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San Bernardino Peak Trail via Angelus Oaks [CLOSED]

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San Gorgonio Wilderness

San Bernardino Peak Trail via Angelus Oaks [CLOSED] is a 16.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Angelus Oaks, California that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from June until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 16.9 mi Elevation gain 4,721 ft Route type Out & Back
Dogs on leash Backpacking Camping Hiking Forest River Views Wild flowers Wildlife Bugs Rocky Snow Closed
Description
Waypoints (4)
Contact
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Getting There

Note: As of 8/17/20, the San Gorgonio Wilderness is closed due to the Apple Fire. For more information, please see https://sgwa.org/2020/09/wilderness-closed-due-to-el-dorado-fire/ One of the best-kept secrets of Southern California is San Bernardino Mountain. Just five miles away from the highest peak in SoCal - San Gorgonio - San Bernardino tops out at a respectable 10,649 feet. Hiking from Angelus Oaks, this 15-mile out-and-back trail climbs over 4,700 vertical feet. It makes for a very long day hike or a great weekend backpacking trip. This trail has amazing views that begin very early in the hike. San Bernardino Peak is one of the lesser known (and lesser traveled) peaks in SoCal, providing a nice break from the more crowded trails like Mount San Antonio. There are three distinct sections to this trail. The first section climbs steadily up well-engineered switchbacks through oak and pine forest. You gain a lot of elevation quickly, but the trail is smooth and not too steep. The second section gently climbs through manzanita, with beautiful views to the north towards Big Bear. The trail beings to climb up the final slope as you near Limber Pines. There is a small seasonal creek that you'll cross about 1/2 mile before Limber Pines. Limber Pines is where the weekend backpackers often setup camp, and it makes a great place for a break before your final climb. The third and final section follows switchbacks up the steep slope to Washington's Monument, then parallels the ridge to the top of San Bernardino Peak. A high clearance vehicle is recommended to reach this trailhead.

The trailhead parking requires an Adventure Pass. There is a message board and the ranger regularly posts updates ("rattlesnake seen on the trail" or "be sure to carry your permit"). Check the board for any special notices before heading up the only trailhead which begins just to the left. Permits are required to hike this trail, even as a day hike, and group size is limited to a maximum of 12. Permits are free, and can be obtained from the San Bernardino National Forest Mill Creek Ranger Station in Mentone, 34701 Mill Creek Road or you can fax the permit request form to (909) 794-1125.

The trailhead is south of highway 38 in Angelus Oaks near the firestation. There is a sign posted for the trailhead in Angelus Oaks. The parking for the trailhead is roughly a half mile down a dirt road from the highway.

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Reviews (1391)
Photos (1673)
Recordings (1418)
Completed (1982)
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Ben Shear
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 5, 2020
RunningBugsGreat!

Here's some info you can use. First, the trail is not closed, it's open as of September 1st. Also, as of September 1st, you now need a permit to hike this trail. The permit is free, (https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sbnf/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD779200). This trail is also a free area. You do not need an adventure pass. The last 1/4 mile to the trail head the road is very rocky and not maintained. You 'can' do it in a car, but I probably would not. I saw one guy do it and he scrapped the bottom a few times. There are no bathrooms or water at the trail head. No services at all. The gnats are insane the first 3 miles. But, after that, they disappear. I would bring a net to wear over your head. While wearing a net is very annoying, so is having 1000 gnats trying to mate with your face. There is a lot of shade, which helped a ton with the heat. It was 76 degrees at the trailhead this morning (Sept. 4, 2020) when I started at 6:30 am. It was 91 degrees at the trailhead when I finished (around Noon). It wasn't 91 at the higher elevations (3.5 degrees per 1000 ft of elevation is the rule of thumb). As of today, September 4th, 2020, water is flowing and available at the Limber Pine spring. This spring is 6 miles from the trail head. It's about a half mile past the Limber Pine Camp, right on the trail, you can't miss it. My moving time for the whole trail was 4 hours and 57 minutes. My GPS watch recorded exactly 16 miles round trip to the peak and back with 5,223 feet of elevation gain. It's not a hard or technical trail, it's class 1 hiking the entire way. There are no crazy steep parts, it's pretty much the same all the way up (except a brief rolling flat part from mile 3-5). It's very trail runnable, if you are so inclined.

