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South Fork Trail to San Gorgonio Mountain via Mine Shaft Saddle

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San Bernardino National Forest

South Fork Trail to San Gorgonio Mountain via Mine Shaft Saddle is a 20 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Forest Falls, California that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 20.0 miles Elevation Gain: 4,678 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

cross country skiing

hiking

horseback riding

snowshoeing

running

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

This is the long distance high altitude hike which is legendary. Best done in two days with overnight primitive camping at Dry Lake, Lodgepole, or Trail Flat. Water is found (seasonal creeks, check w/ Ranger) about four miles in at the junction of three creeks, then at Lodgepole Spring by Dry Lake. Not for the faint of heart, altitude and pack weight are serious factors. Done right, sea level hikers will have a day to acclimatize to the altitude before making the ascent to Mt. San Gorgonio from Dry Lake or Lodgepole camp sites. Overachievers can push to Fish Creek Saddle or Trail Flat camps.

Went to the summit via dry lake. Lots of water. From 9500 to summit is snow still. Slush in afternoon. I ended up just straight lining at one point. Coming up dollar lake is easier. Not water above the lakes. Amazingly beautiful.

hiking
blowdown
icy
snow
washed out
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

02/09/2020 Hiked The South Fork Trail To The Summit Of Mount San Gorgonio. Went up one of The North Facing Chutes. Lots of snow still. Micro spikes, trekking poles and gaiters are highly recommended. If you plan on doing the chute then Crampons And Ice Axe are needed. Started at 3:30am summited at 10:30 back to the car at 3:30pm. So 12 hours to complete. Lots of fallen trees on the trail, but easy to navigate around.

hiking
6 months ago

I hiked the South Fork trail to Mount San Gorgonio back in early September. I was in tip top shape (previous hiked a 13er) so i was well acclimated and decide to tackle this trail with beating my PR in mind. I started at 7am with my pack only weighing approximately 7 pounds. Carried two 1L smart waters, a 1L Katadyne filter and a few snacks. This trail is long and by the 8 mile in i was a but underwhelmed since the trail lacks “steepness”. I’m no way complaining but it’s such a gradual trail that one may get bored after the 7 or 8 mile in. Made it to the summit in 4 hours and 25 minutes (11:25am reach summit) and descend time was 3 hours and 40 minutes. This is a great alternative to Vivian Creek as it has a lot less people and has a very moderate incline. Catch me on the Fish Creek Trail now that it’s open after 4 years.

hiking
rocky
7 months ago

Quite windy today, especially at the summit. Did a day hike going up by Dollar Lake and down by Dry Lake. 5 1/2 hours up and 4 hours down. Started at 6am. It started to get light at 6:30 and by 6:45, I didn’t need my headlamp. Going up was a grind from where the loop splits to Dollar Saddle. From there, it wasn’t steep, but the altitude was a challenge for me, having started the day at sea level. I’m glad I had a warm coat with a hood AND a light windbreaker. Switching out a couple times made the trip more comfortable. The trails are very easy to follow and the signs are great! Kudos to the trail maintenance crew! That one treacherous spot near the summit on the Dry Lake side was a knee knocker, but if you take your time and make sure of your hand and feet positions, it’s easy to get by. All in all, a fantastic hike. I’ll be back again next year.

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful, well maintained trail to a great vista at the top! Did as a day hike, took us just under 9 hours, so start early. Still a lot of water before and including Dry Lake.

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful Hike. Camped out at dry lake. It’s hard to figure out exactly where to set up camp at dry lake. Poorly marked. Ranger Mike and Dan were very funny, nice and helpful. The Hike is definitely difficult with heavy pack but well worth it.

Only to plane crash site

hiking
off trail
over grown
rocky
washed out
8 months ago

Definitely a hard hike with a full pack. Found that you need to make sure to keep to the left fork at Dry Lake to the camp sites. There is no sign to guide you if you take the right fork of the trail. There is one sign on the right side just off the trail that states "No Camping Here" and probably should state "No Camping in this Area" implying the whole west side of the lake. Definitely not clear. The ranger definitely cleared it up. All and all, a wonderful hike!

backpacking
no shade
8 months ago

This is an awesome trail even after the fire damage from a few years ago. I attempted this in mid June and went up the dry lake side camping at trail flats. The second day I was stopped by the snow when I reached the switch backs. I had already slipped and slid down the mountain once on the traverse approach. This time I took the dollar lake side up and camped at dollar lake to acclimate. Day two I hiked to the summit and down the dry lake side. The bugs were mild but there. Mosquitoes came out in the evening. My gps said the trip was approximately 21.5 miles. The heat was a factor at times but Sunday there was cloud cover in the morning and later again in afternoon. The views were amazing from the high country.

