Endless Opportunities Exist in Icehouse Canyon Near Mount Baldy

This week's hike explores the Icehouse Canyon area in the Mount Baldy region.

As the temperatures begin to rise in the Los Angeles area, people also begin looking for places to gain relief from the heat. One great place to cool off is Icehouse Canyon. Icehouse Canyon is a unique, yet well-traveled hiking spot, located one-mile north of Mount Baldy Village.

The hiking trail that originates at the Icehouse Canyon parking lot follows a fast-flowing yet incredibly serene creek. Scattered throughout the first mile of the hike are unusual stone cabin ruins, left over from a fire over 30 years ago. After a little over a mile, the smell of cedar and pine trees becomes even more intoxicating. The trail also starts to pick up a bit of elevation here. There is a split in the trail, marked by a sign that indicates the Chapman Trail. Most people continue straight into the deeper recesses of Icehouse Canyon.

After two and a half miles in lies Columbine Spring, the last water year-round water source on this trail. The water at Columbine Spring tastes like the nectar of the gods on a hot day. Past Columbine Spring, the trail ascends long, steeper switchbacks for a mile and a half through pine groves, ultimately leading up to Icehouse Saddle, an incredible picnic area and rest stop.  

Icehouse Canyon offers hiking for all. For the family in search of a fun day in nature, the first 50 yards of this trail may suffice. For the amateur day-hiker, a 7.2 mile round trip up to Icehouse Saddle provides a blend of scenic beauty and physical challenge. The more advanced hiker can go past Icehouse Saddle and reach Bighorn Peak, Cucamonga Peak, Ontario Peak, or the Three Tees Trail, which tops Timber, Telegraph, and Thunder Mountains. Even a person in search of an overnight backpacking experience can enjoy Icehouse Canyon by traveling to Cedar Glen (via the Chapman Trail, 5 miles roundtrip) or Kelly Camp (1 mile past Icehouse Saddle).  

Hike At A Glance:

Difficulty (1-10):  6
Distance 7.2 miles roundtrip to Icehouse Saddle (in and back) Scenery The view varies;; You will experience mostly creekside and pine forest views, with an outstanding canyon view at the top.
Best time to go:

April – December (snow/ice in the winter)

Trail condition: The well-marked trail is very easy to follow. Other considerations: There are water sources for the first 2 miles of this hike, as long as you filter the water. Also, when entering the Cucamonga Wilderness (where Icehouse Saddle lies), the rangers ask that you obtain a free permit if possible from the Mount Baldy Visitor Center. The permit helps the rangers to keep track of how much traffic is entering Cucamonga Wilderness. Getting there:

Take the 210 to Mountain and go north. Follow Mountain all the way into Baldy Village. Turn right about a mile or so past the Village onto the street marked “Ice House Canyon Road." Be sure to display your Adventure Pass in your parked car ($5 for a day or $30 for a year at REI or most other sporting goods stores).

Bob Dollins May 08, 2011 at 03:27 PM
IHC is a great hike. Gives you a taste of hiking at altitude. Not a walk in the park but also not K2. Anyone doing this hike should be prepared (ie. the "10 Essentials" for day-hiking") To see my website about this hike click on link below: http://hikertechnologies.com/icehouse_cyn.htm
Matthew Cavanaugh May 09, 2011 at 02:47 AM
awesome website, bob! and i totally agree...the 10 essentials are...essential!
Janie Duncan May 09, 2011 at 11:47 PM
A little know Mt. Baldy geology fact. There is a small deposit of lapis lazuli on the hill side there. It is just to steep to get to. Have you had lunch at the Buckhorn Lodge? The inside is full of history of the area. Betty Borrow who is a longtime Monrovian and is now in her 80"s was born and raised at Mt. Baldy where her father was the horse wrangler for the tourist camp. Almost all of the original buildings and the dance hall were destroyed in a flash flood in the 1930's. The man who had build the tourist trap was the same man who had run the tourist trade at Yosemite and was asked to leave so he relocated to Mt. Baldy. Mt. Baldy is my favorite day trip!
dmchook February 07, 2013 at 08:44 PM
Just did this trail yesterday. We have always passed it by for San Antonio Falls trail, but it is a gem! Save the gas and hike this trail. Very picturesque with cabins along a nicely maintained trail. We got a late start and only went about 2 miles before turning back, but next time will be to the saddle!


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