South Fork Trail
The South Fork Trailhead is on Jenks Lake Road, 2.5 miles
from Highway 38. The trail begins at the large paved parking lot (6,900') on Jenks Lake
Road East and climbs 2.5 miles where it crosses the Wilderness boundary just beyond a
short side trail (NE) to a photo overlook (Poop-Out Hill, 7,740') and Wilderness
information display. The trail then crosses the Wilderness boundary and continues another
1.7 miles to South Fork Meadows (8,200'). Here the trail forks: to the left (east) is Dry
Lake (1.5 miles, 9,000') and to the right (west) is Dollar Lake (2 miles, 9,300').
The Dry Lake camping area (remember that
camping is at least 200 feet from meadows, streams, springs, trails, and other occupied
sites) is spread through two drainages. The first has only one or two good camping
sites, the second, in the largest draw, has almost all the sites as well as Lodgepole
Spring (about .25 mile up the trail towards Fish Creek Saddle-9,900').
One and three-tenths miles beyond Dry Lake is Trail Flats
Camp (no water, 9,700'). Three-tenths mile further on is Mineshaft Saddle (9,960'), from
which the hiker may choose to climb to the summit of San Gorgonio Mountain (11,499').
The 4.5 mile Sky High Trail from
Mineshaft Saddle to the peak is occasionally steep, often rocky, and usually
snow-covered in the early Fall, Winter, and late Spring. The climb should always be done
with care. Warm garments are a necessity since the wind can and may pick up sharply at the
peak. Just east of the true peak is Summit Camp, best reached by either the Sky High or
Vivian Creek trail. Rocky and windswept, it presents a panoramic view of Southern
California. Here you will find a few rock walled shelters to take protection from the
frequent buffeting wind.
Camping at Dollar Lake is at Dollar Lakes
Forks Trail Camp (9,300'), located approximately
.3 mile from the lake. Camping is prohibited within ¼ mile of Dollar lake,
including camping on the ridges above the lake.
Dollar Lake Saddle (9,960' - no camping
here, no water) is located .7 mile beyond Dollar Lake. From the Saddle, it
is 5 miles to the summit of San Gorgonio Mountain (11,499'). One popular
camp accessible from Dollar Lake Saddle is Red Rock Flat (10,100'), ¼ mile
west of the saddle. High Meadow Springs (10,400') is ½ mile further with
water available for both camps.
Though beautiful, the South Fork Trail is one of the
most heavily used trails. If you have visited this region before, consider a trip to one
of the following trails.
Fish Creek Trail
To reach the trailhead, turn right
(south) off Highway 38 about 6 miles past the Barton Flats Visitor Center on
Forest Service Road 1N02. Follow 1N02 until it forks right to 1N05. Follow
1N05 (not intended for low-slung autos) about 7 miles to the trailhead
(8,180'). From the Fish Creek trailhead, it is 1.7 miles to Fish Creek Trail
Camp (8,600'). Water is available (normally) approximately 1/2 mile beyond
Fish Creek Trail Camp (Fish Creek crosses the trail). During early spring,
water may be found flowing directly through camp.
Three and three-tenths miles further is
Fish Creek Saddle (no water-9,900'). Water is obtained from Lodgepole Spring
(9,000'), seven-tenths of a mile down a trace trail to Dry Lake (9,000'), or
packed up from Fish Creek. From Fish Creek Saddle, it is .9 mile to
Mineshaft Saddle (9,960') where it meets the Sky High Trail. The summit of
San Gorgonio (11,499') is 3.5 miles further.
Aspen Grove Trail
Turn right (south) off Highway 38 about 6 miles past the
Barton Flats Visitor Center on Forest Service Road 1N02. Follow 1N02 until it forks right
to 1N05. Go right up 1N05 (this is a rough unmaintained road not intended for low-slung
autos) to the signed Aspen Grove Trail parking (7,400'), 2.6 miles in from Highway 38.
After crossing the creek, take the trail to the left. After 1.5 miles, the trail joins the
Fish Creek Trail (8,180'). This trail offers quiet and the opportunity for the visitor
to explore a small remnant grove of Quaking Aspens (Populus tremuloides), only
found in one other location outside of the Sierra Nevada range.
The Lost Creek trailhead is across Highway 38 from the
South Fork Campground. Beginning at the parking lot (6,320'), it crosses under the bridge.
The beginning of the Lost Creek Trail follows the Santa Ana River Trail (2E03). After
approximately .5 mile, the Lost Creek Trail splits from the Santa Ana River trail and
heads up an old jeep road for about 1 mile before heading off (south/west) on a trail
towards Grinnell Ridge Camp (no water-8,500'). From the Grinnell Ridge Camp, the trail
descends into South Fork Meadows and meets with the South Fork Trail. This trail is one
of the most underused and offers solitude and good views north to Santa Ana Canyon and
Kitching Peak Trail
Drive Interstate 10 to Fields Road
exit. Turn right onto Fields Road over cattleguard, proceed .75 mile to
Morongo Road and turn right. Drive through 3 S-curves to Millard Canyon
Road. Take the east (right) branch of this road, following signs to Kitching
Peak Trailhead (4,240'). It is 4 miles to Kitching Sink (5,570') and 5.5
miles to Kitching Peak (6,560'). No water is available at either site.
