Middle Fork Trail to Icehouse Saddle

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San Bernardino National Forest

Middle Fork Trail to Icehouse Saddle is a 9.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near San Bernardino, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 9.4 miles Elevation Gain: 3,635 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

bird watching

running

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

Wonderful strenuous hike up Lytle Creek canyon to icehouse saddle. If you are tired of the crowds on the icehouse canyon trail, then this one is for you. The price is an extra 1200 ft elevation gain and few extra miles. The trailhead too is down a rough road. High clearance vehicles recommended. The trail is a continuous climb up the canyon alternating between rock scree slopes and wooded trail. All in all, a pretty steep climb. Finish at the popular Icehouse Saddle where you can relax if the wind isn't too bad. The views coming down are continuous, dramatic and inspiring. The trail is sometimes small with loose rocks on the downhill side. Watch your step.

hiking
bugs
rocky
4 days ago

hiking
blowdown
bugs
rocky
washed out
4 days ago

Okay this is 11 miles beware. We were originally going to go all the way up to cucamonga peak but the 5.5 miles to the saddle is just a constant climb with very few flat sections so you get pretty worn out. Otherwise pretty nice trail. Exposed at first, then shaded most of the way up to the saddle. A few sketchy spots along the cliff side to be careful of, a few downed trees but nothing huge.

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
6 days ago

Beautiful trail. Unfortunately I was overwhelmed by the heat and the insane amount of nats and horseflys :/ I would definitely try it again on a cooler day. A fair warning the last couple miles of road to get to the trail it is pretty rough. Be ready to get your car dirty!

backpacking
rocky
snow
13 days ago

Fun 2 day backpacking trip but the hike is definitely aggressive at some points, almost the entire route was along a cliff side and you do lose the trail easily. The loop from Middle Fork trail head to Ice house Saddle was 12 miles or so, so don't be fooled by the listed 9.4. Took us 3 hours and change to get to Camanche camp site (amazing spot to camp by the way) - dropped our gear and made camp then continued on to Ice House saddle which was another 2 miles out. All in all fantastic hike with some breathtaking views, best part was having the whole camp to ourselves except for a late night visit from a bear.

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
snow
24 days ago

Went up to Cucamonga Peak today after I got to icehouse saddle. Took me 8 hours all in all, with a gain of 5400ft. Wouldn’t recommend it- snow obscures a good portion of the trail. Definitely recommend doing the peaks AFTER the snow has melted, so June perhaps. Other than the hypoxic conditions, the views were some of the most breathtaking ones I’ve experienced. The trail up to icehouse saddle is great though- lots of elevation gain. Trail is sometimes hard to find, be diligent about staying on it though.

hiking
bugs
over grown
26 days ago

Unfortunately didn’t get to finish this one. Since the road was too tough for my low clearance car, I had to hike 1.6 miles to the trailhead. I started around 4:30pm, so the sun was already behind the hills when I was only about 3 miles in, so I had to turn back before it got dark. But I was taken away by the views and the fresh air. Love the contrast between woodland and rocky slopes as well. Next time, I’m going to do my best to park at the trailhead, get a wilderness permit, and venture up to Cucomonga Peak (extra 2 miles or so)

hiking
bugs
scramble
1 month ago

This is a difficult hike, and I regularly hike in the mountains including Whitney. Many steep sections with scree and a few areas where the trail is lost due to fallen trees and some small areas of snow. It’s also 11.5 miles round trip. There were many gnats since the trail follows the water for much of the way. We actually wore our mosquito head nets (first time). We started at 7am and it did not seem that crowded on the trail. Middle Fork road was super crowded on the way back with people enjoying the Lytle Creek. Overall, we really enjoyed this trail. The creek was flowing and there was a decent amount of shade due to many trees and areas of lush foliage. Just be prepared for the difficulty which we were not expecting.

hiking
blowdown
bugs
snow
washed out
1 month ago

Hiked this trail many times but never saw so many people on this trail as I did today. I suppose since Icehouse Canyon trail is closed everybody drove around to this trail. Typical trail traffic is about a dozen or so people with 4 or 5 cars at the trailhead today I stopped counting at 100 and there were 44 cars at the car park, and out of all those people saw only 4 others wearing a face covering. On top of that there were hundreds of cars parked along the middle fork and Lytle Creek roads. If your looking for a quiet trail look elsewhere. Other than all the people on the return the trek up trail was very nice since we started before 6am. One last thing this trail is actually 12.5 miles R/T and 4,000 Ft. of elevation gain not the 9.6 miles this app says, I say this only because hiker after hiker kept asking how much further. This is not the easy hike the approach up Icehouse Canyon trail is.

hiking
blowdown
off trail
over grown
rocky
scramble
snow
1 month ago

What a great hike today (May 2, 2020). We didn't expect to see many people out, but since everything else was closed hikers flocked here. Still it wasn't too bad. There were about 5 cars at the TH when we stepped off at 0605. We saw 4 or 5 hikers or groups of hikers on our way to the saddle. I logged 5.82 miles to the saddle, my map said it was 5 and this ap has it closer to 4.8. Others, with me, had different distances as well, so I would plan for varying distances. Not all GPS are equal or register your distance the same. The trail itself was not too bad. A few downed trees and some over hanging bushes. There's are a few scree crossings (short) that are a little precarious, so be careful going through those. We didn't encounter any snow until just past Commanche Camp. Even then, it was just patches and we easily either walked through or went around them. No traction devices were needed. A few hundred feet from the saddle the snow was more prevalent on the trail, so we just headed straight up the little draw on the right to avoid it. Once we reached the saddle, we took a break and then made the decision to hike the .9 miles up to Timber Mountain. There were about 3 downed trees on the way up to Timber. No snow on the trail and just a few patches at the summit. Going up to Timber was well worth trekking the extra 1.8 miles (to and from the saddle). On our way down we decided to take another detour to the Hidden Water Fall near Third Stream Crossing. By this time the trail was getting pretty busy with hikers going up and some just heading over to the falls. The route to get to the falls is a little precarious, but once you get there it is well worth it. Just be aware, you will have to do some rock scrambling (some slippery rocks) and you will get a little wet (or a lot) ;) All in all we had a great day. Took our time and enjoyed ourselves and the trail. We ended up (with our detours) logging 14.84 miles on my GPS and just over 4500' in total elevation gain. When we returned to the TH there were about a dozen cars parked. Maybe 8 or 9 cars pullup over in various spots on the side of the dirt road. Once we hit the pavement, Middle Fork Road and Lytle Creek were lined with dozens, maybe a few hundred, cars. People, families pulled over to enjoy the creek.

This was my first hike. I would consider it difficult. I don't recommend it for new hikers.

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