South Fork to Dollar Lake Trail

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San Gorgonio Wilderness

South Fork to Dollar Lake Trail is a 11.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Banning, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 11.3 miles Elevation Gain: 2,900 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

lake

river

views

wildlife

The trail is a moderate uphill climb. Much of the hike is along a stream. There are a few rocks, but the trail is well maintained. Keep a lookout for birds, chipmunks, and lizards. You must get a permit from the Mill Creek Ranger Station for this hike.

Most of the trail is exposed because of a recent fire. Great little lake at the top. I recommend a morning hike due to the extensive exposure

hiking
muddy
8 days ago

A lot of hikers breaking out of their quarantined cells. Most heading to Dry Lake. My wife and I took the Dollar Lake Trail at the junction and never saw another hiker. Some downed trees along the trail, but easily navigated around. Dollar Lake has water and sits at the base of a snowcovered mountain. Very pretty.

backpacking
muddy
over grown
rocky
14 days ago

Mildly muddy, rocky and overgrown. Great hike to Dollar Lake! Most people go to Dry Lake so Dollar Lake is more secluded. The last 1.5ish miles is tough! But once you’re to the lake it’s gorgeous and so peaceful! Worth it! Stayed 1 night.

hiking
22 days ago

Great hike this weekend. Camped at Dollar Lake. Snow is about gone from the trail. Still is partially covering the lake. Plenty of water. A few downed trees but passable.

hiking
icy
muddy
snow
4 months ago

Bring your crampons. Trail is well traveled so there shouldn't be a problem finding your way. enjoy :)

hiking
no shade
6 months ago

Beautiful hike to the lake except there’s no lake. It is completely dry this time of year. But the trails are very scenic with the early morning lights. Bring cover as there is very little to no shade.

hiking
9 months ago

Nice trail. Summer wild flowers are blooming. Who ever like flower should go now

hiking
9 months ago

Good hike, not quite as much shade as I would have hoped due to the charred trees but still a reasonably nice route. Definitely a hot one to get to Dollar Lake and the lake itself was a little too grimy to swim in, much to my dismay. Overall an enjoyable experience with decent wildflowers, just nothing spectacular.

backpacking
9 months ago

Tough but rewarding trail. Beautiful wildflowers.

hiking
11 months ago

Did it in June 22 2019 Really clean well mark. Next time I'll be summiting San Gorgonio. still some patches of snow to the top of San Gorgonio.. you will need microspikes if you're going to be summiting San Gorgonio. call the ranger if you want to know the snow conditions when you go!.

hiking
11 months ago

Amazing trail. Forest Services has come out within the last month or so and created and alternative route to get over the creek, as well as cleared all of the downed trees blocking the trail. Tree cover was good in the morning, except for about 2 miles inside the burn area. The lake is beautiful right now. More snow than I would have expected in June.

no shade
rocky
snow
washed out
Mon Apr 29 2019

It was a little hard to find how the trail runs in the beginning and in the end. You need to cross the river within half a mile of the beginning, otherwise you will end up on the side road that will take you to the trail eventually but it's off trail. Middle of the trail is steady incline and has a lot of water on the trail ( April 2019). Majority of this trail has NO SHADE. The last part of the trail has a lot of rocks and is a steady incline to the lake. It also has a lot of snow, I did this in sneakers and never again, lol. Trail otherwise is beautiful, landscape, water, snow and mountains.

Thu Apr 25 2019

not for mounting biking to many trees on the trail

hiking
Sun Mar 31 2019

I love this trail.

