We did this hike in early October on a partly cloudy day. We probably could've waited another month as it was still pretty warm.
Chose the north loop on the way in as the grade isn't as steep. The sign at the start of the Ballantine Trail has been knocked over. We tried to upright it against a bush. From there it's steeper than we thought it would be going up through Boulder Flats, not difficult, just not what we were expecting from a place with the word "Flats" in its name.
The views from the saddle leading down to the cabin are spectacular, but the descent down is a little tricky as the trail narrows considerably. The cabin itself is quite the curiosity. I mean why would someone build this here in the middle of nowhere? It's also a little creepy. I don't think we spent as long as we anticipated there.
Chose an out and back instead of the bushwhacking loop. Had a close call with a rattlesnake sleeping dead center on the trail on the way back. Had I not slowed down to walk in the shade I would've stepped right on him. Quite a humbling experience! We hustled back to the trialhead via the south loop.