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DesertMud - Hiking, Mountain Biking, Pine Trees, Southern California
Hiking Mountain Biking Pine Trees May 22, 2022
Special Instructions
Wilderness Permit Req'd
Mill Creek Ranger Station
34701 Mill Creek Road
Mentone, CA 92359
(909) 794-1123
NF Adventure Pass Req'd

Related Hikes (5)
San Gorgonio Peak via South Fork Trail, Dollar Lake
9 Peaks in the San Gorgonio Wilderness 30 miles, 9 peaks, 9200ft elev. gain, 1 day
San Gorgonio Peak via Fish Creek Trail
San Gorgonio Mountain via South Fork Trail, Dollar Lake Saddle
San Gorgonio Peak via Vivian Creek Trail

DeparmentofGoods - Outdoor Gear Without the Gouge

You are here: Home : Hiking Last Updated on 08/04/2001    
Diff: Rating 8/10
Scenic: Rating 8/10
Tech: Rating 2/10
San Gorgonio Mountain
         via South Fork Trail, Dollar Lake Saddle
Location: San Bernardino Mountains, San Bernardino National Forest, Southern California
Region: San Gorgonio Region
Wilderness: San Gorgonio Wilderness
Total Distance: 22.6 Mi
Elevation Gain: 5,000 Ft
Season: April-Nov
Type: Out & Back
Start Elev: 6,900 Ft
Peak Elev: 11,501 Ft
Total Time: 7 hr
Time In: 3.8 hr
Time Out: 3.2 hr