This is the most underused region of the San Gorgonio Wilderness.
Follow the same directions as the Kitching Peak Trail
(above). On Millard Canyon Road, take the left branch and look for signs to Deer Spings
(4,400'). Only Explorer Permits are issued for this area. This is the most underused
region of the San Gorgonio Wilderness.
Vivian Creek Trail
The trailhead is reached by turning east off Highway 38 to
Forest Falls. Continue through Forest Falls to the top end (east end) of the picnic area
at the end of the road (6,080').
The Vivian Creek Trail is the shortest and the steepest
route to the summit of Mt. San Gorgonio. One and two-tenths miles from the trailhead is
Vivian Creek Camp (7,100'). Campsites are located upslope to the right of the trail after
reaching the stream: one is halfway up the slope, and the other is at the top of the slope
(no camping within 200 feet of the trail or creek).
One and three-tenths miles from Vivian Creek Camp is
Halfway Camp (8,100'). Water is obtained from the creek 200 yards before camp. Two and
three-tenths miles further is High Creek Camp (water available - 9,200'). The summit of
San Gorgonio (11,499') is 3 miles beyond High Creek. The upper end of this trail offers
outstanding views of Yucaipa Ridge and Galena Peak, as well as sweeping panoramic views
from the top of Mt. San Gorgonio. After the South Fork Trail, this is the second most used
trail in the Wilderness.
The trailhead is reached by turning east off Highway 38 to
Forest Falls. Continue up the road 3 miles to the large parking area (5,400') on your left
100 yards before the fire station. Alger Creek Camp (7,100') is 3.7 miles. The single site
is located about .25 miles below the trail.
Two miles further is Dobbs Camp (water available-7,200').
Another 1.5 miles is Saxton Camp (8,400'). Water here is obtained from a small spring .2
mile below the camp along the trail. Two miles further is Dollar Lake Saddle (no
water-9,960'). This one of the most underused trails. This area offers the
visitor solitude and good views of Mill Creek Canyon and Yucaipa Ridge from the upper end
of the trail.
Bernardino Peak Trail
The trailhead (5,960') leaves from behind the Camp Angelus
Fire Station at Angelus Oaks. Stay to the right up the dirt road 300 yards. Columbine Camp
(water available-8,000') is 4.7 miles from the trailhead just beyond Manzanita Flats. The
camp is to the right (south) of the trail and .7 mile and 300 vertical feet below it.
Two miles beyond Columbine Springs Junction is Limber Pine
Bench Camp (9,200'). Water is obtained from a spring .3 mile beyond the camp.
Two and two-tenths miles further beyond Limber Pine Camp
located on the San Bernardino Peak Divide Trail is San Bernardino (10,624') and San
Bernardino East Peaks. Another two mile east along the Peak Divide Trail is Trail Fork
Springs (water available near trail junction-10,400').
The San Bernardino Peak Trail and the Divide Trail both
offer outstanding views in all directions. The flatlands of the Inland Empire lay nearly
10,000 vertical feet below Limber Pine Camp and the trail above.
Turn right (southeast) on Jenks Lake Road West off of
Highway 38. One-quarter mile from Highway 38 is a signed dirt road on your right. This is
a rough, rocky road not intended for low-slung autos, but is usually passable.
Three-quarters to one mile up the trail is
the cutoff for John's Meadow (heading to the west). John's Meadow (and camp)
is located at 7,200' and 3.9 miles from the trailhead. Plenty of water is
available here year-round.
Four miles from the trailhead (6,400') is Jackstraw Camp.
Jackstraw Camp (9,200') is located .2 miles to the right (west) of the trail and is
supplied by a small and intermittent water source. One and nine-tenths miles beyond
Jackstraw is Trail Fork Springs Camp (10,400'). Water is located about 100 yards southwest
of the camp at the Spring.
To the east along the Peak Divide Trail lie two additional
camps. The first, Anderson Flat (no water-10,500'), is .4 miles up the trail. The second
is Shields Flat (no water-10,400') 1.8 miles east of Anderson Flat, 2.3 miles east of
Trail Fork, and only 1.2 miles west of High Meadow Spring (10,300') which is the preferred
This trail is mostly shaded up to Jackstraw Springs
Camp, and offers outstanding sunset views west from Trail Fork Springs Camp.
Fork, Whitewater River
The best access to this trail is via the Fish Creek Trail
(8,180'). Two camps are accessible from Mineshaft Saddle (9,960'). From Mineshaft Saddle,
the trail descends northeast to Mineshaft Flats (1.1 miles-9,600'). The camp lies to the
west of the trail. Water is available approximately .3 miles along the trail below the
One mile beyond (and below) Mineshaft Flats is Big Tree
Camp (8,400'). Water is available from the North Fork of the Whitewater River. This
area is remote and rugged and offers the visitor solitude and far-off views of Yucca
Valley and Joshua Tree National Park.
Follow the same directions for Deer Springs Trail (above).
On Millard Canyon Road look for signs to Bear Wallow Trail (4,560') after passing the Deer
Springs Trailhead (4,400'). The camp (4,880') is .5 miles up an easy trail. Water is
obtained from the creek.