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Amanda Ahlmann
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 4, 2020
HikingBugs

It was nice going up but painful coming down. The views were very pretty but there were bugs the 1st (and last) 3 miles of the trail. Glad I checked that one off the list.

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Lynsey Mikels
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 3, 2020
HikingBugsNo shadeRocky

GNATS!!!! The gnats were the WORST thing I’ve ever experienced on a trial! At the beginning and then even worse on the way back down. I highly recommend a net for your head. I wish I had one Parking was awful! The road is not maintained at all. We tried to drive to the trail head parking and had to spend almost 20 min backing up out of the narrow road because we wouldn’t have made it through with all of the rocks! Unless you have a big car that can handle it park in the first lot you see. It’s about .4 from the trailhead. The trail itself is not very steep or hard. It’s just LONG! Me and my friend clocked 18 miles total from the further parking lot Views on the way up were awesome. At the actual peak there are tons of trees so you can’t see the views as well. I recommend taking a cute quick picture at the peak with the sign and then heading back down about 20 minutes and have lunch at that bench. Amazing views! I’ll probably be sore the next 5 days! Good luck!

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ricki perry
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 1, 2020
HikingGreat!

my favorite of socal peaks so far. water sorce 1/2 past camp it was flowing steadily as of 8/31. The bugs for the first half of the hike were awful ...only time I ever wanted a bug net

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Shumin Guo
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 30, 2020
HikingGreat!

Lots of shade on the trail, the view is great!

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Christine ORourke
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 19, 2020
HikingGreat!

Very difficult hike, much harder in my opinion than mt. wilson/cucamunga. Very steep and not a ton of shade, parts of the trail seem mystical like out of a fairy tale book.

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Adam Ortlieb
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 8, 2020

Hiked San Bernadino on 7/29. Trailhead access requires 1/2 mile offroad. It gets pretty rocky at the end. It feels really long but not as punishing as San Gorgonio due to lower elevation. I walked up on a big rattler at mile 6, just above the campsite. I drank about 4 liters.

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David Birau
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Hiking
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Mersy Maradiaga
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 2, 2020
HikingRocky

If you have a low car do not park at the trail head, the dirt road is so bumpy, with big rocks and holes. I did this mistake and scratched the bottom of my car. You can park at the very beginning of the dirt road. Goshh it’s a beautiful hike and views! It didn’t feel steep at all it was just very long and that’s what made it difficult. I drank two liters of water. Make sure you stay hydrated, there is a little creek at the top where you can filter some water. I ended up doing 18 miles because I made the wrong turn at the limber pine intersection.

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Chris Vu
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 2, 2020
HikingGreat!

18 miles round trip with ~ 4700 ft of elevation gain. Long distance make gradual climb to San Bernardino peak a fun hike! Took 6:00 hours ascending and 3:25 hours descending. There are plenty of shades the first 3 miles then pretty much exposed for the rest. Bring more than 3 quarts of water if you don’t want to collect and filter water near the top. 1/2 miles dirt road to trail parking lot is rough ( full of jagged edge rocks ) but my sedan did just fine with the clearance.

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Daniel Morales Franchini
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Hiking
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Amber Simons
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Hiking

Great hike, personally liked it better than Gorgonio that I did less than a month ago. Not quite as difficult, but the trail was much more pleasant.

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Susy Gutierrez
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Running

Awesome!!

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Daniel Morales Franchini
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HikingGreat!
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Alex Anderson
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Hiking

One of my favorite day hikes! There are incredible views almost the entire way up. I appreciated the steady grade for most of the hike- there were not many steep sections. The trail is very well maintained and the middle section through the meadow is a nice relief in both directions. The views from the top were not quite as grand as Cucamonga or Baldy, but I liked this overall hike much better.

