Vivian Creek Trail to San Gorgonio Peak

HARD 434 reviews
#1 of 16 trails in

Vivian Creek Trail to San Gorgonio Peak is a 17.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Forest Falls, California that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
17.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5452 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

snow

San Gorgonio is the tallest mountain in Southern California, and a right of passage for serious hikers in the area. At 11,503', "Old Grayback" provides an excellent high altitude training for those preparing to summit Mt. Whitney, and only 90 minutes away from Orange County. There are several trails leading up to San Gorgonio, but none as steep as the Vivian Creek trail, which in less than eight miles to the summit climbs over a vertical mile. One and two-tenths miles from the trailhead is Vivian Creek Camp (7,100'). Campsites are located upslope to the right of the trail after reaching the stream: one is halfway up the slope, and the other is at the top of the slope (no camping within 200 feet of the trail or creek). One and three-tenths miles from Vivian Creek Camp is Halfway Camp (8,100'). Water is obtained from the creek 200 yards before camp. Two and three-tenths miles further is High Creek Camp (water available - 9,200'). The summit of San Gorgonio (11,499') is 3 miles beyond High Creek. The upper end of this trail offers outstanding views of Yucaipa Ridge and Galena Peak, as well as sweeping panoramic views from the top of Mt. San Gorgonio. After the South Fork Trail, this is the second most used trail in the Wilderness.

hiking
9 hours ago

I hiked this yesterday, 6/23, just over a year from the first time I completed this hike. Total distance from where I parked was 18.85 miles (be prepared for a longer hike than the claimed 17.1 miles). It was a great hike, challenging as well but worth the effort. I summit-ed in 4 hours, 23 minutes. Total hike time was 8 hours 16 minutes (including 35 minutes of resting time, I didn’t stop for long). There were quite a few other hikers on the trail; I overtook 62 of them on my way to the summit, not counting those camping along the route

The weather was clear and quite warm. My water intake was more than anticipated and I went through all 3L in my Camelbak, it went dry at about 5 miles distance from the end of my hike. For these long out and back hikes I may start to bring extra water to stash along the way in order to be better prepared for times such as this when I run dry.

4 days ago

Hiked yesterday (6/19) it was a beautiful sunny day and the trail was difficult but manageable. I only used my 3 lit bladder and still had water at the end. Have fun!
**fyi: bears got into my friends car (she car camped at the trailhead) so be aware and prepare with proper storage of your supplies.

7 days ago

Backpacked to the summit and camped overnight. Brutal hike but worth the views and challenge.

hiking
8 days ago

Hard, but beautiful hike,
we camped at half point and summit the next day!!

9 days ago

The big payoff for this hike is the elevation training. The views are nice as well, but not excellent compared to the other near by trails. We did it in one trip and was surprised how long the way back was, it honestly felt harder.

20 days ago

The first set of switchbacks and the last push were 2 miles the hardest. I camped for a night at half-way camp it was a good site because it was pretty secluded but no water sources.

This Is a great hike but get ready to get you butt kicked. I actually rolled my ankle less than a mile after summitting so be careful when on that downhill.

backpacking
24 days ago

We arrived at the Vivian creek trail head around 7:45 am and hiked up to halfway camp. There we set up our megamid and ditched our gear. After lunch we slackpacked the 5.5ish miles to the summit, which we reached near 4pm. At 11503 the mountain towered over all its neighbors, we got some beautiful views. We hiked back to halfway camp, we arrived at just about nightfall. Hiked out the next morning!

27 days ago

Nice hike. Great views.

backpacking
1 month ago

This trail was absolutely beautiful. The first mile and the last couple miles up are the hardest but trekking poles help a ton. The juice is worth the squeeze on this one as the sights from up top are breathtaking.

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing views. very long hike on a very rocky and sometimes slippery trail. first and last parts were brutal, the first part also on the way down due to the strain on the knees (even with hiking poles). Are the views worth the pain? happy I did it, won't do it again.

1 month ago

Beautiful trail, definitely recommend Summiting in the fall and winter when you get to use crampons, it’s and unforgettable experience and the view of the the snowed mountains is priceless.

backpacking
1 month ago

Great trail! Really well maintained. The first mile and last two are the toughest parts. Really beautiful and worth the hike! I did it in 2 days, but it could easily be done as a day hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Well worth the effort!
The hardest trail I've done so far. Great training for bigger challenges. My favorite trail and peak of the 6 packs. Will be back again! Took our 2 dogs and they are slumbering for days now, mission complete!

1 month ago

Pretty hard because of steepness but the views are GREAT

backpacking
1 month ago

Amazing hike. Completed on 5/28. No need for microspikes. 1st mile and last before summit are the toughest, but worth it! There is plenty of water...best to fill up at High creek before and after summit bid.

backpacking
1 month ago

4/28-29/18. No snow, some but not a heavy flow of water at high creek camp. Already crowded. Great hike though.

