Photos of Lost Creek, Aspen Grove, Fish Creek and Dry Lake Loop

Distance: 19.7 miles Elevation Gain: 3,937 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

forest

lake

views

over grown

scramble

washed out

off trail

hiking
off trail
over grown
rocky
scramble
washed out
1 month ago

This is a classic loop for San Gorgonio wilderness, although unfortunately several of the trails were affected by the fire. Although these trails are technically "open", camping areas along them are closed, and the trail conditions range from poor to non-existent. That said, I would rate this route as mostly "maximum solitude." If this is your first hike in SG wilderness, look elsewhere. I parked across the street in a turnout from highway 38 near one of the entrances to the Santa ana river trail, about a half mile east of south fork campground. Alternatively you can start at South Fork Campground. I started at 7:30am and followed the creek towards Aspen grove. I brought 4L of water. The trail was completely overgrown in most areas, but had a lot of fun creek crossings (fell in twice). Doing it again, I would bring a machete to help out with some of the more difficult areas, especially the overhead tall grasses. Aspen grove trailhead was in very good condition, although unfortunately all of the large quaking aspen trees were burned down. Great views of San Gorgonio throughout. I was unable to secure a camping permit for dry lake, so I opted to instead cut south to mineshaft flats, and then down to big pine campground. There was a ton of water flowing into North fork creek, and you can see part of Joshua tree in the distance. I arrived around 5pm. Note big pine is marked incorrectly on a lot of maps; after you see the pine tree standing in the meadow, keep following the creek down another 1/4 mile. Big pine campground is located the north/east side of the creek, near a giant burned downed pine tree. There are numerous flat spots to camp, and you can hear the creek. This area is relatively sheltered from the wind, although there was light rain and 30 mph gusts at night. The next morning was fairly easy hiking back up to mineshaft saddle, and I had a nice lunch overlooking dry lake. I filled up 4L water at the top of the springs before mineshaft saddle. This route intersects with dry lake trail for a few miles, then take the east turnoff that is blocked by a log to get on to lost creek trail. This trail was extremely challenging, with most sections either washed out or completely overgrown. Every 50 feet there is a 3 ft diameter burned tree to climb over or walk around. I was averaging less than a mile and hour, and some sections are on extremely steep terrain. I saw no other hikers on either the santa ana river trail to aspen grove or anywhere on the lost creek trails, but did see some deer. Blackened by ash and bleeding from cactus wounds, I arrived back at South Fork campground, then walked highway 38 east back to my car about 8 hours from when I started at big pine. Overall a beautiful isolated area of san gorgonio wilderness, but I wouldn't recommend the lost creek trail portion at this time. If you decide you want to hike this loop, hiking poles, a machete, and gaitors are recommended.

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