South Fork Trail to Dry Lake

HARD 25 reviews

South Fork Trail to Dry Lake is a 11.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Angelus Oaks, CA that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

11.1 miles 2217 feet Loop

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

cross country skiing

horseback riding

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

Distance: 12.5 miles RT Elevation gain: 2400 ft Hike time: 6-7 hours Difficulty: Strenuous Trail condition: well maintained Hike type: out and back If you're not used to high altitude hiking, get in shape first before doing this six mile hike. The Ranger station has the most updated map, but even then don't believe the switchbacks it displays; there are about nine or ten at the four mile mark just past the junction of three streams.

3 months ago

Trail closed

1 year ago

hiking
1 year ago

It still gets chilly in the first week of April up there, and you are even likely to find snow and ice once your get above 8,000 feet or so. It depends on the year. This is a very strenuous hike to do in one day, but absolutely worth it. I highly recommend it. Dry Lake is a great spot to eat lunch before you head back to the trailhead.

hiking
2 years ago

Wow! Can't believe its been a year since I did this trail. It was a special treat today! The weather was perfect and a bit on the warm side. When I got to Dry Lake I decided to "take the plunge" and try the loop that lies above the Lake. I started out heading toward "Lodgepole" It was a difficult trail that was not easy to follow. I was "sweating" and not because of the heat…At times I wasn't sure if I was on the trail. I was soooo glad to get to Fish Creek Camp or saddle. From there the trail was very distinct. It was an awesome loop to do if you are brave enough to forge through the unknown forest…Haha! I was sure glad I did. This loop was amazing and the formidable views of Gray Back looming over you was just breathtaking! I highly recommend this adventure….but take some company for encouragement!

hiking
2 years ago

Great hike!!! Beautiful & well graded. There are some traverses with exposure, but not too bad, just slow down a bit. We will definitely do this one again some time!

hiking
2 years ago

The trail has plenty of water sources, however, when we reached Dry Lake...the lake was really DRY. Dogs are allowed on the trail. Awesome views of the San Bernardino Mountain range.

hiking
2 years ago

Did this hike on 10/16/13 with just me and my dog. Left the south fork trailhead around noon and got up to dry lake in around 3.5 hours including breaks and filling my water. Filled up at south fork meadows (plenty of water here) then again at lodgepole springs (water is flowing). Snow was scattered and mostly only in the shaded areas on the north facing slopes. Camped at lodgepole springs. Got pretty cold at night and didn't get above 32 till after 9AM. It was a nice hike and the weather was perfect the whole way. Only saw about 5 people on the way up and only 1 person on the way down. I would definitely recommend this hike

hiking
2 years ago

Great trail and wonderful time spent at Lodgepole camp. The water source was good but very minimal. Lake was dry when I went. The trail heading out from there to the summit is sketchy at best. Very rocky. But it opens up after about a half a mile or so.

hiking
3 years ago

I love this trail and I enjoy that you can have a few destination choices upon departure. Up to dry lake has its challenges. There is quite a rocky dry stream bed that you hike alone. So the footing is uneven and difficult at times. Once at the top the little lake is quite picturesque. I went with friends from a meet up group.

hiking
3 years ago

Just finished a mid summer hike up to dry lake from South Fork. It's always a fun hike, but remember to bring poles if you have weak knees. It is uphill the whole way. Once at Dry Lake, continue to the left towards Lodge Pole Springs. It is a great little spring where you can purify and fill up your canteen. Do people still use those?!

camping
3 years ago

Very moderate hike to Dry Lake campsite from the trailhead. We didn't know how cold it gets in the middle of November although we expected it to be very cold. It was really really cold. We think that the temperature dipped to probably around below 20s. It got dark quickly, and since we couldn't have camp fires, we just talked quite a bit till we called it a day quite early... like 8ish. Thanks to my Marmot sleeping bag with 15 rating, I slept without dealing with the cold. It was quite warm inside. Overall, it was a great backpacking experience! Can't wait to go back and reach the summit next time when it's a bit warmer! :)

camping
3 years ago

Late season backpacking into a wilderness area, with Redlands at 95 degrees we were experiencing 15 degree nights. No stranger to high altitude camping I brought layers, my girlfriend and I were in top condition but this hike was tough enough to brutalize two of our friends who came along. Former Marines, they had a few choice words to say about the hike and its altitude gains along with the temperature drop at nightfall. One that summed it up: extreme. All four of us were a few hours late to the trailhead so we ended up hiking the 6.5 miles most of the way in the dark. Headlamps are smart, trekking poles would have been smarter.

