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Vivian Creek Trail to San Gorgonio Peak

HARD 1381 reviews
#1 of 29 trails in

Vivian Creek Trail to San Gorgonio Peak is a 17.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Forest Falls, California that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, camping, and backpacking and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 17.2 miles Elevation Gain: 5,492 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

running

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

snow

Wilderness permits are required for all overnight hikes. 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.

icy
snow
5 days ago

practically impossible right now with all the snow.

Unfortunately we were not able to finish today. We had to turn back about a half a mile from the summit due to high winds. We had to wear our micro spikes almost the whole trail. There was a lot of snow and ice covering the majority of the trail.

hiking
snow
11 days ago

Great hike! More snow than we expected, but that made it fun! Started at 4:30 and got to the top around 10am and hung out there for an hour. Got to the car around 3:30 and enjoyed the entire trip!

hiking
rocky
17 days ago

Pretty cool going up that high, first mile is steep and the last mile and a half is really tough, my friends shoes came apart completely so it took way longer to get down. According to my phone it was 25 miles lol so idk about it being 17. Little snow patch at the top and saw a buck on the way down.

hiking
17 days ago

Watch out for those first two miles and last mile, they will definitely challenge most people. Other than that it was a beautiful hike, coming down was a bit rough on the knees cause of the steep grade in the beginning.

Hard but beautiful

rocky
22 days ago

I honestly cried when I reached the top. very challenging hike but absolutely breath taking from the bottom up. I will definitely be going back one day. really enjoyed everything this hike had to offer

23 days ago

Great trail. Summited on Sep 21. Started at 5:00 and got to the top at 1:00. Took it easy on the way down and finished at 8:00. Not a very technical hike, just long.

hiking
23 days ago

The reviews are very accurate. There is plenty of water at Vivian camp and High Camp. None at Halfway camp. Great Hike! Perfect weather.

hiking
24 days ago

Hiked this trail today with a friend, great training hike. First couple of miles were pretty hard for the start, a bit easier after that. I could really feel the elevation at 9000 feet to 11,400 feet st the summit, went much slower. My Garmin tracked 19 miles, 5100 elevation gain, Beautiful day

Awesome fall hike. I have been hiking this trail all year and the colors and climate are at the best. You do need to prepare for water, some of the streams are dry. Lots of shade and cool in the mornings. This is definitely one of the best hikes in SoCal!

hiking
26 days ago

Fantastic views and perfect weather. It said it would be close to 30s at the peak but we got lucky and it was closer to 50s with sunshine and a light breze

hiking
1 month ago

Note: Actual distance is closer to 20 miles, so plan accordingly. Our Strava clocked in at 19.88 miles with only a couple small “detours” for photos, etc. Started at 7am, got back to the parking lot at 4:15. 4:30 hours to the summit, 45 minutes eating lunch/hanging out at the summit, then 3:15 hours to descend (with 15-minute photo stop). I’m training with friends for Cactus to Clouds, so we’ve done San Bernardino and Baldy in the past couple weeks, so these times should be considered realistic for trained hikers (we were much slower on our first hikes). Steep 0.6 mile section right after you cross the dry riverbed, but flattens our nicely after that. Plenty of water along the way, so lighten your pack with less water, if you have a filter. I only drank 2 liters, which is much less than recent hikes, most likely due to the cooler overall temps. Last couple miles are pretty slow, due to the incline and elevation. Summit has great views of Palm Springs, Mt San Jacinto, San Bernardino, Big Bear, etc. Definitely a bit breezy and noticeably colder (10-15 degrees) at the summit, so plan to layer (I was happy to have my windbreaker and gloves). Very doable, but it’ll wear you out, especially with the elevation. Start early and bring a headlamp just in case. Enjoy!