hiking
9 months ago

Took Dollar lake up to summit San Gorgonio then Down Mineshaft trail pass the military plane wreck/ memorial then down to dry lake. logged 24 miles not 22 since I turn off my gps in some point. great trail to train for long distance . it's a long day for a day hike

hiking
9 months ago

Started at 8:15 am and finished the loop in the dark at 8:30 pm... trail is well graded and has awesome views. Left the summit at 4pm and was fortunate to meet up with some other late hikers and we shared phone lights. Dry Lake was beautiful, downed bomber made for an interesting twist... Wondering if Steph from LH was part of the group I met early on...I grew up in LH. Anyways...great day!!

hiking
9 months ago

Such a beautiful trail. I like this much better than the Vivian Creek hike. It's 4 miles longer but not as steep so you can move quickly. I finished this faster than either of my previous hikes from Vivian Creek and the views are much better. No snow on the trail but a couple patches left around if you want to get in it. Dry lake needs to be renamed this summer. It was full!

hiking
9 months ago

Well it's finally done. My final peak in the six pack of peaks. Deducting one star (would have been 4) because the loop on the way back clockwise on South Fork Trail was MISERABLE. Very loose rock on the descent made for a horrendous hike back. If we had taken the way we came up South Fork and went back the same way to make it an out n' back instead of a loop it would have been much better. Hardly any hikers on South Fork which was nice since Vivian looked way too busy as we met up with those hikers on the way to the peak. Dry Lake is not dry at all right now and beautiful. Despite the trail conditions on the way back it was a beautiful day and quite an accomplishment. TIPS: (1) Leave early to beat the heat; (2) Reapply sunscreen - don't get burned like I did (idiot!) (3) Pack plenty of snacks & water (4) Do South Fork out n' back not the loop - miserable trail conditions on the way back (we went clockwise) or stage cars and include Vivian with South Fork

hiking
9 months ago

Great, long trail with the best views. There is still a snow patch that you have to go around behind San Gorgonio on the Dry Lake route. Never knew of the crashed military plane that you pass by.

hiking
10 months ago

Love it here breath taking San Gorgonio is amazing!

backpacking
10 months ago

A long but moderately pitched climb up to the summit. Beautiful views on a clear night. There are several tent sites at the top complete with stone windbreaks. One steep traverse of snow on the Sky High Trail about 3/4 mile before the summit junction. I did it just fine in trail Runners and no poles, but I could see how it could make someone nervous. It’s a long way down. Trail got a little hard to follow about 2 miles before Dry Lake where an avalanche brought down a bunch of large trees and obscured the track for a hundred yards.

hiking
11 months ago

One of the most beautiful trails but the longest. Recommend starting super early to make it back before sunset. Small patches of snow on the trail starting right before you get to the saddle. Recommend micro spikes even though it is for a few areas before you get to the summit.

hiking
rocky
snow
11 months ago

backpacking
muddy
snow
11 months ago

I'm surprised how few people are on this trail; I think we only saw about 12 other hikers the entire time. Headed out from the parking lot around 9am, arrived at dry lake view camp around 3pm. Poles were fine to deal with short snow sections of the trail up until dollar lake saddle. After than, recommended at a minimum microspikes and a GPS unit as the trail was completely snowed and iced over in many spots. My friend only had poles, so I cut steps for both of us with an ice axe. Dry lake view was an amazing camping spot, with incredible views of the mountain and surrounding peaks. The treeline also provided good shelter from the wind, and there were several snow-free areas to setup tents. Do guard against varmints though, as they were prowling. Left camp at 6am for the summit; we made it about halfway up the first incline before spikes/crampons were necessary. Most of the snow had consolidated/frozen nicely, and made for easy climbing. Short sections of the trail were snow free, but navigation was still challenging and required constant GPS checking. After reaching vivian creek trail junction, most of the snow is cleared. Arrived at the summit around 11am, took a nap, and then descended to break camp. The afternoon sun had melted much of the snow significantly, making it challenging to descend safely. We made it back to the car a little before 6pm. Significant hail until we made it to dollar saddle. Overall a really nice trail; I think some people may avoid it because of all the fire damage in the first 3-4 miles. Pretty much complete solitude, but come prepared with spikes and poles.

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