Monday, July 5, 2010

Bear Flat Hike - July 4, 2010

See Bear Canyon Trail To Bear Flat Hike Description on Dan’s Hiking Pages

I decide to celebrate Independence Day by experiencing the freedom of the open trail. I choose Bear Flat above Baldy Village as my destination. It's been five years since I hiked it. The last time it was a 7.5-mile round trip to Bear Flat and beyond. This time is to be a shorter hike to Bear Flat and then explore the ridge to its immediate east.

I sleep in and leisure around before taking off. It is overcast but I know it will be sunny in the mountains. Find a parking space right near the trailhead and begin my hike at 10:55. As I walk up the paved road, I admire the cabins tucked away in this lovely canyon. The creek flows briskly. Dog walks down the road toward me. Not sure if he is friendly so I pick up a stick. He walks up to me, and to my surprise, he grabs the stick out of my hand and walks away with it in his mouth! Dog gone!

11:07 - Road ends and I cross the rustic bridge to the trail. A sign reads "Mt. Baldy Trail. Bear Flat 1.6 mi. Mt. Baldy Summit 6 mi." I stroll along at a leisurely pace soaking in the beautiful setting. There are two places where the trail emerges from the canyon to the mountainside to offer views southeast toward Ontario Ridge and south toward Baldy Village and beyond. Haze mutes the view, but still it is quite striking. Snap pics of flowers along the way. Thick canopy of oak, cedar, fir, pine, and bay provide abundant shade. As the creek and trail draw closer together, I know I am nearing my destination.

11:59 - Arrive at Bear Flat. The creek marks the south edge of the flat. Sign reads "Bear Flats." Oops, someone wrongly added an "s." Oh that Forest Service, bless their hearts. I ponder what natural forces caused this fern-covered bench. The massive ridge towers to my northwest. I meander across the flat toward the north edge looking for a route east to a ridgeline. I've come prepared for some bushwhacking, but the thick blanket of mountain white throne and the burned remains of manzanita pose a daunting barrier.

12:20 - I decide to continue ascending the trail north for a few minutes to get a view down toward Bear Flat to see if I can spot a route. The trail is steep and the sun is warm. The expanding views are breathtaking. I am aware that my time is limited because we are planning to drive to Orange County this afternoon for a July 4th party, but I can't seem to stop as I'm compelled to climb higher and higher. I wonder what year a fire consumed this mountainside. Blacked manzanita branches stick up from the new green growth. I have a good view of Bear Flat now, but still no route is apparent to the east ridge. Finally stop, take some pictures and turn around. Count 8 switchbacks (including the one where I stopped) heading down.

12:58 - Arrive back at Bear Flat and explore around. Met a father and his young son who camped the night there. They have not found a route heading east either. He mentioned they saw 2 rattlesnakes earlier. Good to know. Back at the stream an older couple relaxes and their dog sits in the middle of stream cooling himself. I follow the use path along the south edge of the creek which shortly ends under a huge oak tree. I continue foraging on and pass the location where the creek begins, flowing from out of the ground. I follow the dry creek bed for a few more minutes but realize that to reach the east ridge along this route would be more difficult and time consuming than I am prepared for today. I abort my attempt on the east ridge and head back to the trail.

1:36 - Back to the main trail and begin my walk back. As I saunter along, I carefully scan the east slope to see if there are any routes to the ridge, but the steep, rugged mountainside offers no apparent options. Try to photograph butterflies on the California buckwheat—hard to capture. Took a spur path near cabin 41 to photograph a little water fall.

1:27 - Back to the beginning of the trail. Walk down the paved road to the car. Someone parked behind me making it difficult to maneuver out.

What a splendid hike! This has to be one of the very best short hikes in this area. Great way to spend the 4th of July. Now on to the party. icon

See Bear Canyon Trail To Bear Flat Hike Description on Dan’s Hiking Pages


  1. hi dan, do i need a wilderness pass for this hike? and how do i get there off 10E?

    thank you!

  2. No wilderness pass is needed, but you will need an Adventure Pass to park. Use the address for Mt. Baldy Village Church for directions in google maps: 6757 Bear Canyon Road, Mt Baldy CA 91759-0412

  3. Hi Dan, just started hiking up in Mt Baldy a couple of weeks ago. Done the ice canyon trail to Cedar glen and Cucamonga wilderness. Awesome! Haven't done bear flat tril yet. Is it worth it? Probally is. Stupid question. Thanks, Scott PS: any tips?

  4. I think I know the dog you mentioned. Super friendly doggy.