Peak List Peak List
Peak Name Elevation
San Gorgonio Peak 11,501 Ft

Hike added by
on 08/04/2001
Driving Directions
From Victorville area, take Hwy 18 East to Hwy 38 & go quite a ways past Onyx summit, past South Fork Campground to the sign for Jenks Lake. Make a left on Jenks Lake Rd and drive to the parking area. Park. Get out. Start walking.
From the parking lot, pass two restrooms, cross a road, and you're on South Fork Trail. (The mileages quoted in the following report are from http://www.sgwa.org/). Hike on a trail first through a nicely forested area. Eventually the trail widens to a road-like-trail and then passes into this nice meadow with two small cabin looking buildings and two water spouts. The trail then narrows again. Keep going and the trail dumps into this more exposed meadow. I think there were two dirt road crossings somewhere around here, After a switchback, the enterence to the wilderness (2.5 miles in) is reached along with a sign and trail to Poop-out hill to the left. Enter into the wilderness & hike a little ways to a trail junction. To the left the sign says Grinnell Mountain and to the right, something else... Take the right fork. In a little while more, the trail forks again (4.2 miles in). To the left is Dry Lake and to the right is Dollar Lake. We chose the trail to the right. In a little while more, the trail passes over this rocky area with some cool looking rocks. I think it was just after this that the trail splits. The left fork goes to Dollar Lake and the right fork goes to Dollar Lake Saddle. Go towards the saddle. In a little while more, the saddle is reached along with a double-decker sign (6.3 miles in). Follow the sign towards San Gorgonio Mountain. Then you will wind around the side of the summits of Charlton Peak and then Jepson Peak. In a little while after that you will reach the trail junction with Vivian Creek Trail. In a short distance after this, another trail junction is reached with the Sky High trail to the Mineshaft area. Continue on the trail to the North? side of the peak and there is a little side trail that takes you up the rocks about 10ft to the actual peak (11.3 miles in).
Jerry picked me up at my house at about 12:20pm & then we were going up to Crestline so he could play guitar for these people he works for for a little while. After that we were all supposed to go out to Jenks lake and spend a little time at the lake and then me and Jerry were going to take off from there and hike San Gorgonio. The other people changed their minds and ended up going to Silverwood Lake instead, so we just split for the South Fork Trail. It was a long drive on Hwy 18 from Crestline to Big Bear. Then we turned on Hwy 38, went through Fawnskin, got some gas near Big Bear and finally got out of the Big Bear area. Now it's another kind of long drive to Jenks Lake Rd. We thought we had passed the road or something because it seemed like it was taking too long to get there. But then sure enough, there was the sign to Jenks Lake. Then we drive what seems to be a few miles on this road to the parking lot. As we're walking in on South Fork Trail, everyone that we see on the trail is walking out except for this one family wearing these weird hats. They were probably headed to Poop-out Hill. I was really hot for about the first 6 miles or so, burnin' up; although, it wasn't very hot outside, it was really probably a pretty comfortable air temp. About 1/2 mile before we got into the wilderness (thankfully), we passed a ranger who wanted to know if we had a wilderness permit. The ranger blabbed at us for about 5 minutes or so & told us of an alternate hike that those without a permit can take - take a short trail to Poop-out Hill where there is a good view of San Gorgonio and then take a road back down. So I said to the ranger "Oh, that's good, at least we can still get a hike in here. Thank you!" A few minutes later, we somehow took the wrong trail (huh?) and ended up at San Gorgonio instead. Continuing on our hike, we passed a few more people that were heading down. We decided to take the Dollar Lake Saddle fork of the trail rather than the Dry Lake fork because Jerry had been on the Dry Lake trail years before on a hike that he tells me started at midnight and ended at around 6am after nearly reaching the summit on a full-moon night like it was on this night. Anyways, we were walking pretty good the whole time, only stopping to get some water or a handful of cheetos. In the bend around Jepson Peak, we had a great view of the sunset behind Pine Mountain and Mt Baden Powell in the San Gabriels. The cities below were kind of shrouded in a thin layer of moisture and the setting sun caused the clouds to glow a beautiful purple-pink. After stopping to watch the sunset, we continued to the peak where there were two people in one of the rock shelters setting up camp. Oddly, there was only a very slight breeze on the peak & it was comfortable until I sat down for a few minutes and my soaking wet t-shirt started to cool down. It really wasn't that cold, but when you're sitting in wet clothes doing nothing, it gets a lot cooler than it feels. For example, if it means anything, the other two guys up there had pretty meaty looking jackets on. It was just getting dark when we were at the peak. There were a few mice & bats around & a good number of insects. I had a powerbar, oats, graham crackers, peanuts, & cheetos for dinner. We were going to take the loop to Dry Lake on the way back, but we didn't have a map with us & it had been a long time since either of us had looked at a map, so we wern't sure how to get on the trail back to Dry Lake, so we just went back the way we came. This was a full moon night. A full moon hike is almost like a day hike, except at night, so it's cooler and no annoying sun to deal with. In the forested or shadowed areas, however, it can still be pretty dark. If the forest is real dense, it can be nearly cave-like dark. There are only a few spots along the whole trail where the forest gets pretty dense & it's pretty dark in these spots - easy to lose a trail that's easy to lose. This trail is pretty difficult to lose & we could see at least a few feet of the trail in front of us most of the hike down. Most of the hike down, once off the back of San Gorgonio, it was dark enough to be able to do some painful toe-stubbing, foot-twisting, and knee-collapsing. Nonetheless, we made it back to the truck after some hilarous bouts or cycles or whatever of toe-stubbing, yeah we really couldn't stop cracking up at each other. I had some extremely worn out boots on and Jerry had some Walmart tennis/hiking looking shoes. He got it bad a few times, hahahahahahaha. Oh, so anyway, we made it back to the truck without ever turning a flashlight on (I had one; he didn't). Some painful toes. He had some skittles and doritos waiting in the truck though. We were pretty tired, not because of the hike, but because it was kind of late & we had nearly a 2 hour drive ahead of us. I used about 110 ounces of water on this hike. The funny thing about the hike is that it is supposedly 11.3 miles long each way according to an old wilderness permit of mine and the www.SGWA.org website. Going up seemed like a complete rip-off. It seemed extremely short and easy, like we were at the peak in no time, with no effort. But coming back down in the dark with the endless toe-stubbing, the trail seemed like it was four times as long. An old wilderness permit of mine says it is supposed to take 8.5 hours EACH WAY on this hike. I don't know how this could be true. We went up in 3.75 hours and down in 3.25 hours (in the dark!) for a total hiking time of 6 hours and 58 minutes. This is 1 hour and 32 minutes less than it is "supposed" to take to just go one way! Who hiked this thing, Great Grandpa Elbert? Interesting note: they say that high altitude sickness has nothing to do with a someones physical fitness. Last time I hiked San Gorgonio, the first "real" hike I'd ever taken, I was staggering and could barely walk straight or keep my balance. At about 11,000 ft I did not think I was going to make it to the peak. On this hike however, a year and 8 months later, I had no high altitude affects and kept the pace of about 3 mph all the way to the peak. I have been jogging lately (and of course hiking) & I think this has made a big improvement on how I feel at altitude.
Trail Condition
Hey it's a nice trail, no troubles, well maintained. Not too bad in the dark either.
Forest Details
Hey it's a nice forest, no troubles. A lot of the trees look the same in the dark.
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