hiking
Mon Jul 02 2018

A very hard trail with lots of rocks for the trail. But beautiful views

hiking
Tue Jun 19 2018

Its much harder than I was expecting more hard than moderate. Did some trail clean up while up there at the lake which was dried

hiking
Sat May 19 2018

Was looking for a new trail to hike, have been wanting to do this hike for awhile, but due to the fires in recent years it has been on hold, we also used this as a test hike for an up coming overnight camp and San G summit trip. Lots of parking available, and restrooms at the start of the trail. We started at 7:15am with 3L of water. The trail has a moderate incline at first, then it is a gradual incline for the first mile until you reach the old horse ranch. Be aware you are hiking through a burn area for a majority of the hike, but there is a different beauty in the landscape. Some people don’t like it, we on the other hand enjoyed it. We did pass a small creek with water, saw a couple deer and lots of birds. The second section, as you leave the ranch is also very moderate incline, more switch backs on this section, but the trail is easy, lots of nice views, still in the burn area. The last section, before you come to the Dollar Lake/ Dry Lake, is a straight gradual incline, not difficult at all. It took us a couple hours to reach the split, when continued up towards the right to Dollar Lake. This early section was not hit by the fires to bad, more green trees, but the trail dose change in elevation gain. Definitely steeper grade and the trail is more rocker than before. Also be aware, their is more open area as you get higher, so have your sunblock on. You still pass areas of burned out trees and manzanita bushes. Did pass one small Marsh area with a little water coming out. Good views of San Gorgonio Mountain going up Reached the split down to Dollar Lake around 11ish, no sign mark’s the trail down to Dollar Lake. It is .5 miles down. The trail is not maintained much, lots of downed trees over the trail, had to use previous rock markers to guide us down in spots. Have read that in June, a crew is going to start clearing out all the dead trees that have fallen down over the trail. Only spotted a couple camp site areas, and the lake is bone dry also. My recommendations, is not to go down their until the trail is cleared, plus it’s only 0.7 miles up to the saddle, if you don’t go down to Dollar Lake. Around 12:30 we started the decent back to the car, took out the go pro and got some nice footage of the area. Stopped at the split again, lots of water flowing down, Santa Ann Creek?, great place to fill or refill your bottles. Saw only tow other hikes the entire day, they were going to Dry Lake to camp. Got back to the car about 3:15. Next time we will hike to Dry Lake, camp, then summit San G

Sun Feb 18 2018

1 29.18 | group of 4, me and 3 other buddies, one who is not an avid hiker (he died 3/4s of the way, but we got him to push and he lived & absolutely loved the trek down!). we started around 6:45a. phenomenal! lots of snow, knee deep in parts. icy in parts as well. overall, not bad and temperatures were perfect, about 40 all day. we got back to the start about 12 hours later right before sunset. we stopped for 2 hours at dollar lake for lunch and to absorb the majesty. we have all been to dollar multiple times prior, but never with snow. completely different hike than when dry / no snow! poles are a must! have fun!

Mon Dec 18 2017

Only 4 stars now since the fire but still beautiful. Hopefully this area will come back quickly. Hiked to dollar saddle yesterday under intermittent snow flurries, made the hike just that more enjoyable.

hiking
Mon Nov 27 2017

Did this hike in September, but continued to Dollar Saddle. Beautiful hike with a reasonable grade.

hiking
Sun Sep 10 2017

Hiked to Dollar Lake this morning with overcast skies! Beautiful day for a hike. Most of the trail is well maintained except for the short segment hiking down to Dollar Lake. A lot of fallen trees blocking the trail. I gave up and just looked down. Looked dry to me. Several stream were still flowing along the way. Beautiful scenery. Good day hike

hiking
Tue Aug 22 2017

August 19, 2017 Led a group of hikers to San Gorgonio Peak via the South Fork Trail. (See my previous post below for information about the hike and getting a permit) Still plenty of water at the 4.1 mile mark where the trail splits. Taking a left will take you to Dry Lake, Mineshaft, the historic plane wreck and then loops around San Gorgonio and approaches the peak from the southwest. Continuing straight on the right, will get you to Dollar Lake Saddle and then on to the peak via the San Bernardino Divide Trail heading south and east. I carried 5 liters of water and a filter. I still had a liter left after the 20 mile hike. I did filter water with 4 miles to go for one of my hikers though. All in all, great hike and a great day. I strongly recommend advanced planning for this hike. It is not for beginners or anyone who is not in physically good condition (hiking condition). I saw a lot of people on the trail who were physically hurting or weren't sure where to go. Seems to me that kinda takes the fun out of the climb, but that's just me!

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