Mt. Baldy, the highest peak in Los Angeles County and also known officially as Mount San Antonio, is known for its skiing in the winter. But when the snow melts, those ski runs turn into hiking trails.
If you’re not up to the daunting task of tackling Baldy’s peak at 10,069 feet, a trip the opposite way to Thunder Mountain is a moderate hike that still has fantastic views at just over 3 miles round-trip with a 800-900 foot elevation gain.
The trail is a wide road littered with rocks that serves as a ski run during the winter. Once at the top, a ski shack with a deck is a great place to stop and enjoy the views. The return trip is an easy gradual decline back to Baldy Notch, and the restaurant there is decent but overpriced.
Thunder Mountain is one of the “Three T’s” collected by LA-area hikers, including nearby Telegraph Peak and Timber Mountain.
Directions: From the 210 freeway, take the Mountain Avenue exit and head north. Mountain Avenue will loop west and connect with Mt. Baldy Road again heading north. Follow this about 7 miles (you’ll go through the small touristy town of Mt. Baldy around mile 4) until you reach the parking lot for the Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts. Round-trip tickets are $20 for adults with special rates for kids and seniors. Or you can hike up the mountain below the ski lifts; this adds about 1300 feet in elevation gain and turning this into a strenuous hike.