Vivian Creek Trail to San Gorgonio Peak is a 17.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Forest Falls, CA that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
San Gorgonio is the tallest mountain in Southern California, and a right of passage for serious hikers in the area. At 11,503', "Old Grayback" provides an excellent high altitude training for those preparing to summit Mt. Whitney, and only 90 minutes away from Orange County. There are several trails leading up to San Gorgonio, but none as steep as the Vivian Creek trail, which in less than eight miles to the summit climbs over a vertical mile. 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.
Up and up! Use your trekking poles and lean forward. One step at a time will get you there. We enjoyed a warm windless summit. Shatteringly blue skies! Great company met at the top, we were all finishing our six pack of peaks. Champagne toasts were had. Lace up the boots tight and be ready to rock surf your way back down. My group all *nearly* fell so many times it was comical. Blistered, bruised and sore our total hike time was around 10 hours. Only went thru two liters of water. Stashed and extra liter at high creek camp for the final ascent, retrieved it on the way back but still didn't drink it. I didn't drink enough. Went thru a full pack of electrolyte chews. Lost a Zion ballcap, let me know if you find it
My Gaia GPS app had this hike at 18.5 miles to and from parking lot. First mile consists of switchbacks with good elevation gain. Next couple miles is thru beautiful forest and easy hiking. Past Half Way campground, the trail starts a slightly tougher ascent, but nothing like first mile. Set up camp at High Creek, then continued to summit. Again, the trail is pleasant with amazing views until about a mile from summit, where the ascent is more difficult, but not killer. Was very cold at summit with about five minutes of light snow. Headed back to High Creek and camped for the night. Beautiful trail with some of the best views in area. Enjoy this gift, get to the summit and quit worrying about "how tough it is," because it's not.
Did this hike with my brother-in-law as preparation for Whitney in October...I'm a newbie to backpacking but have invested heavily in the lightest gear available...Our overnight trip started at 1100 and we hiked under full pack to the summit stopping at High Creek for water replenishment. I'm in decent shape but this hike was very difficult. Do the math...it averages 700 ft per mile for 8 miles! Like other reviewers mention, the middle of the trail is not too bad...but, the first mile and last two miles are butt kickers. We reached the summit at 1800 and camped for the night in one of the stone-walled campsites. Temp was in the high 30s overnight with steady wind. We were treated to great sunset and sunrise the next morning. Hiked down in in the morning in about 4 hrs...hips, knees, and feet were all barking like dogs when we reached the truck. This hike is not for the faint of heart but is extremely rewarding, nonetheless.
This hike is right around 19 miles round trip; absolutely less than 20 miles RT. We are not the most physically fit, but we're no slouches either and we found this hike to be very difficult. We've done Cucamonga Peak, Baldy, (Mt. San Antonio), and others and found Gorgonio to be in a league of it's own. As many have stated, the 1st mile is brutal; I believe it's around 1000' in elevation gain in only 1 mile. After you reach the San Gorgonio wilderness sign it becomes much more manageable. The trail climbs slowly and steadily until you reach High Creek Camp 5-6 miles from the trail head. We set up camp at high creek and donned our day packs for the remaining ~3.5 miles. Right out of high creek begins a set of switch backs for around a mile that weren't too difficult. Miles 2 & 3 out of high creek seemed unbearable as the air became thinner and the grade steeper. After we reached the trail junction signs around .5 miles from the summit it really leveled out and became totally manageable. It took us about 2 hours from High creek camp to hit the summit. As of 9/17/16 the water is plentiful at Vivian Camp and High Creek Camp.
Not 17.7 miles. Both a Fitbit and our iPhones tracked this as 25.5 miles round trip. Also the trail is bad with much loose gravel and large rocks to navigate around.
This hike is intense. Its very steep and rocky and seems to never end (I liked it more than the 20 mile San Jacinto hike though...) Took me 4 hours to summit and maybe 3 to get down...You can't run it down as fast as you want because of all the rocks. It is so worth it though. There was no one up there but me and my boyfriend and this cool lady we met...we summited together.
Tuff but very beautiful. We came across a deer (no more than 5 feet away) while we were on the trail. It was one of the our highlights. Met a few friendly hikers on the path to the top and on the way down. I always use bug spray and it was needed here.
The begining and end are the most challenging portions of the trail. Once you cross the large wash about .2 miles from the trailhead its steep switchbacks for about a mile. When you reach the "Entering San Gorgonio Wilderness" sign, it becomes a more moderate hike. It's a pleasant hike with a decent amount of shade and water source not too far up the trail (at least for now, not so sure about later in the summer). The trail becomes increasingly more difficult the closer you get to the High Creek camp which is your second and last water source. We dropped our gear here, set up camp and had some lunch. It took us about 3 hours to get to High Creek from the trailhead. After lunch the hard part started again. Its another set of steep switchbacks that end once you get above the tree line. You should have a nice view of San Jacinto to the South East at this point. The trail steadily climbs to the Peak and becomes a little hard to follow, but the destination is pretty obvious since your are on the highest peak in Socal. There are some campsites at the peak and a log book that has been cemented into the rocks. If you sign the green Rite in the Rain note pad, that was my donation :)
I loved this hike, It was challenging and well worth it. Plan for a long day because you never know what can come up.
