Moonlight Picnic and Hike to Baldy Notch

What could be a better time that to hike with your dog?  Hiking with friends, both old and new, and their dogs to a great spot for a moonlight picnic!  We didn't have a full moon this evening, but what we got at the Notch made up for it.

This hike up to Baldy Notch is easily one of my favorite hikes, if just for the fact that it's not strenuous and you can hike as a group and carry on a conversation.  The trail is actually a fire road, that is still used today, up to the Notch. We started around 6:30pm, but at that time it was still pretty light outside.  Our group consisted of 8 people and their dogs, so there was never a loss of conversation, which made hiking up fast and easy.

It was decided that a moonlight hike was a good idea, since there would be less foot traffic and chances of dealing with hot temperatures would be low.  It was a fabulous time!  I've hike this trail before, and at different times of the day, the same views look different. Dusk was no exception.  I only wished there was a full, or even half moon.  But I'll take the sliver.

I was glad that the wild fire on the other side of the mountain did not affect our air quality.  Additionally, the incoming marine layer from the beach (about an hour drive away due west) gave us a great sunset to look at while we hiked up the mountain.

As we hiked up and turned one of that last bends, I looked up and noticed that the Notch was open. I had thought that it closed at 6pm. Can I say WOW? Not only was the air temperature cool, and not that populated on the trail, but by the time we got up to the Notch Restaurant, we were treated to a really nice outdoor firepit and LIVE music!  By the way, they sometimes offer barbecue on Friday evenings.  Check out their website if you're interested.

We agreed that we would do this hike again, and come up for the barbecue.  Since we had brought our own goodies (fully expecting the Notch to be closed) we ate what we brought...although we did order a batch of chicken strips. Everything about the evening was perfect!  We didn't even mind the hike back down.


To get to the Notch, take the trail from Manker Flats.  On Mt Baldy road, go through Baldy Village, past the parking for Icehouse Canyon. Continue driving on Mt. Baldy road, you will drive some very sharp hairpin turns, so if the sign says 10 miles per hour, they REALLY mean it!  You will know you get to Manker Flats, when road is divided by an island.  You will initially pass the campground, then see a bunch of cars parked along the meridian and on the shoulder.

The trail actually starts as a paved roadway, as there are some houses in this canyon. You will notice it because there are 2 port -o-potties at the gate.  At the end of the paved road is the San Antonio Falls.  From here, the gravel fire road starts. Walk up about 3 miles to the Notch.

Happy Trails!!