The area was surreal - two of us hiked nearly all the way to the top of Mt. San Gorgonio and returned to a quiet night with no other campers in sight. The changing season made most of the weekenders think twice about staying two nights in three season tents and forty degree bags. We used one of the Marine's suggestions and put a space blanket over our foam mattresses, then a sleeping bag liner, then shared a 20 degree mummy bag with a bivvy sack on top - all inside the tent!

Be aware there are wildlife corridors. With hunting season the deer aren't stupid; they hang around on the trails hoping not to get shot. With deer come mountain lions, so take smart precautions since this late season makes for a perfect storm of events - few hikers, lots of deer, and some trails heading off from Dry Lake will put your return facing downhill. We saw cat tracks which were hours old when going up the draw on a non-maintained trail from Lodgepole spring located close to Dry Lake.

The return down the hill was beautiful. We had missed the truly awesome colors of the creek - I intend to bring a great SLR camera back and take stills. The switchbacks which had heralded such a tough evening two nights prior were much easier going back down, and the four mile stretch back to the South Fork trailhead was scenic and quiet. We talked of what real food we would eat first after our three days of camping fare. Of the hundred or so cars there on Saturday, on our return Monday ours was the only car. Do it again? You betcha!

hiking
3 years ago

Late season backpacking into a wilderness area, with Redlands at 95 degrees we were experiencing 15 degree nights. No stranger to high altitude camping I brought layers, my girlfriend and I were in top condition but this hike was tough enough to brutalize two of our friends who came along. Former Marines, they had a few choice words to say about the hike and its altitude gains along with the temperature drop at nightfall. One that summed it up: extreme. All four of us were a few hours late to the trailhead so we ended up hiking the 6.5 miles most of the way in the dark. Headlamps are smart, trekking poles would have been smarter.

The area was surreal - two of us hiked nearly all the way to the top of Mt. San Gorgonio and returned to a quiet night with no other campers in sight. The changing season made most of the weekenders think twice about staying two nights in three season tents and forty degree bags. We used one of the Marine's suggestions and put a space blanket over our foam mattresses, then a sleeping bag liner, then shared a 20 degree mummy bag with a bivvy sack on top - all inside the tent!

Be aware there are wildlife corridors. With hunting season the deer aren't stupid; they hang around on the trails hoping not to get shot. With deer come mountain lions, so take smart precautions since this late season makes for a perfect storm of events - few hikers, lots of deer, and some trails heading off from Dry Lake will put your return facing downhill. We saw cat tracks which were hours old when going up the draw on a non-maintained trail from the spring located close to Dry Lake.

The return down the hill was beautiful. We had missed the truly awesome colors of the creek - I intend to bring a great SLR camera back and take stills. The switchbacks which had heralded such a tough evening two nights prior were much easier going back down, and the four mile stretch back to the South Fork trailhead was scenic and quiet. We talked of what real food we would eat first after our three days of camping fare. Of the hundred or so cars there on Saturday, on our return Monday ours was the only car. Do it again? You betcha!

hiking
3 years ago

hiking
3 years ago

I hiked this trail over the summer and really enjoyed it. I took my dog, Buddy, and we had a nice full day of hiking. It is a full day hike if you want to take your time and spend a while at the top. I am thinking about going back and camping at the lake next time because I would love to spend more time up there. The trail is well-kept, easy to follow, and scenic throughout. It has fantastic views and is clean and pristine.

hiking
4 years ago

Great beginner backpack trail. Ready to do it again soon. I recommend staying the night at Dry Lake, then climbing Gorgiono Summit the next day.
The incline is smooth most of the way, but the last third of the way up is grueling loose rocks.

camping
4 years ago

My first backpacking trip. Was not what I call beginner, yet my group kept me going! It all payed off in the end! Beautiful trail! Lots of places to take a break, if needed! Dry Lake was not dry! There's a natural stream about 5 min from the back side of the lake! Up was about 6 hours for me a beginner to hit camp! And down was about 2.5 hours! Very fun well traveled lots of rangers!

hiking
4 years ago

We hiked it in june '12! It was more like 12 miles in and back. We stayed overnight at Dry Lake and it got pretty cold that night. It is straight up all the way in so be prepared! Also got my permits checked by like 4 different park rangers! It is a nice hike however not as recluse as expected due to the park rangers and all the day hikers!

hiking
4 years ago

Did this hike this weekend, started at Southfork trailhead, hiked about 6 miles to Dry Lake campground ad stayed there until Sunday. The views are spectacular, weather perfect and not a whole lot of hikers. Then why am I just giving the trail 3 stars? Almost half of the trail is ROCKY! I mean crushed, jagged rocks! One misstep and you twist your ankle. One misstep and you slide and lose your balance. Not good if you are 6 miles into the wilderness. Aside from that, trail is clearly marked.

hiking
4 years ago

Love to see the headwaters of the Santa Ana. Beautiful forest.