 Decker School Lane, Malibu 90265
- Mill Creek Equestrian Center – 1881 Old Topanga Canyon Road, Topanga 90290
**Rock Climbing spots and wine-tasting rooms recommendations coming soon!!