South Fork Trail to San Gorgonio Mountain via Mine Shaft Saddle

HARD 70 reviews

South Fork Trail to San Gorgonio Mountain via Mine Shaft Saddle is a 20 mile moderately 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.

20.0 miles
4,678 feet

dogs on leash



cross country skiing


horseback riding


trail running







wild flowers





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.

1 day ago

What a great hike! it had been 19 years since I last hiked this mountain. The All Trails app is so awesome and helpful. There were a couple times when the trail wasn’t clearly marked. One was on the descent and there was no marker for the San Bernardino and Vivian creek Trail but the app got me on course. Also while approaching Dollar Lake, there was a meadow where the trail basically disappeared with no markers but the app was right on. I was amazed at how many people were at the summit (approx 60) on this day. Weather was a perfect 63 degrees with slight wind until past Dry Lake then it picked up and increased all the way up. Consumed 4.5 liters of water. Last source of water on the way up was about 1/2 mike from Dry Lake with a small spring bubbling up on the trail. Lots of dead trees from past fires and saw 3 blow over from the wind. No wildlife to speak of except birds.

26 days ago

Did this once in January and again yesterday. In winter there was no trail above dry lake, it is a proper mountaineering experience if you want to get to the summit (and safer to climb it direct vs trying to find a trail anyways). The closest thing to a big mountain wilderness experience you can find in So Cal. Just returned as a training hike and not another soul on the mountain. I started at 1pm and setup camp on the summit at ~7pm, took 4 hours to get down in the am. When snowless it is still just as beautiful, probably my favorite trail in So. Cal.

2 months ago

Great hike just peaked Greyback via dollar lake trail on July 3, 2017. Weather was spectacular. Loved this way up better than Vivvian Creek. Longer but not crazy verticle like Vivvian. The best source of water is at the trail divide. Yes there is water at High Meadows but tough to find and tough to get at. Stayed over night at Red campground great spot.

3 months ago

Loved this hike. My recording showed just over 8 hours of active hiking (not counting camping time or time at the top), so could definitely be done in a day. But I hiked to Trail Flats Camp (7miles, 3.5hrs), camped, and finished the loop the next day.

Lightly trafficked, I didn’t see many people at all. Vivian Creek is a busier route to the summit, and your run into those hikers at the top.

I chose to ascend via the eastern side of the mountain. That side of the loop is slightly longer than the western side, but not by much. My gps said 11 miles when I reached the summit.

Trail Flats was a great campsite. No water though, and no views. The only other camp site I actually saw was the summit camp - very exposed, but there are rock shelters set up. All of the other camp sites are a little away from the trail so I didn’t see them.

The only obvious water source right at the trail is at the loop fork three miles in. Other than that, you will have to go off trail to find water. I filled up 4 liters at the fork and it lasted me the whole loop.

3 months ago

Backpacked this a couple of months ago, such a rad trail! Had to turn around because we couldn’t see the trail anymore under the snow

3 months ago

3 months ago

Did this yesterday and it was amazing. Still a little snow on the side of the trail towards the summit but nothing to worry about.

Weather was beautiful - didn’t need much more than 2 layers for most of the hike but it did get cold later in the shade.

We did it all in one go - took 9.5 hours including about 45 mins hanging on the summit - we were moving fairly quickly and packed super light.

The views going up the mountain after dry lake are incredible. Highly recommended.

4 months ago

Too much snow to summit this route right now. Wait until summer. Crampons are not enough. Need ice axe and rope. Had to turn back after 9 miles.

7 months ago

Just got back . Did a gear shake down that didn't go well. To cold for iPhone after a couple miles. I wasn't the only one up there although it wasn't crowded at all. You could summit and many I talked to did. Cramp-ons needed so I came up 1,000 ft' or so short of the top. My water bladder froze during the night but all my other gear worked well. This was a spur of the moment thing for me but I am going back to get some pictures and get to the dang top. Watch the elevation change. Made me a little dizzy on the way up so be prepared for that if you think it may take a toll on you. I did a face plant into a large bolder but my teeth are still intact :

7 months ago

We hiked and backpack Mt San Gorgonio at 11,503ft over 22 miles, November 2017. The nights were so cold, below 40F, that our toes were frozen that we couldn’t even feel them and endlessness sleeping nights. Hiked in the dark for 6 miles without headlamps using the night sky to navigated our descent back to base camp from the peak and the trails.

8 months ago

Last person to summit in 2017! Lucky to have scored this hike at end of Dec. Made the summit in 3hr 45min

9 months ago

Beautiful way to summit. No water right now past the dry lake and dollar lake junction. Pack accordingly.

11 months ago

Hiked this trail on Sunday, Oct 1st. This was my third summit this year of San Gorgonio. My first was from the Momyer Creek Trail. It was the longest of the three (about 24 miles), but well worth hiking the distance. I got caught in thunder showers once I hit Dollar Lake Saddle on that day.

My second summit was from the South Fork Trail via Dollar Lake. This was the shortest, but definitely the hardest (about 20 miles). Once you hit the split which either takes you to Dry Lake (to the southeast) or Dollar Lake Saddle (to the southwest), take the southwest route. It becomes very steep. You'll climb 1770' in 2.4 miles.

My third summit was also from the South Fork Trail. Instead of heading up the Dollar Lake trail, we head up the Dry Lake trail to do the loop. This one was about 22 miles and definitely the easiest of the three. In fact, although it is 4 miles longer than Vivian Creek, I would say it is easier than Vivian Creek too. Just long. If you have a filter I recommend topping off water at the Dry Lake/Dollar Lake split on the way up and down. All in all this was an awesome hike. I enjoyed seeing the C47 Monument.

