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Vivian Creek Trail to San Gorgonio Peak

HARD 1300 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.

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
2 days 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
3 days 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
5 days 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!

hiking
bugs
off trail
scramble
6 days ago

This is like running a marathon. Some do it because they love pushing themselves. Some do it to say that they did. Some do it because they are a glutton for punishment. I guess you can say that I did it for all those reasons. Parking lot was packed by 6am on a Saturday morning. Hit the trail with a headlamp at 6:10. The first 1.5 miles is no joke. Real steep and then it levels off until you reach the switchbacks at mile 6. I experienced some altitude sickness from the top of the switchbacks until the summit. Reached the summit at 10:45, took some pics, fueled up, and headed back down. Made it to the car by 2:10 for 8 hours total time with an actual 6 hours and 40 min of travel time. A bit buggy towards the end, but no mosquitoes. I’m glad I did it, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be in a hurry to do it again anytime soon. Why? It’s not nearly as picturesque as San Bernardino, it’s incredibly long, and I love being on the trail without a lot of people. This was the most crowded trail I’ve been on since Baldy. Are you planning on conquering Mt. Whitney or another 14k peak in the Sierras, then use this as practice for the distance and altitude. TBH though, Whitney is also an overcrowded peak, that’s kind of underwhelming when it comes to beauty, and most people do it just to check it off a list (I’m guilty). For the perfect mixture of challenge and beauty, skip Whitney and this one and try Langley and Big Pine Lakes instead. Overall, long, challenging, checklist item, that is underwhelming in overall trail beauty compared to other peaks in SoCal.

Completed 10/6/2019 with Julia. Problems with the AllTrails recording which was incomplete and inaccurate in total distance, time and altitude gain. Harmon tracking confirmed 18.66m. 9h 25m and 7559 elevation gain. However the hike was exciting and challenging in places. The final 2 miles to the summit above the tree line and over loose rock is tedious but the views at the summit are worth the effort. I found the final 2-3 miles on the descent very tiring and the steep section into the valley was tough after a long hike. Nonetheless, an enjoyable experience and achievement. We both left notes in the visitors book at the summit.

hiking
rocky
8 days ago

I started at the Vivian Creek Trailhead at 7:45 am and made it to the peak after 4 hours and 45 minutes. Back down by 4:25 pm. The weather was perfect. This trail and trailhead are well maintained. This was my final peak of the SoCal 6-Pack Peak Challenge. Garmin stats: 19.5 miles; 5,289 feet of elevation gain; 7:31 moving time; 8:34 total time.

what a perfect day. 40 in the morning 60s and 70s all day. long and tough stash some water. would probably only do as an overnight. 13 hours on trail.

hiking
rocky
13 days ago

Very rocky but completely worth it. It’s freezing and windy at top. The top even has a bit of snow. Bring gloves. Hiking poles recommend. This is one of the more beautiful hikes I’ve been on. My map tracked more than 20 miles but we did go off a route a little. I hope you find parking in the main lot so you don’t make the hike longer. It says a hiking permit is required but we did not run into a ranger. For the permit contact Mill Creek Ranger Station at the Barton Flats into center. (According to the signs)

hiking
19 days ago

Such a great hike! To be honest, the first 2-2.5 miles were the hardest for me on the way up to San G.Once I got past that, it was long, but not too bad. I haven't done much hiking in the last few months so I was surprised with it's general ease, but I keep myself in great athletic shape. There are a couple trail junctions and areas where the trail isn't clear so GPS helps. Peak was awesome, but super windy and probably 30° with wind chill! Bring a windbreaker! There are still spots of snow on the north face. Pretty well shaded until the last mile or two, then it gets very exposed. Awesome workout and great views from the top!

hiking
20 days ago

A M A Z I N G !! total of 19 miles starting from the parking lot! my knees starting aching I would say at the last two miles. The bottom of my feet are sore but my heart is content and satisfied ❤

hiking
22 days ago

Tackled this beast yesterday with my hound dog. Left at 4:45am to beat the crowds. Parking lot near the trailhead was still almost completely full. The way up was absolutely amazing with very few people and only took about 4:30 to reach the summit. Clear as day yesterday and the views really show you how freaking high up you are. The way down must have seen 100 people going the opposite direction. And holy crap the way down will destroy your knees, especially the last mile or so where the elevation descent and rocks are completely unforgiving not to mention the sun beating down. Take your time and bring poles! Apple Watch clocked this thing at 19.5 miles, took me about 9 hours including breaks.

