San Gorgonio Mountain

Big Bear Lake, California 92315

San Gorgonio Mountain

San Gorgonio Mountain Professional Review and Guide

"This memorable trip is perhaps the finest backpack route in southern California, touring the region’s most scenic high-mountain landscape. Glacial cirques, virgin forests, windswept alpine ridges, two subalpine lakes, a lush meadow, and panoramic vistas make this one of the finest and most memorable hikes in southern California."

More San Gorgonio Mountain Professional Reviews and Guides

"The rounded, talus-strewn summit of San Gorgonio Mountain (or “Grey-back,” as it was called long ago) crowns the San Bernardino Mountains and regally presides over thousands of square miles of varied Southern California terrain.

The mountain’s 11,499-foot elevation qualifies it as the highest peak in California south of the Tehachapi Mountains. The way up and back down is long and challenging. Even so, no California peak-bagger’s long-term itinerary is complete without a visit to the top."

"The barren, talus-strewn summit of San Gorgonio Mountain (or Greyback, after its steely gray appearance from the valleys below) receives dozens of hikers on most fine-weather weekends. No hiker, however, ever has an easy time of it. Either variation of the popular northern approach (via Dollar Lake or Dry Lake) requires more than 20 miles of round-trip hiking. On the southern approach by way of the Vivian Creek Trail, described here, you begin hiking at a point several hundred feet lower than the northern (South Fork) trailhead, but you save at least 5 miles of distance on the round-trip."

