WOW Factor
Difficulty
$ Investment
Gear
Solitude
4.6Editor's Overall Rating
How Does This Rating System Work?

Mount Baldy Overview

Mount Baldy is the second tallest peak in Arizona aside from Humphreys Peak and its neighboring San Francisco Peaks. I’ve done alpine hiking in Colorado as well as Switzerland, and the trail to Mount Baldy is reminiscent of those experiences in terms of terrain and foliage; it’s beautiful up top (and a bit bare at times – hence, “Baldy”)! This is one of my favorite summer hikes to pursue in Arizona, pending cooperation from the weather (you don’t want to get caught in a monsoon!). The journey to the top is beautiful. 

Logistics 

The trail to Mount Baldy can be reached from either the East Baldy Trail or the West Baldy Trail; it is about 8 miles one way on both trails. My favorite format for this hike is to go up the East Baldy Trail, down the West Baldy Trail, then take the crosscut trail (3.25 miles) back to the East Baldy Trail (~19 miles for full circuit). If you have others that are not going the entire way and you want to do both trails in a day, you could also arrange rides such that you get dropped at one trail and picked up at the other (West Baldy Trail has some great picnic and hangout areas along the Little Colorado River for the less ambitious to enjoy!). The pin on the map below marks the East Baldy Trail parking lot. 

Whether utilizing the east or west trail, it will be about 8 miles one way up to Mount Baldy. Going up the east trail allows for a relatively more distributed elevation gain (2,250′ overall), whereas the west trail throws the majority of the elevation gain at you near the end of the trail (switchbacks, anyone??? 🙂 ). Which direction you go depends on your preference! If it has been a wet summer, be prepared for portions of the East Baldy Trail to have water running down it; might be muddy! If traveling with a relatively fit group, you can expect to be to the top in about 2.5 hours. More typical summit times will be 3.0-3.5 hours up.

Many hiking books and websites indicate that you should NOT summit Mount Baldy because it is on the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s land and your backpack and gear might risk confiscation if you are found on that trail. I’m not saying someone’s backpack might not have been confiscated at some point in history, but it is really easy to just get a permit from the tribe and do it legally. Contact the Office of the Tribal Chairman (928-338-2500) and kindly request permission to summit baldy; they will ask for names and copies of driver’s licenses of those going and will then issue a letter from the Tribal Chairman granting you (legal) access. 

If interested in camping in the area, there are a multitude of options. For a developed campsite with flush toilets and showers, many pursue the Rainbow Campground at Big Lake. If looking for a bit more rugged camping experience, the Gabaldon Campground is immediately adjacent the East Baldy Trail and actually has a hiking path from the campground that connects to the East Baldy Trail and the crosscut trail can be utilized to reach the West Baldy Trail. You have options!

Gear & Gadgets

If staying in the area already, this can easily be done in a day trip format. Check out my Day Trip Gear Guide for some ideas on what to bring. 

Further Reading

Leave No Trace Principles

Outdoors & Wilderness First Aid

Photograph Gear & Gadgets

US Forest Service – East Baldy Trail

About The Author

Jeremy Meek is a native Arizonan with a passion for adventure and discovery of unique experiences. Whether exploring Arizona or setting out on an adventure abroad, Jeremy is constantly scouting truly great adventures and experiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.