Hike the Bighorn Mine Trail
Los Angeles › Vincent Gulch Divide Parking Lot (Trailhead)
Added by Jamie Fleck
Scenic out-and-back hike with panoramic views of the Vincent Gap, Sheep Mountain wilderness, and the east fork of the San Gabriel River Basin.
If you decide to head over to Wrightwood for some skiing during the winter, make sure to get a hike in while you’re at it. There are several trail systems along the Angeles Crest Highway (Hwy 2), and one of them is scenic Big Horn Mine Trail. The end point of the hike is the historic and abandoned Big Horn Mine, discovered by Charles Tom Vincent in the late 19th century. The trailhead is accessible from the Vincent Gap parking lot (past the Grassy Hollow visitor center). If you own the Adventure Pass, parking is free of charge.
A short ways into the trail at about .25 miles, the trail divides in between the Mine Gulch Trail (which descends into the Vincent Gap and you can check out the Vincent cabin) and the Big Horn Mine Trail which winds its way around the mountains to the abandoned Big Horn Mine. Continue forward on the trail to the right to head towards Big Horn Mine. The trail is paved for the beginning part, but once you reach the mining tunnel on your right hand side (not Big Horn Mine) about halfway through the trail, the trail becomes very narrow, uneven with shale, and consists of lots of ups and downs.
The trail deteriorates more in the winter, and also has patches of black ice which may not be visible. So hike with extreme caution, especially on the way back if it becomes dark (since the sun sets earlier in the winter). There are some areas of the trail that may require a rope to get across. To avoid having to hike these narrow, unstable, and icy sections of the hike in the dark, start out with adequate time to hike the entire trail during the daylight and make sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp. The latter half of the hike is more paved and wider. Once you pass two more roundabouts of the mountain, you will see Big Horn Mine on the side of the mountain ahead of you.
From the Big Horn Mine you will be able to see panoramic views of the San Gabriel River Basin in front of you. The view is especially majestic near sunset. Although many people wish to go exploring within the Big Horn Mine, it is strongly advised not to. It is closed off with steel bars, and the structure is not sound since it has been abandoned for decades. You can still enjoy the view from the entrance to the mine, where there is a slab area for people to rest or take a quick bite to eat. The Big Horn Mine Trail is a great workout, has a lot of variety in activity, is dog-friendly, and has magnificent views throughout and at the end as payoff. Going during the winter is especially a treat, because you avoid the crowds and you get to see the mountains in all their splendor topped with snow.
- Day pack
- Reusable water bottle with water
- Snacks/packed lunch
- Layers of clothing
- Gloves (necessary in the winter)
- Beanie (necessary in the winter)
- Hiking shoes with decent tread
- Rope (just in case)
- Flashlight/headlamp (necessary in the winter)
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