There are a few ways to summit Sunset Peak in Mt Baldy. This route is slightly shorter but more challenging (and fun!) than the fire road route. It is also the route I offer through my guided hikes.
If you are interested in a moderate route, please refer to this post instead as the route I am about to share is considered Moderate to Challenging.
Sunset Peak is in the Angeles National Forest. To park and hike in the ANF, you need a Forest Adventure Pass for your vehicle.
Xena and I arrived at the Sunset Peak Trailhead #1 around 7 AM on Sunday and found a parking spot in front of the yellow gate. The temperature was in the chilly 50s due to the thick layer of clouds even though it was early May. We began the hike behind the yellow gate on Sunset Ridge Fire Road.
Pretty soon, we left the cold foggy, and misty condition behind and were above the clouds.
When the trail split after 1.9 miles, we turned left.
After 0.6 miles, Sunset Ridge Fire Rd continues to the right, and you will see an uphill on the left. Take this hill instead. It’s called Sunset Peak Shortcut. This 0.3-mile section is a steep incline, and some scrambling and rock climbing are required in this section.
This shortcut shaves off 0.7 miles from the total distance. Xena and I like this route better than the fire road because it’s fun and has a spectacular view, clouds or not.
The next two photos were taken during a guided hike, so I can show you how the shortcut section looks on a clear day.
The cities were gloomy under the clouds but not where we were!
Sunset Peak Shortcut ends at Sunset Peak Ridge Rd. Turn left here. Sunset Peak is only 0.1 miles away from this junction.
Sunset Peak sits at 5,796 feet, and it’s mostly exposed.
When you are ready, you can go back the way you came up and make the hike shorter or take the fire road to the trailhead and skip the steep downhill shortcut. That’s what we do to be kind to our knees. Either way, the views from the trail are fantastic!
I recommend doing this hike with your pup early in the morning to avoid overheating.
Have fun and be safe out there!
Good to Know:
- Hike Date: 5.2.21
- Distance: 6.6 miles RT
- Elevation Gain: 1,253 ft.
- Difficulty Level: Moderate-Challenging
- Max Altitude: 5,796 ft.
- Fee/Permit: Forest Adventure Pass
- Trailhead: 34.228027, -117.670493
- Notable: Spectacular views, summit, rocky, partly shaded, out and back, no restroom