Baden Powell – San Gabriel Mountains

Original Publication DATE: 5/29/2011

On the way south I decided to revisit some of my favorite hikes from when I lived in the San Gabriel Mountains and taught outdoor education. The top on the list was the summit of Mount Baden Powell. Because the summit is 9,399 feet, it is within close proximity of the Pacific Ocean (on the rare smog-free day it is visible), and on the edge of the Mojave Desert there is astounding plant diversity meeting and mixing on the flanks of the mountain. Day one of my journey I climbed the peak and day two I dropped into the San Gabriel River valley within the Sheep Mountain Wilderness to enjoy the lower elevations of Baden Powell’s mastiff. Both were amazing hikes–pictures follow.

The Ascent – Mount Baden Powell

Mt. Baden Powell
The Pacific Crest Trail skirts the ridge and takes in the dramatic views on Baden Powell–the inverted layer of smog above the Los Angeles basin is also visible.

Limber pine (Pinus flexis)
Limber pine (Pinus flexis) on the summit with the Devil’s Backbone ridge in the distance.
This limber pine has been here a long time…
At the junction of the Pacific Crest Trail
At the junction of the Pacific Crest Trail and the Summit Trail one of the most famous southern California trees has taken purchase for thousands of years–notice the mountain has slowly eroded out from beneath it.
Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi)
Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi) also endure along the ridges of Baden Powell.
Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) on the summit.

The Descent – San Gabriel River Country

The target of this hike was to get to know bigcone Douglas-fir–a conifer endemic to the transverse ranges of southern California. I lived with this tree for over 7 years but did not appreciate its dynamic nature at the time. It is a true survivor and a beautiful tree.

Big-cone Douglas
Big-cone Douglas
bigcone Douglas-fir
Pseudotsuga macrocarpa framing Mount Baldy–notice the” hairy limbs” where epicormic shoots are a common because it is adapted to deal with wind and fire.
Dropping into the San Gabriel River Canyon within the Sheep Mountain Wilderness.
On of the many big trees growing in shaded canyons with canyon live oak, incense-cedar, and the occasional sugar pine
That there is a big cone

Conifers of the Baden Powell Region within the San Gabriel Mountains (I think this is quite an impressive list):

  1. Sugar Pine
  2. Lodgepole pine
  3. Ponderosa pine
  4. Jeffrey pine
  5. Limber pine
  6. White fir
  7. Incense-cedar
  8. Bigcone Douglas-fir
  9. Sierra juniper (very rare on Devil’s Backbone)
  10. Coulter pine (lower elevations on edge of Mojave)
  11. California juniper (lower elevations on edge of Mojave)
  12. Singleleaf pinyon (lower elevations on edge of Mojave)
Baden Powell back-lit by a smog-enhanced sunset.

AUTHOR: Gambolin’ Man
DATE: 5/30/2011 5:40:25 PM
Michael, looks like a fantastic hike up that big desert mountain and down into the intriguing river valley. Nice photos and post!