The Mountains of California •
Mount Baden-Powell • San Gabriel Mountains
• Angeles National Forest
• Los Angeles County

Mt Baden-Powell from Hwy-2 early in the morning

Steep slopes and distant desert

The forest of the upper slopes

The summit finally appears around a bend

The last narrow ridge

The 'Waldron' Tree, an old Bristlecone

And the sign

Baden-Powell memorial near the top

The bare summit

The peak again in midafternoon sunlight

Date: May 10, 2007 • Elevation: 9,399 feet • Prominence: 2,799 feet • Distance: 8 miles • Time: 4 hour and 30 minutes • Gain: 2,800 feet • Conditions: Dry, breezy and warm


Mount Baden-Powell is a highly-prominent mountain of the Sierra Madre, but it is nearly hidden from the millions of eyeballs in the Los Angeles suburbs. The peak lies farther north in the range, near the town of Wrightwood. It can be seen looking up the valleys from Claremont, La Verne and Glendora, but this assumes that the sky isn't clogged by smoggy haze. The peak is a waypoint along the Pacific Crest Trail, and has a good trail to its top. It is a popular hiking destination, so it can get crowded. The parking area at the trailhead is quite large.

I drove out from Arizona to spend a couple days hiking peaks in the Transverse Mountains north of Los Angeles. The day prior, I visited my brother's family and his kids, then slept on their couch, intending to be gone before dawn. When I awoke, I was deeply chagrined to discover my throat was sore and swollen. I felt lethargic, too. Clearly, I caught a cold. I had driven this far, so I decided to give the peak my best shot. I bought throat spray and gum, hoping for the best.

I drove Interstate-15 to state route CA-138 to the Wrightwood junction at CA-2, then through Wrightwood itself and another ten miles to the big Vincent Gap parking area and trailhead, arriving just after dawn. I was the first to arrive today, a mild surprise. I assumed a dozen cars would already be here. I sat in my truck for a little while, mainly to see how I felt. Around 8 a.m., I started the hike. I was looking at 4 miles one way and about 2,800 feet of gain.

The first two-thirds of the hike follows the trail as it makes about 25 switchbacks, all of it in moderate forest cover with minimal views. I went slow and tried to pace myself. I chewed on gum to moisten my throat. Generally, I felt okay, but barely. My energy levels were decent.

I kept to the task of hiking and would only stop for views occasionally, since there were none. But the higher I got, the better the views (and the thinner the forest cover). I started getting better views north into the Mojave Desert. After about two hours, the gradient lessened while the trail started to gain up the slope directly, working its way to the ridge that leads to Baden-Powell's summit.

Here, the views were amazing. The summit came into sight, while the trail passed by impressive bristlecone (and other) pines in a section called the "catwalk", where the slopes drop steeply on both sides. The forest cover was very thin and the top, interestingly, was bare of trees.

I arrived on top about 10:15 a.m. and took a well-earned break to relax and look around me. I had million-dollar views in all directions, the day being blue and clear. The peak is named for Sir Thomas Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts. There were simple plaques up here. I had not seen a single hiker on my ascent hike, and after about 20 minutes, I started the hike down.

The hike down went fast and by now, others were on the trail. They'd say "hi" to me and all I could do was croak out some guttural noise from my raspy throat. I was back to my truck a little after noon, and from here, drove down into Palmdale. In Palmdale, I stopped for a lunch and feeling like utter crap, decided to get a hotel room and try to sleep off my virus. Fourteen hours later I was awake again, ready for day two of my hiking sojourn. Burnt Peak was up next.

(c) 2007, 2019 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.