11 months ago

Great and long hike. But well worth it. Crossed couple of streams. You have to start early as 6am to get back on time back to your car.

11 months ago

Just did the loop today - first time back since the fire. Such awesome/beautiful/terrifying landscape! I'm kind of fast so it was 7:15 total time....but bring water! The creek at the 5km+/- mark is the only water heading up and the only water coming down.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Awesome hike, but definitely an ass kicker!! Go well prepared and take lots of water. Took us 12 hours to complete hike.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wildflowers are amazing!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Serene landscape. I hiked cross country and then to the trail so I did not see the closed sign at the entrance: the trail was unfortunately closed due to a recent fire. A ranger stopped me half way and send me back. The landscape is fascinating offering now a partially burnt forest with rich new vegetation and flowers starting to build a new forest. The ranger informed me that is was closed for 2 years due to a fire but will maybe reopen later this year (status June 2017).
Ranger's office closed at 4 or 4:30 pm- so better to arrive early to get a permit.

Friday, January 13, 2017

awesome trail.even got lost in it. done it a few times.

Monday, September 14, 2015

I have done this trail six times and keep conibg back for more!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

A wonderful but very long hike. Just an amazing experience. Did it in two days, one night. Spent the night at dry lake, made it to the summit the next morning at about noon. The hike from Dry Lake to the summit is pretty gnarly. But if I can offer any advice, it's this: BRING PLENTY OF WATER!!! There was only one spot (about 3 miles from the trailhead) where you could fill up. Other than that, nada!!! And make sure you have your permit. I saw zero hikers, but five backcountry volunteers who were nice but eager to check to my credentials, which is cool. I am glad someone is keeping on eye our wildernesses.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

This is a great hike for late spring. Be prepared for the elevation change, take your time, and have plenty of water. Some of the best views you'll ever see of the area. Awesome camping! We had the whole mountain to ourselves with only a few hikers passing by from time to time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

This is by far my favorite of all of the hikes I've done in SoCal. We went in early May and there was still plenty of snow on top. The mountain actually got a storm the day before we went so the snow went all the way down to the South Fork trailhead parking lot at 6200'. We summoned the first day after going up on the dry lake side, then went down on the Dollar lake side and camped at High Meadow. If you've never done this hike before, don't try to do it in a day. There is so much to take in and look at that all gets wasted when you're In a hurry. Other than melting snow, our only source of water was at the trail split down at south Fork Meadows.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Did this is a Whitney trainer and it is a beast when done in a day. On a par with Half Dome in a day from the Valley, if you ask me. I encircled the whole mountain by heading up via Dollar Lake saddle, and down via Dry Lake. Cool idea and glad I can say I did it, but surviving it as a day hike is not the way to go. Backpack it to avoid the agony in your legs and feet and really enjoy this area which is quite special. The highlight is obviously the highest point in Southern California. Bring a map because although some areas are very nicely marked/signed, some critical ones are completely devoid of marking, the Dry Lake Trail when heading down from the camp at Dry Lake being a fine example. Only coming up is there a sign. As for my times, up in almost exactly 5 hours, down in a tad less and I was moving. Sky View trail is how you access the summit after Dry Lake, and it's a cool trail, but be prepared for a somewhat tedious, repetitive experience. It's just a lot of traversing of scree fields and then switchbacks. Monotonous for sure. The Dollar Lake route is prettier. The summit offers spectacular views and bragging rights.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Did it in one day last year. Training for Whitney. Beautiful hike

Friday, September 05, 2014

We went from the South Fork trailhead (not the campground), stayed at Lodgepole first night, summited the next afternoon. We were supposed to stay at High Meadow the second night, but got insanely lost and ended up leaving.

We went beginning of August, and there was no water. Anywhere. The creek at South Meadows had barely enough to filter. The springs we were told (by the rangers!) we could use were bone dry. We ended up out of water and almost passing out from dehydration after summitting.

If you're not an experienced hiker, don't do this as a day hike. Stay a night halfway. Your body and sanity will thank you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

by far my favorite trail, great for training and a must do for any socal backpacker. There are multiple peaks/ views with drop boxes and sign in logs. I suggest starting at the lower parking lot along Jenks road, hike to jackstraw for night 1, then uppermeadow night2, drop your packs at the saddle and day hike San g. then return via dry lake to Jenks road. If you're tired after San g, spend the night at dry lake, the hike from dry lake to Jenks is cake, but it seems to take forever

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Amazing view looking down on San Jacinto from the peak. Great piney scenery and semi shaded trails throughout much of the beginning of this hike make it one of my favorites. Be careful to check water availability and snow/ice conditions before picking a place to set up camp. Lots of the water sources are diminished due to a very dry year. Icy trails here are treacherous and have recently claimed the life a moderately experienced hiker.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Did it in one day but we were in good condition. Altitude got to one of our group and they didn't get to the summit. Funny to see chipmunks living in the rocks at the top. They come right up to you and take food from your hand. Incredible views. Highest spot in Southern California. There are bears around the camping and picnic areas, so careful!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Booty-kicking backpack trip. My friends and I hiked all the way to High Meadow Spring which was gorgeous. Then we hiked to the top and stayed the night protected by the rock cairns left by others. BRING EARPLUGS is you do this because your tent will be flapping all night. Phew. Hiked out via the dry lake trail which was amazing. I highly recommend that trail. You even get to see a plane crash. The price (there's always a price) is some additinal distance. I estimated about 22 miles for the total backpack trip. Tough, but worth it!

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