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South Fork Trail to Dry Lake

HARD 151 reviews

South Fork Trail to Dry Lake is a 10.9 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Angelus Oaks, California that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 10.9 miles Elevation Gain: 2,283 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

camping

cross country skiing

hiking

horseback riding

snowshoeing

bird watching

running

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

As of 5/23/19, the first half of the trail is closed and there are a few downed trees as obstacle. If you're not used to high altitude hiking, get in shape first before doing this hike. The Ranger station has the most updated map, but even then don't believe the switchbacks it displays; there are about nine or ten at the four mile mark just past the junction of three streams.

hiking
over grown
18 days ago

GREAT WORKOUT! I clocked 12 miles total as well when I got back to the South Fork parking lot. There are lots of sticker bushes on the trail so I definitely agree with the previous reviews on wearing full pants. Hiked it today, a Tuesday, and I saw only three other hikers on the trail. The lake is NOT dry, it’s low but still lots of water. Beautiful views!

hiking
closed
over grown
rocky
washed out
26 days ago

Shortly into the hike there is a detour around a closed trail section but your back on the main trail in no time. The hike is very diverse with ferns and springs to rocky old growth slopes with unfortunately lots of fire damage. Very pleasant hike to Dry Lake. If you are camping, make sure you stay to the left fork of the trail around the lake.

The trail is very easy to follow, not difficult. Well maintained. Very green and beautiful. Will definitely go back.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Good trail condition. The alternate trail on the first 1/4 mile is the steepest part. Wear pants, the shrubs are hugging the trail constantly. A few water crossings where I was thankful to have waterproof boots and poles.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
no shade
1 month ago

This was a great trail. I started at 7am, and the weather was great on the way up. Got to the lake at about 10am, hung out for an hour then headed back down. It was pretty hot going back down, but not unbearable. Still a great hike with beautiful scenery. Seemed to be a little busy today, probably due to the holiday weekend, but still pretty quiet compared to trails in the LA area.

hiking
1 month ago

Dry Lake was very full in August 2011. So it hasn't been 14 years.

hiking
no shade
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
muddy
rocky
2 months ago

It was a perfect day! Cloudy weather with temp of 70’s ! Beautiful trail with many wild flowers and streams. I saw only 6 people on the trail! So quiet and relaxing! I saw 2 beautiful deer also. There are a couple of steep uphills but not too bad. I totally enjoyed this trail!

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful, with lots of wildflowers. All clear, lots of water a short distance off trail in South Fork Santa Ana River. Quite warm but no bugs.

hiking
2 months ago

7/21/2019 Very large parking lot, Adventure Pass required. There are bathrooms and trash cans located in the upper left area of the lot. The trailhead is across the street from the bathrooms. Starting at 6:00 am I was in shade most of the way to Dry Lake. Mostly gradual gain with a couple steeper parts. There are still loads of beautiful wildflowers in bloom. There are several tiny stream crossings where you’d have to work hard to get wet and a couple crossings where having poles definitely helps walking on rocks and logs. Cresting a small hill brings Dry Lake in view and it did not disappoint. There is still a lot of water, but the water level has dropped several feet. Definitely a Five Star hike! Trail Rating ***** I’d do it again tomorrow **** I’ll do it again, after I hike new trails ***I’ll do it again if someone asks **I’ll begrudgingly do it again *I’ll never do it again

backpacking
bugs
2 months ago

Amazing trail soooo green. The lake was pretty full but I was told by the ranger that it was so full it was pouring out. Yes Rangers checking permits for overnighters.

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome day hike. Got a permit for an overnight at dry lake so spent the night. The lake is full for the first time in 14 years per the rangers. Beautiful views, great temperatures. Trail has a decent gain but is short. Nice halfway point to the summit. Wildflowers everywhere and plenty of water at the crossings.

hiking
bugs
no shade
3 months ago

We started at 5:45am and had shade nearly all of the way up. Lake still full. Abundant wildflowers, especially in the switchbacks. Lots of water in creek crossings. Started back down at 9am and the sun was brutal. 4 liters of water.

hiking
3 months ago

This is my absolute favorite hike in the area! There is still a detour at the start of the trail, but it is well-marked and easily negotiable. Trails crews have been busy since I was there last about a month ago. A lot of scrub has been cleared off of the trail and downed trees have been cut...no more climbing over! Flowers are in abundance and streams are flowing. You can avoid wet boots by easily rock-hopping or crossing on logs. Dry Lake is still full and beautiful. Don't know how long it will last...get there before it's gone!

hiking
3 months ago

Moderately challenging trail. Lots of wildflowers & butterflies. We even saw 3 deers on our return at dusk. The trail has lots of gravel & rocks so make sure to have shoes with good ankle support. Three river crossing so waterproof shoes are a must. There are 7 switchbacks at the end. The lake right now is full of water & just gorgeous. Perfect place to tie a hammock, picnic, & chill. It’s kinda sad to see the burnt trees all along the way. Lots of new flora tho. Bring tons of water.

hiking
3 months ago

This is a new favorite hike. It starts out very steep but then adjusts to a great, gradual incline. The whole way to the lake is an ascent, mostly along a river. The 2015 fire took out a lot of the shade, so the hike is exposed and sunny most of the way. Tons of wild life and growth though! The lake is full, cool, and beautiful. This is a great, challenging hike.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful hike for Father’s Day. The wild flowers were in full bloom, the streams were flowing, and the lake was full. Lots of backpackers were exiting as we were hiking up to the lake.

hiking
4 months ago

As of Saturday, May 4th, the lake was brimming with water. The first half mile of the trail is closed off due to washout. There is an alternative route marked by pink and orange flags at the trailhead. There were a number of down trees but most are easily crossed. There is one down tree on the second switchback during the last 1.5 mile stretch that requires some caution to negotiate and a considerable amount of icy snow and slush during the last quarter mile. Dry Lake and the surrounding mountains are in fabulous form after the winter storms we had and are well worth the effort.

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked last weekend. There are several detours along the way to get around parts of the trail that have been either washed out or around large fell trees across the trail. The hike is worth it just to see all the water in the lake and the snow around the lake. Beautiful!!!!!! Don’t wait too long!

hiking
blowdown
bridge out
muddy
off trail
rocky
scramble
washed out
5 months ago

The trail at least early on (first 1/4 mile) is in bad shape. Had to turn around and take a different fire road route up to poopout hill. The trail is for sure completely gone in places, and almost gone in others, and indeed potentially dangerous. Regarding our "fire road route", at least up to poopout hill snow was not an issue. There was about 200 yards of single track (usual rote just above horse meadow) where you have mud and water on the trail, but easily forged without getting wet at all. No significant wild flowers at present, but will likely occur in about 1 - 2 months time. Last year, it was very impressive in the first few weeks of June.

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