Here’s a close-up image of a bough of Limber Pine (pinus flexilis) taken near the summit of Mount Baden-Powell. Some of these trees found high, about 9,000′ elevation, on this mountain slope in the eastern San Gabriel mountains range in age from 1,500 – 2,500 years. Look for needles numbering five within each sheath, smallish cones and white, cordlike branches that are very flexible. The trees are not terribly tall and sometimes appear shrubby and very wind bent.
The Mount Baden-Powell hike is featured in the Trails of Wrightwood – Big Pines Map, as well as 19 other trail hikes in the surrounding area. The map is hand-drawn on weather-proof map paper. Unfolded, it measures 19″ x 28″, giving a clear sense of how many of the trails are laid out in this part of the eastern San Gabriel Mountains high-country. Contour lines have been purposely omitted, presenting a clear and uncluttered appearance. Just click on www.hikewrightwood.net to see details. Late summer and fall are both good times of the year to hike up this beautifully forested mountainside.
Joanie Kasten framed between two ancient limber pines as she nears the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell.
You start out at Vincent Gap on the Angeles Crest Highway in an area of red soil, sort of like a color you’d see in New Mexico. In 38 switchbacks you’ll climb 2,800′ to the top of the windswept summit. Less than half way up, make sure to stop at Lamel Spring and check out native wildflowers, such as Shooting Stars and Crimson Monkey flowers.
About 2/3 of the way up to Mount Baden-Powell, you can see a smoke cloud behind East Blue Ridge. We thought that the fire might be near Wrightwood, however, it was way down on the I-15 Freeway in the Cajon Pass. Notice the deer brush and Lodgepole pines in the foreground.
One of the great reasons to do this hike is to experience forest transition the whole way up. Start your hike out in scrub oak and lots of jeffrey pine. Soon, you’ll be experiencing stately sugar pines with their long, glistening cones hanging from the tips of broad horizontal branches. Next, you’ll travel through stands of lodgepole, nearly perfectly straight in stature, with a myriad of tiny cones covering the forest floor at their base. As you near the summit, start to look for the ancient limber pines, which have been buffeted by the storms of wind, rain and snow for centuries. In some cases, 2,500 years! Whatever your reasons for doing the Mount Baden-Powell hike, you’re sure to to enjoy majestic panoramas of the Mojave Desert to the north along with a view of the rugged peaks of Pine Mountain, Dawson Peak and Mount Baldy to the east. Come back refreshed.
Here’s a view looking out toward the Mojave Desert. Photo was taken just below the summit of Mount Baden-Powell under the shade of an ancient limber pine in the late afternoon. Notice the trail sign in the foreground, marking the intersection of the P C T (Pacific Crest Trail) and the final few switchbacks to the summit.