Hikes Using This Road
Links To Further Information
This "dirt" road constructed in ~1894 connects Stockton Flat Public Campground on the Lytle Creek Road to Baldy Notch in the eastern San Gabriel Mountains. The road surface is mostly gravel-sized and larger rocks, hence the quotes around the "dirt" description used by Robinson.
This road was built by the Hocumac Company to service the 14 gold mines owned by them, and replaced a wagon road constructed in 1883 from Lytle Creek to Baldy Notch along Coldwater Canyon to reach the Banks (Gold) Mine. The new road was a vast improvement - wagons had to be lowered by winch on one part of the wagon road. These roads were the only access to Baldy Notch at the time.
The Banks Mine used hydraulic power to separate gold from sand and gravel in a gully just south of Baldy Notch. Hocumac was an Omaha-based Company named with the beginning letters of the three owners Holcomb, Cushion and Mackay.
Source: The San Gabriels, John Robinson, pp. 64-68.
The attractions of the Stockton Flat - Baldy Notch Road are:
- The access to this road is via Lytle Canyon Road, which travels along the San Jacinto Fault in the North Fork of Lytle Creek up through Pine - Wright Mountain saddle.
- Good views of the end of the Blue Ridge, and its continuation, Lytle Creek Ridge, both fault slices between the Punchbowl/San Jacinto Faults and the San Andreas Fault. The PCT is easily seen traversing Lytle Creek Ridge.
- Lytle Creek is an impressive wash, different from most of the rest of the San Gabriel Mountains.
- Good views of the north side of Baldy Notch and Coldwater Canyon.
- There are several exposures of metamorphosed sedimentary rocks along the road, showing clear layers.
- The history of the road.
- The grade of the road is nearly optimum for ascending at this altitude for me, making for a pleasant hike.
John Robinson in The San Gabriels, pp. 65-67, tells the story of a dramatic food delivery in June, 1884 when four miners and their families were trapped at Baldy Notch by a severe late-season storm:When word reached the Pomona Valley, a relief part of 17 men was organized, each man carrying 25 pounds of supplies for the marooned families. Bucking deep snowdrifts and felling trees to cross swollen streams, they struggled for three days to reach Baldy Notch. There, they found the snow-bound men, women and children were passing from cabin to cabin through tunnels within ten-foot snowdrifts, and their food supplies had dwindled to ten pounds of rice.
Think about that trip as you drive to the beginning of the road in the comfort of your car!
The only detractions are the following. The access via Lytle Creek Road is via a slow (10-15 mph) gravel road. Further, the access is controlled by a gate that is only open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in at least parts of the year, limiting one's hiking options that involve leaving a car at Stockton Flats. The views are not as impressive as are found on many neighboring roads, and the scenery is similar along the entire hike.
Maps: The road is shown on the USGS 7.5' x 7.5' Telegraph Peak topo map and on the Forest Service Angeles National Forest Map.
Season: June to October.
Roadheads and directions to roadheads: Stockton Flat Public Campground (6,015') is the only roadhead reachable by car. The other end is Baldy Notch (7,802'), which can be reached by hiking the San Antonio Falls Road from Manker Flat or by taking the Ski Lift (see Baldy Notch to Thunder, Telegraph, Timber Mtns., Icehouse Saddle, Icehouse Canyon).
To get to Stockton Flat, take the Sierra Avenue Exit of I-15, about 5 miles north of SR30. Go north on Sierra Avenue, which quickly turns into Lytle Creek Road, for 9.5 miles to the end of the paved road just beyond Lytle Creek Village. This section takes about 16 minutes driving time due to 25 mph speed limits in the Village. Just before the end of the pavement is a gate that is open only 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. which in fact was only unlocked around 8:15 a.m. on 11/28/99.
My 1983 Honda Station Wagon had no trouble negotiating the gravel road for the next 4.1 miles, taking 19 minutes, to the next gate that is open only 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Unfortunately, the gate was not unlocked until 9:20 a.m. on 11/28/99.
If the gate is locked, you have no choice except to park along the road outside of the gate and hike from that point, or wait to see if the gate will be unlocked. From that gate, it is 1.7 miles with 800' altitude gain to the beginning of the Stockton Flat - Baldy Notch Road. The total distance to the beginning of that road from I-15 is thus 15.3 miles, not the 16.5 miles quoted by Robinson.
