South Fork to Dollar Lake Trail is a 11.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Banning, CA that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from May until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
The trail is a moderate uphill climb. Much of the hike is along a stream. There are a few rocks, but the trail is well maintained. Keep a lookout for birds, chipmunks, and lizards. You must get a permit from the Mill Creek Ranger Station for this hike.
I hiked to the top, passing Dollar lake and its attached ice flow in the 1950s and 1960s, usually spending the night either at Dollar Lake or Slushy Meadows on the return. From what I am now reading the lake is no longer? Dried up? So I assume the the glacier-like adjacent ice is also gone? In that era there was a boulder adjacent to the lake with an overhang which provided some shelter from moisture. AT Slushy Meadows there was a hollowed out tree which provided "emergency" shelter from an unexpected down;pour. Be sure the rangers know of your plans...and check out with them.
Well Dollar Lake is completely dried up, as are most of the creeks. We found one spring that was still running and there was a creek at the bottom of a very steep drop. Otherwise there is no water source. Besides that the hike was beautiful! Lovely view of de surrounding mountains as you are hiking up, and a lot of changing leaves in early fall! Perfect temperature this time of year and was overall a great hike. There was three people in the group and four dogs. Everyone did great but make sure to bring water since there is hardly any water sources. We clocked the distance at 14 miles round trip. Got there at 10 am and got back to the truck at 5:30 pm but we stopped a lot and weren't in a rush. Just don't forget you need a permit and an adventure pass. No Rangers today but you never know!
I decided to hike this after spending the day hiking with a meet up group yesterday. I felt a bit tired and had spent the night in Big Bear. This was a close hike on the way home. The weather was hot but beautiful. There is always a ranger there to check for permits. I hiked as far as Dollar Saddle. There were a couple fof hikers going to the summit of San G. I was soooo tempted. It was late though. And I worried that I didn't have a water filter. I decided to add Dry Lake Viewpoint which is about 1.2 mi past Dollar Saddle. It is also known as Charleton Peak. 10840.I turned back about 2mi from the peak.WHen I got back to the car. I only had one cup of water left. Guess that was a good decision for this day. Next time…to the peak!!!
I dont know why it says Banning here when the trailhead is actually San Bernardino near Big Bear. A very picturesque hike that passes along a large stream. It is worth it to stop and enjoy the cool water.
7am start - Summit around 3:30pm, back to parking lot at 7:20pm. This is a long trail with very easy elevation gain. Tons of rocks on trails, have good ankle support. Altitude sickness set in above 10k with major headache and nausea at summit. Its over 5 miles hike down to get below 10k again. Wished I would have acclimated longer at 10k feet before my ascent as I came up from sea level.
Got a 5:30 AM start. Had the trail to myself on the way up. The first half of the hike was much easier than the second half. The trail peaks at 9500 feet and then dips back down to the lake and 9200 feet. If you have it in you, four miles beyond the lake is the highest point, San Gorgonio Peak, in Southern California. Snow around 9000', but no snow on the well used trail up to 9500'. On my descent, I passed a lot of people, I didn't count, but I would guess 100. It was a Saturday. There was one downed trail that had to be climbed over. 13 miles total, 2600' net elevation gain. Beautiful views.
This trail is beautiful. You won't believe you're still in Southern California.
Be sure to get an Adventure Pass from the Forest Service; http://www.bigbear.us/adventurepass.html
Here is a map an description of the trail; http://www.bigbear.us/hike_dollarlake.html
This is considered remote hiking. Be sure to carry plenty of food and water.