San Gorgonio Mountain 11499
“Bighorn Mountain” 10997
“Dragons Head” 10866
Start/End Loc: Vivian Creek TH
Distance/Elevation: 20.3 miles RT/6644 feet elevation gain
This was the 1st day of my 3-day trip to LA from Colorado. I was hoping to do all 3 of the LA area peaks with 5000 feet of prominence. Today’s weather up high turned out to be ~50 degrees with continuous winds of 15-20 mph - not too bad but cool enough for an extra layer. No snow on the ground so the walking was easy. In general there’s an excellent trail all the way to the summit, mostly dirt with sporadic sections of rock.
As of September 1, 2017, an issued permit per a quota system for a day hike is no longer required. (Camping still requires an issued permit.) However, a day hike permit is recommended. I self-permitted by printing mine out online from http://sgwa.org. I also emailed it in, again optional. To park at this TH you do need a National Forest Adventure Pass ($5/day or $30 annual), available from the ranger stations or some local merchants. I used my America The Beautiful Pass which is good for inter-agency fees such as this one.
Perhaps an optional day hike permit is not a good idea since people don’t have to sign off on the rules. To wit, someone left a marvelous present for everyone to experience (see photo).
The start of the hike is easy to find - simply put Vivian Creek Trailhead into Google Maps and follow the directions. The first part of the hike follows a gated dirt road past some houses and cabins and then crosses Mill Creek. From here the real hiking begins. The first mile climbs steeply with switchbacks to the wilderness boundary. This is probably the steepest continuous climbing you’ll do all day.
The remaining hike meanders slowly through the San Gorgonio Wilderness. It’s a long way with a fair amount of vertical to the summit. Above High Creek Campground to the higher ridge there are some very long, but tight switchbacks. It was all I could do to not shortcut these switchbacks on the way back as it would literally save several minutes per switchback. Seems like this part of the trail was a little over-engineered.
Getting over to Bighorn and Dragons Head is easy bushwhacking through sparse trees. Interesting views here. I decided to contour back to the main trail as my topo shows - again, not too bad. Following are some photos and my GPX tracks.
Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, New Mexico.
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- Gary Neben
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