As snow is melting off even in the high elevation in Southern California, it’s time for me to take a break from the desert and hike some tall peaks. There’s nothing more different from than low desert land than a high mountain peak. The tallest one in Southern California is Mt. San Gorgonio.

san gorgonio 9

basic information (Vivian Creek trail)

  • 17 miles round trip
  • 5’600 ft of elevation
  • beautiful scenery resembling the high sierras
  • you can see Big Bear lake from the top
  • estimate hiking time: 7-10 hours
  • It took me 4 hours and half to summit and 3 hours to descend

wilderness permit

You are require to carry a wilderness permit if you want to hike San Gorgonio. There are several trails that you can take to summit the peak, but Vivian Creek is one of the most popular and is the shortest route; however, it is also the steepest.

To obtain your permit, click here. It is advised that you at least try to get your permit a month in advance.

directions

The big parking lot is a short few minutes walk from the trailhead. Here’s the GPS: 34.081909,-116.893339

This parking lot is for the picnic area, so it can get crowded. I arrived at 9am and there were only a few spots left. Usually, people start hiking around 7 or 8am.

Park here and walk east (through the picnic area) uphill passing the picnic area, and you will see a big sign that says “trail”. It is kind of hard to explain how you can reach the trail head, so i suggest you either ask people around there or talk to the ranger.

the trail & suggestions

This was one of the funnest and most rewarding hikes I’ve ever done. You’ll certainly feel like you’ve accomplished something after this great hike. It is no joke, but I believe that most people who hike regularly can make it.

I started around 9am and got to the summit at 1:30pm. I took a few 5 minute breaks to chat with others and eat snack.

The trail is popular and you will see people constantly. But it’s nothing like Baldy or other popular trail where you feel like you’re walking behind a group of people all the time.

The trail is really well maintained and is super easy to follow, so no worries about getting lost but still stay focus and aware of your surrounding.

After a short 5-10 minutes walk from the parking lot, the trail will cross this dry creek to the opposite side where you will start hiking uphill toward the summit.
After a short 5-10 minutes walk from the parking lot, the trail will cross this dry creek to the opposite side where you will start hiking uphill toward the summit.
Beautiful scenery. Almost reminds me of Yosemite.
Beautiful scenery. Almost reminds me of Yosemite.
The trail is clear and easy to follow the whole way
The trail is clear and easy to follow the whole way

san gorgonio 1

The terrain is rocky, so make sure to wear good shoes
The terrain is rocky, so make sure to wear good shoes
I hiked this in April, so there's still some snow left.
I hiked this in April, so there’s still some snow left.
From the top, you can see the surrounding peaks and Big Bear Lake!
From the top, you can see the surrounding peaks and Big Bear Lake!
Thanks to whoever carry this sign up!
Thanks to whoever carry this sign up!

Written by Snook

I do one cool thing every weekend!

7 comments

    1. Ah no worries. everyone has their own pace! I definitely would love to do it as an overnight. It would be such a fantastic experience to camp in the area. I descend a bit fast and got altitude sickness on the way down. I felt like my head was going to explode. hahaha

      I love your write-up! it looks so amazing in the winter time! cannot wait until January now to visit it with snow.

What do you think about this cool place?

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