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100 Hikes in Southern California: San Bernardino Mountain Trails
by John W. Robinson with David Money Harris (Wilderness Press)
This trail trip visits a historic spot en route from Angelus Oaks to the summit of San Bernardino Peak. You pass through beautiful subalpine country in this western end of the San Gorgonio Wilderness. If the day is clear, views are breath-taking, extending over the foothills and across the vast San Bernardino Valley to the distant San Gabriel Mountains. Two delightful trail camps—Columbine Springs and Limber Pine Springs—o?er opportunities for overnight stays. Both have water nearby. It’s a long uphill climb, but one you shouldn’t miss. Best do it on a cool early-summer or late-fall weekend; long stretches of the trail traverse open manzanita slopes and make for unpleasant walking on a hot day.
From the fault-line gorge of Mill Creek Canyon, San Bernardino Peak Divide rises precipitously more than a mile above. This is one of the highest and steepest mountain walls in the San Bernardinos. Climbing directly up this towering slope in seemingly endless switchbacks is the Momyer Creek Trail, gaining 5000 feet in 7 miles. The trip presents a living demonstration of how the forest changes with altitude: ?rst through brush and oak, then through belts of Je?rey and ponderosa pine and white ?r, then across manzanita slopes, and ?nally into the realm of lodgepole pine. There is no dependable water en route, unless you make the 2-mile round-trip to Alger Creek. This is a very steep trip for the well-conditioned hiker. Do it on a cool day, and get an early start, for much of the trail is open to the sun. The upper portion is not maintained, but is generally possible to follow. Wear long pants to fend o? the brush. You will probably have the trail to yourself; few hikers use this tough route to the high country.
This area was impacted by the 2015 Lake Fire. As of 2016, the trail remains closed. Check with the Mill Creek Ranger Station at 909-382-2882 to determine if the trail has reopened. There are numerous opportunities for loop trips in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, laced as the region is with trails. This trip climbs the steep, heavily wooded north slope of San Bernardino Peak Divide via the Forsee Creek Trail, follows the divide trail east to Dollar Lake Saddle, and descends via South Fork Meadows to Jenks Lake Road. En route are several inviting trail camps for overnight stay, and three springs with icy-cold water. You pass through some lush forest country and are rewarded with far-ranging views from high on the 10,000-foot divide. This is one of the best circle trips in the wilderness. A 3-mile shuttle (or road walk) is necessary.
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