I made it to the peak with Kirby, Josh and Zac. I’m so tired and my feet are numb and sore. I’m ready to go do nothing for the next few days. Super proud that I was able to accomplish my goal of hiking to the peak of San Gorgonio

hiking
22 days ago

Hiked this today. Arrived at the trailhead around 5:30am, and I had no problem finding a parking spot. Started at 5:45am and back at the trailhead at 3:15pm. It is a long hike, but the steepest part is on mile 1. My knees were aching coming back down. Bring poles. Water: There is water at High Creek Camp. You can filter your water there so you don’t have to carry so much weight. Bugs: If you start early, you won’t notice them at Vivian Creek Trailhead. They were horrible on my way back. After the ridgeline, apply your sunscreen and put on your sun hat.

hiking
22 days ago

Definitely a beautiful hike! It wasn’t overly challenging until the last couple miles before summit. And the fact you can’t see the summit until you’re right on top of it kept us guessing. I feel what makes it most challenging is the length. We tracked it at over 19 miles so prepare for a little extra. It took us about 10 hours total, taking our time, and of course we spent an extra hour lunching and taking pics at the summit. Super fun crowd up there today! I was also pleasantly surprised there were no mosquitos as some had mentioned. A perfect day!

hiking
22 days ago

Started at 0645 Friday 9/20 , summited at 1745. Camped at summit . Mild wind , chilly . Saturday 9/21 left camp at 0715 and got back to the trail head at 1245 . Weather was beautiful, no bugs . Water all the way to high creek camp .

hiking
22 days ago

Did this hike today, took me 10 hrs total. The first and last sections are steep, the rest of the hike is quite pleasant with gentle elevation gain. Busy trail. Plenty of water along the route, suggest carrying a water filter and reduce weight.

hiking
rocky
22 days ago

Backpacking the summit is fun and challenging. Seeing the sunrise was the best.

hiking
24 days ago

If you're a legit hiker this is an easy stroll to the summit. It took us five hours to get up and four to get down. You don't need to start before the sun rises. The views to the east and south are the best from the summit. Pay attention to all of the different life zones you go through on the way up and down. About a mile in you enter the most impressive old growth forest in Socal no doubt!

hiking
bugs
rocky
26 days ago

Finished this trial today. Very well kept and easy to follow, didn’t need AllTrails much. Only 11 people went up from this trail (yes, I counted). I started at 5:30am and took me a little over 4 hours to get there (moderate pace at 27min mile going up). I passed two other parties so I was the only one up there for a while. Great views from the top but today was very windy and cold. I was only able to stay there for 20min since it was too cold due to the wind chill. Went down in a little over 3 hours. Jogged a bit going down. Views are incredible and lots of scenery. Loved the creek. Follow me @ MrTraveler.me in instagram.

hiking
28 days ago

Start time: 1am under the full moon made the trail light up. Cooler temps made the start and finish great timing. Bottom hike temp 50s and the summit 30s. Summit: a little for 6am for a magical sun rise and full loon setting. Night hiking is less intimidating but a little nerve racking, I think as this trail has high traffic a dawn patrol is the best way to go. 18.5 miles around trip - 10 hours top to bottom stories @bairdross

hiking
28 days ago

This is a very tough hike that only experienced hikers should try. I started at 9am and it took me 6 hours to summit (got lost a few times) and a total of 10 hours to complete. I recommend a net for the bugs at the beginning and end of hike. The critters don't seem bothered by bug repellant.

FTH

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