Summit Mt. San Gorgonio

Los Angeles Vivian Creek Trail

Added by Brenda Lin

This 17-mile round trip hike climbs into the lush valley of Vivian Creek to the barren summit of San Gorgonio. San Gorgonio is the tallest mountain in Southern California at 11,503ft.

A hiking permit is required to hike in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Apply for the permit early as the Vivian Creek Trail is the second most popular trailhead for the area and quotas fill up in advance. The permits are free and the entire process can be handled via fax or mail. All the information for the permit system can be found here here.

Start hiking early. The parking lot quickly fills on busy weekends. It is also going to be a long day, and by starting early, you will avoid the worst of the heat.

The trail begins from the east end of the parking lot on an old dirt road. Follow the trail as it will take you down across the boulder wash of Mill Creek. From here, it's a steep one mile section of switchbacks, which brings you to an easier section of trail and a major highlight of this hike, the lush green valley of Vivian Creek. Climbing resumes as you pass the last water source at High Creek. And after a number of switchbacks, the forest opens up, revealing stunning vistas of Mt. San Jacinto and the Inland Empire.

The final stretch of trail is a long diagonal traverse that steadily ascends gravelly slopes to the barren summit. As you reach the summit ridge, you'll pass a clearly marked junction. Bear right and head eastward. You will hit another junction from the south, but ignore this and continue straight for another 0.3 miles as the rock piled summit lies before you. Enjoy the 360 degree views and revel in your achievement of reaching the highest point in all of Southern California.

Retrace your steps on the return route back to the trail head. Fair warning though, the descent will feel much longer than you expect. Take your time as there are some rocky sections of trail, but most of all enjoy the view. You will find the views only get better as the late afternoon sun shines a new light upon the forest.

Pack List

  • Plenty of water or water filter
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Trekking poles
  • Sturdy Hiking Boots
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Hiking

Skill Level:

Advanced

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

17 Miles

Elev. Gain:

5840 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Forest
Scenic

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

6 months ago

No Place Better In Socal

San G is the best shot at a true mountain backpacking experience in Southern California. Pick your battles...big elevation gain off the Vivian creek trail head or the longer less vertical approach via South Fork. Either way this backpacking trip is one for the books and a must do in my eyes. The closest you can get to feeling as through you're in the Sierras, yet still close enough for a weekend trip. Get packing!

6 months ago

over 1 year ago

This is a pretty brutal hike in terms of elevation gain. Some might say "unrelenting". But reaching the high point of SoCal and it's accompanying views is pretty worth it. One word of advice- If you can swing it, try for a smog-free day to summit. It'll make the views all that much sweeter!

over 1 year ago

Added by Brenda Lin

More Adventures Nearby

Hike the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve Trail

Los Angeles / Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Trailhead

The most popular point of entry is through the Victory Trailhead, which has ample parking. You can park on the street or you can pay $3 to park at the trailhead parking lot.

Tori Marsh
5 Saves

Hike to the Teepee in the San Gabriel Mountains

Los Angeles / Cross Town Trail (Harten Lane)

Hidden in the small community of La Canada, California, the trailhead is pretty hidden! From the 210, take the exit for Highway 2/Angeles Crest Highway.

Tori Marsh
11 Saves

Hike Sunday Peak

Los Angeles / Sunday Peak Trailhead

This short and easy summit is located just outside of Kernville, California. To get there, follow Highway 178 towards Kernville and turn left on Highway 155 towards Wofford Heights.

Rachel Davidson
8 Saves