Because the road gets worse beyond the gate, and because this second gate closes one hour earlier than the first gate, you may be at least 15 minutes better off by parking outside the second gate in any case, since the 1.7 downhill miles can easily be hiked in 45 minutes or less. You will also save the ~10 minutes required to drive the 1.7 miles.
Beyond that second gate, it is 0.65 miles and 300' to the turnoff for Stockton Flat Campground, marked only by blazes on two trees. The turnoff not marked, but it is the more traveled road and you may not even notice you have turned into the Campground road. The Campground road is marginal for travel by regular vehicles, so even if you have driven past the second gate you may choose to park here and walk the remaining 1.05 miles.
Length: 3.9 miles according to topo!, which should be fairly accurate. Robinson quotes 4 miles. Walking from the second gate makes the total one-way length 5.6 miles.
Elevation Changes: The elevation difference between Stockton Flat Public Campground (6,015') and Baldy Notch (7,802') is 1,787', and the Stockton Flat - Baldy Notch Road has a pretty steady grade up. Robinson rounds this up to 2,000' of elevation gain for some reason.
If you hike from the second gate, the total elevation gain becomes 2,582'.
Road Condition: The road is in excellent shape for hiking.
Road Maintenance: Probably via bulldozer.
History: Road constructed ~1894, and probably bulldozed semi-regularly. See above for more history.
This description begins at the second gate. The road crosses the North Fork of Lytle Creek and heads west to Stockton Flat near the bottom of the cliffs to the south. At 0.65 miles (5,522'), the road forks, marked only by blazes on two trees, two wide bands of color around their trunks. Take the left branch, the most-traveled one, which leads to Stockton Flat along the bottom of the western face of the same cliffs. You'll see picnic tables, minor roads and campsites on the left, not marked on the topo map, but stay on the main road which travels next to the large wash on your right.
The campground road forks at the base of the cliffs in front of you (6,012'). The left branch leads immediately to the gated Stockton Flat - Baldy Notch Road, with a parking area just before the gate, 1.7 miles from the start. The right branch continues up the canyon for a ways.
The Road climbs steadily south and east along the cliffs until it is in Coldwater Canyon and heads generally southwestward. At 4.0 miles (~7,060'), the road switchbacks nearly 180°, and is only 0.35 air miles from Baldy Notch. At 4.5 miles (~7,250'), another nearly 180° switchback resumes the original heading and direct contouring toward Baldy Notch. Note the beautifully-layered rock along this part of the road.
Baldy Notch (7,802') is reached at 5.6 miles from the second gate, 3.9 miles from the start of the Road.
Detailed Trip Log
This log gives the mileage and time to features along the road from Vincent Gap, along with their altitude. The mileage is from TJC's pedometer reading, adjusted only to remove an extra excursion of 0.5 miles in Stockton Flat. The total mileage of 11.02 miles agrees very well with the 11.2 miles measured from topo!. The mileages are thus probably accurate only to 0.1 mile, but are given to 0.01 mile to prevent adding rounding errors.
Times are from the start of the hike. Your times may be shorter if you are less affected by altitude than I am. The altitudes are from the topo map, for features that could clearly be identified there, and from my adjusted altimeter reading for other locations.
# Mileage Time From Start Altitude Comments 0 0.00 0:00 5220 Second Gate on Lytle Creek Road 1 0.90 0:27 5600 Road to picnic tables 2 1.00 0:31 5625 Second Road 6 1.72 1:06 6000 6012' junction. Left 7 1.75 1:08 6012 Parking just before gate. 8 3.75 2:23 7060 First major switchback 9 5.25 3:23 7802 Baldy Notch 10 5.50 3:36 7800 20 minute lunch on log at Baldy Notch after walking around 11 9.25 5:30 6012 Gate 12 11.02 6:16 5220 Car
Hikes Using This Road
When available, the date of the information is given in parentheses for each link.
94 Stockton Flat Public Campground to Baldy Notch, T. Chester (28Nov99)
Trails of the Angeles, John W. Robinson, Seventh Edition, September 1998, #94, Stockton Flat Public Campground to Baldy Notch, p. 170. (??)
Links To Further Information
See the following three pictures from Anthony Sebestyen's Photo Gallery page:
Copyright © 1999 by Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 27 December 1999.