This is definitely not for the negative minded. I reached the summit in one day but we camped at High Creek treked down in the morning. Rained cats and dogs, thunder and lightening on 7/30. Fun experience all around.
Preparation is key. Practice climbing 3000 feet with 25 pounds on your back in 2 hours or less before attempting this peak in one day unless you are camping. I have been training at Dog Mountain in the Columbia Gorge before coming here and it still took my breath away. I summited in 3:38 with a moving time of 3:06. Carry 3 liters of water and bring a water filter to top off at high creek on the way up and down. Doing that saves you a few pounds of weight and save your knees as well. I didn't bring hiking poles but wish I had them the last mile push up. I completed the hike in 5:55 then went to complete Mt Baldy the same day. Baldy was cake walk compared to San G. I wish I live closer because I would do this 2-3 times a month.
My toughest hike to date! The distance coupled with the elevation gain challenged us all. We started out at 0540 in the morning. I hiked with a group of 21 and we split into basically three levels; slow, moderate and fast. Our times ranged from 9 hours to 13.5 hours. This is a great hike with awesome views. In fact from the peak you can take a picture looking NNW and get the rocks at the peak of San Gorgonio, San Bernardino, Mt Baldy, Cucamonga Peak and Mt Wilson. These are five of the six in the SoCal Hiker Six pack of peaks challenge. The sixth peak can be seen by turning 180' and looking at San Jacinto Peak. Bring and eat lots of energy foods and bring at least 5 liters of water. I stayed hydrated all week, ate a good breakfast the morning of the hike, drank three 16 oz bottles of water (one with electrolytes) prior to the hike, and drank 4.5 liters during the hike. When I finished, my hydration pack was empty and I had one bottle of water left and gave one bottle away. I also used an electrolyte tablet twice during the hike. Would I torture my body and do this hike again? Absolutely! Such a great challenge and accomplishment.
A challenge but well worth it! That mile climb close to the beginning was a good warm up, for sure! The middle part of the hike was very enjoyable. Some exposed spots but lots of shade. The bugs didn't bother me too much. The last two miles or so were a bear - maybe the elevation was getting to me, or I was just a bit tired from the climbing earlier in the hike. No signs of elevation sickness though. View at the summit was awesome!!! 4 1/2 hours to summit and 3 hours 45 minutes to descend, so about 8 hours. My GPS showed a total of 20 miles for the out and back (my recorded track doesn't show that due to a glitch!). Went through about 4 liters of water. It was warm on the descent. A great hike, but long. To me, the descent felt like it took forever!
This hike is brutal! It's long and relentless on your feet and legs. We reached the summit in one day, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Make sure you have plenty of water and snacks as your body will need it. I really enjoyed this hike.
1. This hike is hard! The first mile is death.
2. Ive never seen more flys and bugs in my life than I have in the San Gorgonio wilderness. I think I ate about 5 flys walking down.
3. Stay at high creek because halfway camp sucks.
4. Hike early because its very hot.
Long day, challenging, gps said 19 miles
Love this hike/climb. One of my favorites.
I recommend camping on the summit, if the weather is favorable. Make sure there are no systems lining up. This is not a place I would like to be when the weather turns.
This is a beast of a hike, no matter how you slice it. Steep and long most of the way.
Plenty of water at the spring and at the creek at High Camp.
Have fun. Be safe.
Beautiful hike! It was really, really hot, but absolutely stunning views the entire trail -- everywhere: from the first river bed, all along Vivian Creek, the saddle before you hit the tree line with views of the entire Inland Empire and San Jacinto Mountain, and then of course all the way to the summit!
We summited in about 5 hours and 50 minutes, but then spent about an hour on the summit, and took about 5+ hours on our way down, chatting with fellow hikers, and helping an injured hiker (12 hours total). I've been doing this as part of the 6 pack of peaks to train for Mt. Whitney, and actually found my body to be in the least distress after this hike, despite the length and difficulty (I guess training really has helped!) -- we still have to do Baldy.
The first part of the hike is about a half mile along a dirt road, then you cross a river bed and ascend about 1000 ft in less just over a mile. The trail then follows Vivian Creek for quite a ways. You hit halfway camp, ascend up some until High Creek camp, then follow some mild switchbacks until you hit a saddle with incredible views. At the saddle, you follow a pretty steep incline until you are above the tree line. The trail bears to the right and it flattens out a bit. AMAZING views at the end. I think the second part of the trail and the last bit before it flattens out were the toughest parts. The part along Vivian Creek flies by, and is gorgeous, but bring bug spray!
Anyway, loved it, would do it again -- would recommend this for camping too. They have neat spots on the summit surrounded by rocks to prevent too much wind..
Note: My Fitbit said the hike was closer to 20 miles round trip. Almost everyone we spoke to at the summit said their pedometers, etc were showing closer to 9+ miles at the top. My boyfriend was wearing a GPS that died at 7.69 miles, before we even hit the tree line (which I'm convinced was 1-2 miles to the summit) and it didn't connect to satellites until about 1/2 a mile into the hike.