Our favorite hikes of 2011


Date Hiked:
Best Season: Spring
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  • Difficulty: Easy

On December 30th, Jeff and I met (slightly surpassing) our goal to hike 200 miles in 2011.  We have trekked through some pretty spectacular scenery this past year, all of varying difficulty, topography, climates and ecosystems.  While we don’t regret any of the trails we’ve traversed, some are much more likely to be revisited by on future hikes.

This New Year’s weekend, the two of us agreed upon a handful of hikes that stand out as our absolute favorites of 2011.

Favorite Hikes of 2011

These are listed in no particular order.

Mount San Jacinto via Mountain Station

Mount San Jacinto Summit

Mount San Jacinto Summit

A great 10 mile hike to Mount San Jacinto, the second highest peak in Southern California. It’s not easy, but achievable for anyone in decent condition if you take the route from the Palm Springs Tram. Jeff and I completed this hike on July 2, 2011, and we both agree that this is probably the most diverse beautiful trail we have ever hiked. We plan to do it again in 2012 — bringing friends along this time.

  • Date Hiked: July 2, 2011
  • Distance: 9.85 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,409 feet
  • Kid-Friendly: No (but rare exceptions)
  • Dog-Friendly: No

Mount Baldy via the Notch and Devil’s Backbone

Devil's Backbone

Devil's Backbone

A great hike to a great Southern California peak. This strenuous (6.3 mile, 2,300 ft elevation gain) hike to the the top of Mt Baldy it totally worth it, and is quite popular. We first did this hike in 2009, and repeated it this year with a group of friends. This is one of those super cool fun rugged trails that we would welcome doing every year.

  • Date Hiked: June 18, 2011
  • Distance: 6.34 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,315 feet
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes (if experienced)
  • Dog-Friendly: No (unless you hike up to the Notch)

Mount Baldy Notch Full Moon Hike

Baldy Moonlight Hike

Baldy Moonlight Hike

During the summer months (no snow), the Mt. Baldy Ski Lift runs a Moonlight Hike & BBQ package on the first Friday before the full moon each month. For $20 per person, you get a decent multi-course BBQ dinner at Top of the Notch Restaurant on Mt. Baldy, killer views, and the way cool experience of hiking at night by moonlight.

We couldn’t fit this into our schedule until the final hike of the season (October 7th), so we aren’t planning to publish our write-up until closer to next season (when it’s warmer). But Mt. Baldy announced last week a special date this coming Friday, January 6, 2012. We were freezing cold at the notch the night of October 7th (we had to eat outside because of our dog), so we can only imagine how cold it will be up there this Friday.

  • Date Hiked: October 7, 2011
  • Distance: 4.4 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,352 feet
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes

Ice House Canyon to Timber Mountain

Ice House Canyon

Ice House Canyon

Ice House Canyon is a beautiful hike, and if you do the full loop we did, has a tremendous variety of terrain and scenery. If you’re in halfway decent shape, it’s a great trail! Since Jeff and I started hiking together in 2008, we kept hearing about Ice House Canyon, so we were thrilled to tackle it in 2011 — even though our knees were shot by the end.

  • Date Hiked: June 4, 2011
  • Distance: 11.9 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 3,388 feet
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes (if experienced)
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes

Devil’s Chair via Devil’s Punchbowl

Devil's Chair at Devil's Punchbowl

Devil's Chair at Devil's Punchbowl

A great 7.74 mile dog-friendly hike into a geological wonderland called Devil’s Punchbowl out to the Devil’s Chair, right on top of the San Andreas Fault. Located where the Mojave Desert meets the Angeles National Forest, the rock formations and landscape are amazing, and if you pick up the visitor’s guide at the visitor’s center or research it in advance, quite educational!

  • Date Hiked: April 9, 2011
  • Distance: 7.74 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 622 feet
  • Kid-Friendly: No (unless experienced)
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes

Bonita Falls in Lytle Creek

Bonita Canyon Falls

Bonita Canyon Falls

Bonita Falls on the South Fork of Lytle Creek: A short, but deceivingly difficult, 2.8 mile hike to the 2nd highest waterfall in Southern California. Lots of boulder hopping and some stream crossing leads to a beautiful waterfall less than a mile off the road in the San Bernardino National Forest.

  • Date Hiked: February 21, 2011
  • Distance: 2.8 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 660 feet
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes

Hikes We Wish We’d Done (Again) in 2011

Sure, I can add feats such as Whitney and Half Dome on this list, but those were never realistic options for us — so, why bother. And although they’re on our “in the next couple years” list, we also knew from the start that Santiago Peak, San Gorgornio, and Wilson wouldn’t make our 2011 cut.

But, the following are hikes we either attempted or meant to do, and just didn’t fit into our hiking schedule last year.

  • Bridge to Nowhere: We hiked this super cool spectacular trail in 2009, but the heavy spring rains and high water levels, and then the hot summer temps and thunderstorms kept us away this year. Next year, with friends.
  • Mount Baden Powell: We attempted this beautiful hike in May, but the late heavy snow (up to our thighs, no trail visible) this year forced us to turn back about 1 mile from the summit. And we just never fit it back in before summer temps and thunderstorms kicked in. Next year, with friends.


  1. says

    You both had an excellent year. I have not done any of your favorite hikes, but I have lived them vicariously through you. :) One of these days I would love to do Mt. San Jacinto and Baldy (the night hike looks neat). Happy 2012!

  2. Irene Sudaria says

    Thank you all for this wonderful, detailed blog site. I am 72, retired and just starting to camp (got rockhound fever 4 years ago… really bad). First hubby and current hubby are not into outdoor stuff, so reading all your posts and photos and complete directions (way to go guys !!), I’m heading up to Kaiser Pass Ridge Road after nice talk with Ranger Katie in Prather (checking in tomorrow am.) Again, without this site, I would be clueless. The PHOTOS are just fantastic.

    Thanks again for helping me do my outdoor adventures. ( since retiring, I’ve been to Antarctica; Australia and New Zealand – Jan. 2014 where I bungee jumped (dove) off Kawarau bridge and jumped off Auckland Tower; Galapagos, and a few other neat places to do bucket list stuff, and just love a short van camper trip to escape Fresno heat (106 today) and enjoy our beautiful mountains. THANK YOU… PLEASE KEEP POSTING.

    • Jeff Greene says

      I’m so glad you enjoy our blog! That area is probably my favorite place on Earth, combining amazing geology and visuals with amazingly few people to annoy me! I hope you report back on your experiences!

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