Great trail! Beautiful hike! And the view from the top is extraordinary. For those who care the sign is there! You just might need to look for it. The hardest parts of this hike for me was the ascent from 10,000 feet to 11,000 and the last mile down to the creek. I'm not fond of steep narrow descents and the descent down to the riverbed is rough. One 20 to 30 foot section was particularly anxiety producing mostly because I had already hiked 16 or 17 miles and my legs were tired. But other than section the trail is in great condition and offers so many different things to see. The old growth trees above Vivian Creek Campground are very pretty. Great at this time of year! Also lots of water! All three campgrounds have water with lots flowing at High Creek Camp.

hiking
bugs
rocky
1 month ago

My recording logged close to 19 miles not 17 I brought 4L water and was surprised to find that I ran out of water with 5 miles downhill left. That was unfortunate.

This trail was amazingly long but so worth it!! I’d have to say the first 2 miles were tough and the last 4 miles to the summit took forever! Clocked a 7 hours to reach the top and 4.5 to come down. The colors were beautiful this time of year. So glad we waited for later in the year.

Vivian Creek to San Gorgonio was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Maybe next time I won’t carry such a heavy pack, lol. Oh yeah, the San Gorgonio summit plaque was not there. So, no picture with it. That sucked after my grueling effort.

hiking
bugs
rocky
1 month ago

As most people said, the initial part, after crossing the empty river bed and getting into the actual trail is the "hard" part, it's about a mile long of high elevation hike. After that, I feel like the rest of the hike is long but quite easy, even though you get over 11.500 ft, it is a very gentle, barely felt incline, but definitely long walk. It is worth doing it as the views are beautiful and walking in the valley in the morning is quite awesome! Baldy can be much more challenging if you take the steep route, while this hike has only the first part with a steep incline and it only lasts for about a mile. The total hike took me 3hrs40mins up and 3hrs down, registering about 9.5 miles each way from the parking lot to the peak.

hiking
1 month ago

great hike with the best views

hiking
bugs
rocky
1 month ago

Really there’s no reason to say much. It’s the highest peak in southern CA. Do it for the clout. First 2 miles are hard, last 2 miles are hard. Everything in between isn’t too bad. Coming back down you will have some knee of ankle pain due to a gang of uneven rocks

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

The trail round trip is actually 20.6 miles round trip. Not sub 18. So plan your day accordingly. I used my Garmin watch to track our hike and it was 10.3 miles one way from the parking lot near the ranger station. So 20.6 miles round trip. Bring headlamps, hiking poles, wear broken in boots, and LOTS of water. The trail is mostly on rocks. It’s a great hike and accomplishment to do in a single day, but plan to be on the trailhead long before the sun comes up and depending on your pace up and back, plan to be on the trail if it gets dark while hiking. Account for altitude adjustments and breaks too.

hiking
1 month ago

Completed my 6 peak challenge with this epic hike. Definitely the toughest out of all the peaks.Weather was fantastic!!! Sunny skies and no wind. Temp hung around in the 60's for most of the day. Left at 6:30 am back to the car at 5:30. My AllTrails recorder had it at 19.5 miles. Saw about 35 people on the trail all day. That first part after the creek is super steep but it doesn't last long. There is a really mellow forest stroll for a couple miles right after that. It's that last 2 miles that got me though. I was really feeling the elevation and my feet felt like they were in cement. When your coming down..I'm sure you'll be tired...be careful on that really steep section near the beginning. The ground is loose so watch out you don't slip or roll an ankle. This was a really fantastic hike. I think San Bernardino is still my favorite but this is a close second.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

This is a LONG trail. Hiked this trail mid-week and only came across 4 other hikers. Even in early October there was a good amount of water available from streams. Other reviews have stated that the first (and by default the last) 2 miles are no joke, this is very true. The first 2 miles are rough due to the uneven terrain and loose rocks, I didn’t find the altitude gain all that bad as it was at the very beginning. If you start off real early in the morning, there are lots of deer to be seen along the trail. The middle portion of the trail does not offer grand views, but the forest scenery is breathtaking. The top 2 miles or so offers little protection from the sun and the wind (30+ mph winds on this day), so be prepared. Overall, glad I did it!

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