San Gorgonio Mountain Reviews

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7/6/2018
This is an extremely intense hike and I cannot stress enough how important it is to prepare for it practically, physically and mentally. The vistas are absolutely epic and even though your butt will be kicked this is an amazing experience. Check the weather and make sure you have all the essential gear for this huge trek. "Old Grayback" is not messing around!
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10/13/2011
Absolutely beautiful route! Started out Thursday at noon and made dollor lake in time to set camp and make a sunset water trip. Got off trail after a stop at Dry Lake View camp, reconnected with trail and made camp after sunset. Summit views take away what little breath you have. Sky High trail and Dry Lake camp made for the best day ever! Stream from south fork medows make the journey to the car perfect. TWO THUMBS UP!!!
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5/24/2008
THIS WAS ONE MY FIRST LONG TREKS. I WAS UNAWARE OF THE RECENT STORM AND ONLY HAD SPRING HIKING SHOES AND NO TREKING POLES. THE LANDSCAPE WAS AMAZING AND BEAUTIFUL.SOME POINTS THE SNOW DRIFTS WERE AS DEEP AS 2 FEET AND THE TRAIL WAS SLICK AND SLUSHY.WE STARTED OUT AROUND 8:00 AM AND I FOUND MY WAY THROUGH THE EASY TO NAVIGATE TRAIL TO THE SUMMIT AT APROX. 1:03 PM. WE THEN WENT BACK DOWN THE STEEP TRAIL AND MADE OUR WAY THROUGH THE CLOUDS AND THE SNOW TO MY TRUCK AT APROX. 5:10 PM. THE TRAIL IS ABSOLUTLY ONE OF THE BEST I HAVE EVER BEEN ON AND I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS ONE TO ANYONE WHO WANTS A THRILL AND SATISFACTION OF REACHING A SUMMIT.
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5/23/2008
This trail is incredibly scenic, and passes through a variety of remarkable terrain. My intent was to complete the loop trail in three days, traveling from South Fork to Dry Lake, summiting San Gorgonio, moving on to Dollar Lake and then back to the trailhead. Unfortunately, a fluke snowfall the previous day, and a drop in temperature to 12F that night cut the trip short at Dry Lake. I would recommend this trail to anyone despite the cold weather. The trail was a manageable grade up to a series of challenging switchbacks just before reaching Dry Lake. If you do plan to summit Gorgonio, I would definitely suggest a two day trip; although my co-worker's 69 year old Grandmother apparently did the South Fork to Summit and back again in one day (a third of which was by flashlight).
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8/13/2007
This is a fantastic trail, easy to follow yet physically challenging. The views along the saddles are breathtaking. It was hot, ugly and smoggy in the Inland Empire when we left but the air was pristine and clear on the trail. And from the distance of the summit, even the smog looked more like a mystic haze. Even in a drought year like this one there is water to purify and replenish your bottles...if you plan carefully. Plan 10 hours minimum so you can enjoy the summit and leave before 9am in the mid-summer (you probably need to leave earlier in the morning to be safe as it moves into September).
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8/12/2007
We made this trip the opposite way than it is described here. We started at around 10 am on Saturday (before getting our permit earlier at the Ranger Station and dropping of two the two cars) and it took us about 7 hours (with over 40 pounds of weight on our back) to reach Dollar Lake Saddle at 10,000 feet. After another hour, we decided to stay at High Meadow Springs Camp for the night (instead of Anderson Flat Camp, where we planned). In my opinion, High Meadow Springs Camp is the best location for an overnight stay going this direction - very quite, hidden in the forest and with a beautiful view (there are only one or two places to set up a tent). Since we brought all our water (8 liters), we were not depending on any spring. Although the Rangers gave us a list with a couple of places where one could find some water, everything currently seems to be really dry. Even Dollar Lake was dry! After a beautiful night in the mountains, we continued our hike the next morning and it only took us (now only carrying 20-30 pounds) 6 hours to hike the 13 miles back to our second car. But believe me, the last 4 miles were brutal and although we are both in an excellent shape, this was close to our limits. After all, we made it and it was a great hike with very scenic views (even better than Baldy or Jacinto). Here some facts of our hike: START: Jenks Lake Road, Angelus Oaks (N34°09.663, W116°52.316, elevation: 6,916 feet) FIRST DAY: 8.4 miles, 8 hours CAMP(overnight): High Meadow Springs (N34°07.499, W116°52.022, elevation: 10,226 feet) SECOND DAY: 12.8 miles, 6 hours, including 4 peaks (Shields (10,680), Anderson (10,864), San Bernardino East (10,691) and San Bernardino Peak (10,649)) FINISH (drop off of our first car): Highway 38, Angelus Oaks, exit right and turn left towards the fire station, continue for a couple of feet and make a right to the parking area for the San Bernardino Peak trailhead (N34°08.768, W116°58.705, elevation: 5,912 feet)
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10/28/2006
This trail is a bit deceiving. The first three miles are rather easy going and well manicured. The beautiful stream and crisp blue sky make for a pleasant hike. At the fork that leads to either dollar lake or to dry lake, the trail turns. It becomes a series of switch backs that are higher in the incline. The biggest disappointment was finding out that there is no lake left. It is all dried up. We chose to stop just short of the lake after getting reports from exiting hikers. We may actually try the hike in the spring after the thaw. You can find out more about our adventures at www.socaltrailblazers.com.
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6/28/2006
We took our Troop up to the peak via Dollar Lake. The trail was not for the weak. The first day was from Poopout Hill to Dollar Lake. This is the hardest part of the trip. It was 4.9 miles of pure up hill at a medium grade 11 degrees. The second day was to the peak and back to Dollar Lake. Note, be sure to load up on water at Dollar lake, there was no water anywhere along the trail to the peak. The views from Dry Lake View (10400) to the San Gorgonio Peak (11501) were awsome. Trail consisted of alot of rocks and tree roots. Have good padding in your shoes. This is a hike I wound only recommend to a hiker that is in good shape. Excelent trip
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1/3/2006
Great hike. Spent 1 night at dry lake. Crampons needed above 10,000 feet, but my dog made it fine with just her claws. The lake was frozen, so I needed to break a hole with my ice axe to pump water. Good times.
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11/3/2005
One of the best hikes i had in years, The ground was damp and it made intresting to walk over the mounds of large acorns struned everywhere. I had great weather in the most of the day, but as soon as the sun set, the wind picked up to between 30-40 with gusts to around 60, made for a cold night, never the less the camping area was nice, found trash from other hikers, made it a tad disapointing, It was hard going over the river bed to reach the water falls, but once there it was orsome, the fishing was not so hot! but at least i got to see a black bear, digging and eating berries about a 100ft away from me on the second moring there. All in all a great trip, cant wait for the weather to brake for my next adventure....
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San Gorgonio Mountain Photos

Trail Information

Big Bear Lake
Nearby City
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
21.3
Distance
4,599 feet
Elevation Gain
Loop/Lollipop
Trail Type
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
2 to 3 days
Duration
Best late June through mid-October
Season
6,900 feet
Trailhead Elevation
11,499 feet
Top Elevation
San Bernardino National Forest, San Gorgonio Ranger District
Local Contacts
USGS Moonridge, San Gorgonio Mountain
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018