The Icehouse Canyon Trail, which ultimately climbs to Icehouse Saddle, is a beautiful and challenging trail that climbs to a less-than-climactic endpoint. Icehouse Saddle is a fork to several other trails, including trails to Ontario Peak, Bighorn Peak, Cucamonga Peak, Thunder Mountain, and even Mount Baldy for the very intrepid hikers.
Beginning in a shady canyon following a stream that varies from gentle to torrential, the trail up Icehouse Canyon traces a lush environment, passing several cabins and stone remains from previous cabins left damaged following flash floods, landslides and fires. The route then climbs from the canyon floor to the rocky mountainside and enters the Cucamonga Wilderness, where views of the paths carved out by flash floods open up near the massive boulders that have been washed down the mountain into these channels.
The second portion of the hike approaches the saddle in a series of switchbacks for the final 1,100 feet of gain. The trail then enters into alpine flora as it reaches the saddle that sits at about 7,600 feet in elevation.
The trail is well-worn because it is a route for hikers attempting several of the high country peaks or others just out hiking the canyon with no particular turnaround point in mind. You may see quite a few other hikers during the busier seasons.
The Chapman Trail intersects with the Icehouse Canyon Trail at two different points, both of which are clearly signed. This route may be worth looking into for those wanting to vary the scenery of their return hike or who may be interested in setting up camp at the Cedar Glen Backcountry Camp, which sits along the Chapman Trail.
Icehouse Saddle itself is simply a weathered sign and a couple of downed trees that are great spots to sit down and catch your breath. Trail signs mark the destinations and distances of the trails that branch off from this point.
A free wilderness permit is required to hike the trail past the Cucamonga Wilderness boundary. Wilderness permits, along with Adventure Passes, are available at the Mount Baldy Visitor Center (909.982.2829), though the visitor center seems to keep extremely unreliable and sporadic hours. Mount Baldy Trout Pools, located about a quarter-mile up the hill from the visitor center, also sells Adventure Passes. Wilderness permits are also available at the informational sign located at the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead. Bathrooms, trash and a picnic bench are also available at the trailhead.
Aside from a bar, there are next to no services in Mount Baldy Village. Make sure you pick up all of your supplies before leaving the metro area and heading up the hill.