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Trung Pham
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 1, 2020
BackpackingBugsGreat!No shadeOver grown

One of the best hikes and had a wild adventure. Note, it was a hot weekend with temp high up to 91 degrees which lead to an unfortunate event I will explain later. Did this as a backpacking trip on 8/1/20 - 8/2/20 with another friend. Started at 6:00 am and parking lot at Angelus Oak trailhead was 90% full, there were a few open spots for road side parking; the dirt road to trailhead is quite rugged so drive slowly. 80% of people wearing mask. Hike started off with sheer incline up some switchbacks, trail was maintained and shaded with outstanding views from the very beginning. Once at Manzanita Flats, trail became pretty level crossing through manzanita brushes, some areas overgrown. At trail junction, we hiked down to our campsite @ Columbine Springs, unloaded our gear and set up tent. No one was there, so we had the campground to ourselves which was pretty awesome. Good running spring water to refill our pouches, generally the camp has seasonal water source. Went back on trail with our summit packs and headed towards Limberpine Bench Campground which was more popular and crowded with backpackers (I couldn't get reservations here because it was booked solid). The views from this campground were absolutely stunning so we had to a take break. The final climb up switchbacks towards top was a challenge and mostly exposed. There is a lookout point along switchbacks with stone "bench" that gave the best views (better than the summit's in my opinion) of Inland Empire, Mill Creek, San Gorgonio Mtn. That was where we witnessed the forest fire and mushroom cloud of smoke coming from the other side of mountain range. Summitted at San Bernardino Peak as we continued to be rewarded with spectacular views from all around. There were a few people at the top having lunch while watching in awe the puff of smoke ascending from the fire. The fire seemed to be getting smaller, going in opposite direction, and was so far away that we were not concerned. After lunch, we headed back down to our campsite. Noticed the smoke in sky had disappeared and figured it was safe enough to stay for the night. Had dinner & watched the sunset at trail junction since Columbine Springs Campground was covered by forest of pine and no outlooking view. The next morning we had breakfast, packed up our tent & gear, and left towards the trailhead. When we got home, found out the Apple Fire began to spread again into San Gorgonio Wilderness, zero contained, and all hiking and camping were banned. We were lucky that we got out of there in time. Completed 21 miles within 11 hrs 25 mins of moving time. Brought 1.5 L of water but ran out by lunch time; therefore had to refill at Limberpine Bench Camp. Truly a memorable experience to witness the wild fire, but very tragic and sad to see this happen. If you are backpacking, here are some pros and cons for the 2 campgrounds - Columbine Springs: pros- less or no crowded, shaded; cons - not reliable water source (seasonal), no outlooking view point (had go up trail junction). Limberpine Bench Campground: pros- reliable water source (year-round), spectacular view at campsite; more open space and campsites; cons: more crowded, not shaded. I recommend Limberpine Bench, and I will try reserve this campsite when SGW is safe and re-open again.

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Charles Collins
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 28, 2020
HikingBugsNo shadeOff trailOver grownRocky

One of my new favorite trails! Don’t be fooled it is a long hike 16-17 miles just round trip to San Bernardino Peak (10,400ft) but the hike is constantly serving you views, VIEWS, VIEWS!! You can see Big Bear Lake, San Gorgonio, Mt Baldy, San Jacinto and San Gabriel Mtns to the west. The trailhead is a bit tricky to reach but our Honda Civic made it to the parking lot no problem, we just took the minor dirt driveway slow. The hike consists of long swooping switchbacks. There are three main sections of switchbacks that curve under and through large pines. The switchbacks are grouped into 3 main parts separated by zones of low lying manzanita and groves of taller shrubs. In the shade and manzanita the bugs are present but we brought spray and they left us alone. One of my new favorites, stay motivated and bring water. A cool side note: even in July Vivian Creek had enough water for wading which felt AMAZING after a 7 hour excursion through the mountains!

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Jenna Doolittle
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 20, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful scenery and views the entire way. We started at 715am. We parked on the side of the dirt road just down from the parking lot. I felt there was an equal amount of sun and shade throughout. I loved this hike - we completed it in 6 hours and 35 minutes. The trail wasn’t overly crowded at all. We had a wonderful time and highly recommend. The altitude didn’t bother us and we had plenty of water (lemon juice and pink Himalayan salt helps!) on us and had a snack at the Peak.

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Mark Ratzlaff
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 19, 2020
Hiking

Awesome. Water is still flowing well at the spring 1/4 mile past limber pines.

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Elena Bolino
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 19, 2020
Hiking

Really enjoyed this hike and will definitely repeat! Early start is best as a lot of the trail is exposed, remember to wear sunscreen! The short road to trail head parking is rutted but do able, drive slow and carefully and you’ll be fine. Do go early though, pulled in at 5:20am and less than 10 spots left in main lot. I wore shorts and didn’t end up with any scratches, even in the thickest part of manzanitas.

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