Summit Mt. San Gorgonio

17 miles 5840 ft gain  - Out-and-Back 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.

Read More

Tags

Hiking
Forest
Scenic

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Explorer

ūü•ą Contributor

almost 4 years ago

Best in SoCal

Backpacking trips like this one are hard to come by in SoCal, and this is one of my favorite back country trips I have done so far. Its the perfect high-altitude trip for those training for Whitney and beyond. It is incredibly brutal on the way up, but so worth it when you get to the top. Be careful on the way down, almost fell so many times.

ūü•ČContributor

over 4 years 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!

ūü•ČContributor

over 5 years 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!

Stay Nearby

Angelus Oaks, California

Council

Overview The Council Group Campground is a great place to enjoy a large outdoor gathering with just about everything the San Bernardino National Forest has to offer. Its location provides a great p...

Angelus Oaks, California

Barton Flats

Overview The Barton Flats Campground provides a taste of just about everything the San Bernardino National Forest has to offer. In addition to a nearby lake and river access, a variety hiking, biki...

Angelus Oaks, California

San Gorgonio

Overview The San Gorgonio Campground provides access to a variety of recreational opportunities, as well as a beautiful location in which to enjoy nature. Its proximity to scenic trails and nearby ...

Angelus Oaks, California

Heart Bar Equestrian

Overview The Heart Bar Equestrian Campground is available by reservation and is for equestrian campers only. It provides access to some of Southern California's greatest backcountry horseback ridin...

Nearby Adventures

  • Winter Hike Around Jenks Lake

    If you want to experience winter, beauty and solitude in SoCal look no further than Jenks Lake. Not too far from Big Bear Lake, but secluded enough to keep most away in the winter, Jenks Lake is a small but lovely alpine lake near HWY 38 in Angelu...

  • Summit Mt. San Bernardino from Angelus Oaks

    The trailhead is somewhat 'interesting' to get to given the dirt roads are in questionable shape and some of the roads in Angelus Oaks are not easily identifiable but I didn't have any problems finding it by closely following Google Maps.    Trail...

    16 miles 4775 ft gain

  • Snowshoe to Grand View Point

    Grand View Point is accessed via Pine Knot Trail, a 6.5 mile out and back hiking trail located at the Aspen Glen Picnic Area, 1 mile from Big Bear Village. With its close proximity to town, Pine Knot Trail is popular in the summer with mountain bi...

    6.1 miles 1200 ft gain

  • Mountain Bike Pine Knot Trail in Big Bear

    Park at the free parking lot behind the village off of Knickerbocker Rd between Village Drive and Pedder Road. Ride up Knickerbocker Rd towards the mountain. Look out for the fire service road 2N08 that veers left and uphill. The first 2 miles is ...

    6 miles 1413 ft gain