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DesertMud - Hiking, Mountain Biking, Pine Trees, Southern California
Hiking Mountain Biking Pine Trees Apr 12, 2024
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

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9 Peaks in the San Gorgonio Wilderness 30 miles, 9 peaks, 9200ft elev. gain, 1 day
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San Gorgonio Peak via Vivian Creek Trail

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You are here: Home : Hiking Last Updated on 01/07/2000    
Diff: Rating 9/10
Scenic: Rating 10/10
Tech: Rating 2/10
San Gorgonio Peak
         via Vivian Creek Trail
Location: San Bernardino Mountains, San Bernardino National Forest, Southern California
Region: San Gorgonio Region
Wilderness: San Gorgonio Wilderness
Total Distance: 15.6 Mi
Elevation Gain: 5,419 Ft
Season: April-Nov
Type: Out & Back
Start Elev: 6,080 Ft
Peak Elev: 11,499 Ft
Total Time: 9 hr
Time In: 5.5 hr
Time Out: 3 hr

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

Hike added by
on 01/07/2000
Driving Directions
Drive the freeways to get to Mentone: the 215 to the 10 (or 30) to Hwy 38. We took Hwy 18 from Victorville to Hwy 38 to Mentone and then back to the trailhead & all of this took 2 hours and 45 minutes - a big waste of time & gas climbing up to the Big Bear area and Onyx Peak. Pick up wilderness permit at ranger station in Mentone. Park at Vivian Creek Trailhead parking lot.
Walk up a small road, turn left across the wide creek, cross the creek and start climbing switchback after switchback. The first section up the switchbacks is by far the steepest of the entire hike. Continue on the trail to San Gorgonio Peak at 11,499 Ft. (11,501 Ft.)
To this point, I hadn't hiked at all in a year. I had kept up Mt. Biking though, but not much of that either. Also, I've never hiked or mt biked at any elevation above 6000ft, so this hike was bound to be rough for me. Going up the switchbacks near the begining I had to rest every so often. By the time we had gone about 2 miles it seemed like 4. Then I did pretty good up until about 9500ft and the altitute started getting to me. We kept going. At treeline and about 11,000ft I was resting every few steps & totally dizzy, staggering and nearly falling over with each step. I was nearly panting from just 3 or 4 steps. I sat down on a rock where I could see the peak just ahead and said I couldn't go on. But I had to; I had been wanting to do this hike for a few years & I didn't get up at 4:30 for nothing, so I got up, still staggering and about to fall asleep while walking. It was so hard to try to keep my eyes open and stay awake; it was the weirdest feeling. Then we got to a point that was maybe 1/5 mile from the peak and I took off running and didn't feel too bad anymore. We climbed the rocks to the top and I felt great up there, until my nose froze. We didn't spend more than 15 min at the peak because it was already about 2:30pm and it would get dark about 5:00pm. Not to mention it was damn cold on the top. I could barely get my pen to do more than scratch the paper to leave a note because the ink was frozen.

It was nice when we dropped back down below 9500ft on the way out. It seemed like it took forever to get out of there and the trail just kept going and going, & we were running nearly the whole way out. The paper that came with the wilderness permit says it should take 6.5 hrs each way. We were running out almost the whole time trying to make it out before dark.

It was the most awesome hike though; there was snow right at the beginning, perfect weather, the peak was barren and dry and extremely windy and cold; the temp at the peak taken quickly off my watch was 27F and the wind had to be 40-50mph. Moving was slow going up after 10,000ft. Running down the last steep section on the way out was pretty jarring. Best hike in San Bernardino National Forest that I've been on.

I could barely walk the next day & was really in pain for 2 days after but for some reason, it felt great!!
Trail Condition
there was a thin layer of snow/ice at the start of the trail at 6080ft. There was no snow on the switchbacks near the beginning, but at higher elevations, snow was on the trail, but it was never deeper than 4in. Snow continued on the trail almost to the peak. The trail is very nice everywhere except the switchbacks near the beginning where the trail is very rocky and very jarring coming down, but the trail is still a nice trail even here.
Forest Details
The forest out here is great, it was totally beautiful everywhere along this hike.
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