Hiked 4 28 18. The trail is in good shape. No need for spikes. This one is long. The section from 10k to 11k feet is brutal. Start early and take your time.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked 4/21/18... hardly any snow on trail.. lucked out with perfect condition! The view at the top is amazing. The key to this hike is to start early!

hiking
2 months ago

Great Hike (13-14 APR 2018). My GPS showed 21 total miles round trip... We stayed on the trail. I think that the switchbacks have been extended. Friday on ascent we only saw 3 other people. Saturday, on our decent we saw about 40 hikers on their way up. Used only trekking poles.

hiking
2 months ago

Started this hike at 5am. There were already a few cars parked at the trail head. The trail is distinctly marked with signs from the trail head as you cross the Mill Creek River Bed.

It took us about 6 hours to ascend to the peak. We definitely took our sweet time. The weather was just too perfect! Hardly any wind at all and a cool 65 degrees for most of the hike. Still a few patches of snow and ice, but microspikes it not necessary. I would recommend trekking poles hiking back down due to the speed descend.

Be aware that once you come down the peak, don’t take the peak divide trail by accident. That will take you to the San Bernardino Peak, make sure you take the trail to the left.

Overall, one of the most beautiful hikes out here in the Inland Empire.

Bonus: We saw a bobcat hiding in a small cave.

Follow me on YouTube: Humble Hiker for Hiking Videos

hiking
2 months ago

Started at 5AM and took about 9.5H from the Vivian Creek trailhead to summit and return. There is minimal snow above 8k and was perfectly fine with poles and microspikes / yaktrax. Crampons and axe are unnecessary right now. The initial switchbacks and elevation gain are brutal and even worse when coming down. Take as little weight as possible to save your knees.

hiking
2 months ago

Fantastic challenging trail. Completed 10/6/17. From trailhead to summit - 5 hrs. Weather was perfect in early October.

2 months ago

The trail is very difficult and conditions are terrible deep snow and ice are all over the trail but the view at the top is amazing the trip should take you about two days make sure to bring appropriate clothing and a tent

3 months ago

Proper preperation prevents poor performance.

March 20th was my third time on the mountain this winter and I had the pleasure of bringing the girlfriend recently.
Started at 3 am so we could be high enough for some good morning shots. Together we reached a point about 2.5 miles from the peak but the girlfriend was dead! She just got back the morning before from a week long trip to Bali so I don't blame her. Ran/Jogged the last 2 miles up. There's two little peaks at the top but I went to the one 20 feet lower in elevation so I could save the real peak for the girlfriend and I. All in all a good experience with the right gear..and weather lol

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked San Gorgonio in the snow the morning of feb 25th via the Vivian Creek trail, nobody else heading up so had to make fresh tracks in the snow and had the peak to myself for a little while, beautiful day but hard work. Met a few guys heading up from other trailheads and camps later on. There is Snow and Ice on most of the trail from the trailhead and up. After High Creek the trail is fully covered and not visible, so I just headed straight up instead of trying to find the switchbacks up to the ridge. I used microspikes, which was fine. Others might prefer crampons. Some post holing from High Creek. Once you get to the San Gorgonio mountain conditions are similar to last weekend with wind blown packed snow that you dont sink into. I could see snow covered mountains in Sierra Nevada and Death Valley on this very clear day. Open water at High Creek and Vivian Creek, I drank some from High Creek without filtering on my way down, tasted wonderful. I would say the snow makes the hike about 25% harder. Wonderful!

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked on Sunday 2/18. Pretty Consistent snow from high creek up. Brought micro-spikes, but did not use them. If you’re uncomfortable on snow they would probably be nice to have. Other than that; beautiful views to be had! Prepare for a long day, we started at 7.15 and finished around 6.

hiking
4 months ago

I summited San G on Friday, February 9th, 2018. I started my hike at VC Trailhead at 6:4t am solo. Made it to the summit and back in 10 hours exactly. A personal record. The top half of the trail was covered in snow. Enough snow to make it challenging, but not too much to make it dangerous. I felt confident hiking fast with micro spikes and hiking poles. I have been keeping a close eye on San G’s weather the past weeks and months. I would NEVER attempt this trail alone in february, had we not had a dry year like this year.

Plenty of footsteps all the way through the snow made by pervious hikers. No need for a gps device when I was up there. That could very well change after a storm.

Check the weather. Have the proper gear. Do your training. Let someone know about your destination and time and have a beautiful hike.

hiking
4 months ago

Decided to do this hike to start off 2018 the right way. Made it to the trailhead by 6 and it was still dark as could be. Took me 7 hours to summit due to elevation sickness and another 4 hours to come back down. Easily one of the most memorable hikes I've done and was able to have the summit to myself for 30 minutes. Wasn't the hardest hike i've done but definitely the longest. Beautiful scenery and just an amazing hike in general. If i had to do it again, i would definitely camp and acclimate to the elevation.

hiking
4 months ago

Was up here a couple days ago. Took the day off and started out early in the morning. Been hiking up here for awhile. Never disappointed with seeing wildlife. Very pretty up here. Not recommended for beginners though. You should have the right gear and experience to attempt this trail. Good luck

hiking
4 months ago

I did this one today. Had a start at 6:45 and was at the peak at noon. Super tough hike. Make sure you bring micro spikes.

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