The hike to Bear Flat cuts through Bear Canyon, and is also the start of the strenuous “Old Mount Baldy Trail.” The first 1.8 miles is what gets you to Bear Flat, and is a very steep single-track trek to the meadow. The trail starts of under a canopy of oak and fir trees, but once you get higher up, you wind your way through exposed sections. The hike is perfect if you’re looking for a good workout. The views of the valley below are nice too, when you get to them. As for the Bear Flat meadow itself, it’s full of fern and grass, a good place to let your dog run around for a little bit, but not exactly a “pretty view” after all that schlepping. This one’s more about the journey than the destination. Make sure it’s a cooler day when you go.
A view of the vegetation along the trail.
Our visit on March 4, 2012:
Path: Main road > Bear Canyon Road > Bear Flat Trail > Bear Flat Meadow > Back out
Hiking Time: 3 hours
This trail kicked our butt. All of us were hurting by the time we arrived back at the car. We thought we were just being wimps, until we read other “real” hikers who noted this trek as a “reputable hike.”
Finding the trailhead is tricky, because nothing actually points you to Bear Flat. We needed the assistance of a park ranger, who directed us to follow the sign to Mt. Baldy Trail.
The trail starts by winding through residential homes and a paved road. (And hopping over that fence.)
Very soon, you reach the creek. From the planks, head left to see the water.
Here’s a bit of the creek.
And Miss Britta, modeling for me on one of the rocks.
And here’s her friend, Belle, navigating the boardwalk.
At one point, a rickety rope-and-plank footbridge serves as the only link between a cabin on one side of the creek and the trail on the other. I’ve love to see them hoist a couch across it.
Here’s a visual example of how steep the single-track trail is.
Here’s the first view. We’re still low, but it’s pretty.
And then it starts getting really warm, because we’re out from the oak canopy. Soon after, we hit patches of snow. And then we found a big tree with a hollow trunk. Inside, a rock lit by the sunshine.
Third view. I liked this one.
By the time we reached Bear Flat, we were exhausted. So we filled up on water while the dogs roamed around for a bit. More photos can be found on the Facebook album for this hike.
Last shot: Miss Britta drinking water at the meadow.
So in closing, take this hike if you’re training for the strenuous ones, or need a good workout.
Kim and the gang
– Afoot and Afield in Los Angeles County, Jerry Schad (Angeles Forest: San Antonio Canyon & Old Baldy, Trip # 4)
Other Recommended Reading:
There’s an excellent and informative write-up (including directions, how to find the trailhead, what to expect, etc.) here: http://www.simpsoncity.com/hiking/bearflat.html
Dan’s write-up here: http://danshikingblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/bear-flat-hike-july-4-2010.html
Another write-up here: http://nobodyhikesinla.com/2010/07/28/bear-flat/
There’s also a review of the long Mt. Baldy hike here: http://need2hike.blogspot.com/2009/02/mt-baldy-via-bear-flat-mankar-flat.html