Take a day and walk this well-graded four-mile climb on the PCT to the Mount Baden-Powell Spur Trail. From the summit, you’ll see some of my favorite views. It’s a remarkable place: wind blown, desolate, alpine and a hangout for the coolest hikers around.
Leave Vincent Gap (elevation 6,585 ft.) and hike up the switchbacks (please don’t cut them!) crossing a side trail to Lamel Spring at two miles (elevation 7,765 ft.). Continue up the switchbacks for another two miles reaching the Spur Trail to Mount Baden-Powell (elevation 9,245 ft.). Here, branch left off the PCT and head .2 miles up to the 9,339-foot summit.
On a clear day you can see north all the way to the southern Sierra Nevada range. This is a great spot for lunch, a nap or to enjoy the views. Be sure to sign the register at the top and take pictures at the monument on the summit.
For those looking to make this into an overnight, if you continue to the south side of the peak, you will find some flat-ish campsites below tree line. This is a great spot to camp on any night but be ready for extra company if it’s a full moon. Baden-Powell is a popular spot for watching and enjoying the full moon.
Distance: Four miles from Vincent’s Gap to the side trail up to the top plus another .2 mile or so to the top. About 8.4 total miles round trip.
Trailhead driving directions: To get to the Vincent’s Gap Trailhead, proceed west 4.6 miles from the town of Wrightwood, California to the junction of Highway 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) and Big Pine Highway (N4). Bear left (west), staying on Highway 2, reaching Vincent’s Gap in five miles. Vincent’s Gap is a parking area for many trails so be sure you are on the south side of Highway 2 and, obviously, heading up the big hill.
Agency jurisdiction: Angeles National Forest
Permits: An Adventure Pass (or equivalent) is currently required for parking at Vincent’s Gap. You can buy a day pass for $5 or an annual pass for $30 at many local businesses in Wrightwood and at local U.S. Forest Service offices. The Adventure Pass is good for the four Southern California forests.
Special regulations: Please practice Leave No Trace principles, especially at the top when you are above tree line.
Region: Southern California