Big Horn Mine Trail Hike

Big Horn Mine Trail Hike

In This Guide
  • Where is Big Horn Mine?
  • What to Expect on the Hike
  • Turn-by-turn Hike Directions
  • Big Horn Mine Trail Maps & Video
Distance4 miles (6.4 km)
Time1.5-2 Hours (Total Time)
DifficultyEasy
Total Climbing1,200 feet (366m)
Highest Elevation6,932 feet (2113m)
Dog FriendlyLeashed
Park NameAngeles National Forest
Park Phone626-574-1613

The hike to Big Horn Mine is a fun and relatively easy way to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Angeles National Forest without a major effort. The trail to Big Horn Mine winds it’s way along the side of a mountain, eventually arriving at the abandoned mine, where you can explore a historic structure from 1895 and grab some iconic photos (with Mt Baldy in the background).

Big Horn Mine and the surrounding sights have an interesting history too, but more about that later.

Where is Big Horn Mine?

Big Horn Mine is in the heart of Angeles National Forest, with the parking area at Vincent Gap. Use this trailhead address:

Vincent Gap, CA 93563

And just a note. The Google Maps link works, but some other mapping programs don’t get Vincent Gap correct.

Big Horn Mine Hike 1
Don’t forget to leave your pass on your dashboard when you park.

You need a parking pass for the trailhead lot. I use the affordable National Parks Pass, which gets me in every park, monument, and national forest. You can also use an (Southern California only) Adventure Pass, or buy a $5 day permit from the ranger’s office.

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The parking lot is large but on a nice day it can fill up.
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There are primitive toilets at the Vincent Gap parking area.

In the winter the road can be closed, so if in doubt, check the park website and/or call the ranger station before leaving.

Gear for the Hike

This is a relatively short hike, and in normal circumstances you shouldn’t need any special gear. I recommend:

If you do this in the winter there is one section (more below) that requires extra care. Micro-spikes and trekking poles will help you navigate that icy section.

My Top Gear Picks

Garmin inreach review

Do you have the right hiking gear? Will it stand up to the test? I waste lots of money testing hiking gear every year so that you don’t have to. My gear picks are solid choices that will serve you well on the trail. I don’t do sponsored or paid reviews, I just the share actual gear that I use all the time that’s made the cut. Here are my top picks:

  1. Garmin InReach Mini Emergency Beacon – Hiking out of cell phone range? Make sure you have one of these two-way satellite texting devices in case your hike doesn’t go as planned. You can read my full review here.
  2. Injinji Sock Liners With Darn Tough Hiking Socks – This combo is a great way to avoid blisters out on the trail. I have some insider-hiking tips for avoiding blisters here. Pair them with modern, high-tech hiking boots (for women and men) and your feet with thank you.
  3. Garmin Fenix 5x Plus – It’s a little pricey, but man do I love this thing. Not only does it have all the topo maps and navigation tools on my wrist, but it also acts as a long battery life, rugged, outdoors version of an Apple Watch. Track your workouts, sleep, heart rate, all that stuff.

I have lots of other great, sponsor-free, trail tested gear picks on my “best gear” page.

See My Full Gear List

Big Horn Mine Trail Maps

This hike is straightforward. You basically hike straight on the trail until you reach the mine, then return. It’s a great way to hike in the mountains without doing a big effort.

Note: If you’re exploring OSM maps of the area on your own,  be warned that some (other) trails on the OSM map are little more than animal runs. The trail in this guide is easy to follow and plenty wide.

Fenix 5x Hiking Review

I highly recommend bringing a good paper map with you, and then using it in conjunction with a GPS device. You can see the navigation gear that I use here (I’m currently using the Fenix 5x Plus and love it). Just download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS.

Many people also print out this web page for the turn-by-turn images. And if you really want to get tricky, YouTube Premium lets you download videos for offline use, so you can download the hike video and save it.

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

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The trail hugs the side of Mt Baden Powell.
Hike Big Horn Mine Trail Elevartion
There’s some up and down on this hike but in general it’s not really noticeable. The grades are gentle.
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The trail roughly follows the contour line around the mine, with scenic views into Vincent Gulch and Mt Baldy in the distance.

What You Need To Know About the Hike

Big Horn Mine
The mine has been around for over 100 years and has a colorful history. Photo Bobbi Holmes.

Big Horn Mine Hike Directions

Hike Video

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You can watch this video in 360 degrees.
I have a version of this video where you can pan around in 360 degrees and see every angle of every trail junction, the trail conditions, and more. This is how you can use and view them.

View This Video in 360

Turn by Turn Directions

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There are a few trailheads at Vincent Gap. Head to the left of the signs toward the white gate.
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Go through the white gate to start hiking on the trail to Big Horn Mine.
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The trail is wide and descends for a bit.
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At this intersection keep right to head to Big Horn Mine. The turn to the left takes you to Vincent’s Cabin (more later).
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There are some sections of the trail that get narrow and overgrown, but it’s always easy to follow.
Big Horn Mine Hike 9
The trail widens out to a dirt road through mature pine trees.
Big Horn Mine Wash
The one section that can be a little tricky is this part of the trail which suffers from rockslides occasionally. If it’s cold out, there can be black ice on this section. Go slow and carefully here.
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The trail widens out after the last section and climbs again.You can see how this was once a dirt road that allowed miners to get back and forth to Big Horn Mine.
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There’s another mine shaft before you get to Big Horn Mine. Keep hiking straight on the path.
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Here’s a closeup of that last mine shaft.
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Stay to the right as the trail snakes around the curve on the mountain.
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Soon you’ll see Big Horn Mine in the distance.
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The last little stretch to the mine has a little up-and-down across a small stream.
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You made it! Now wait in line behind the crowds for your picture. If you leave early the crowds are much better (this is at 10am). And another reminder, if you explore around the mine, please do so carefully.
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To return, just hike back on the same trail. It’s as easy as that.

Side Trip to Vincent’s Cabin

Vincents Cabin
As long as you’re here, why not visit Charles Tom Vincent’s cabin? Photo lovz2hike

If you make the left turn at the first intersection (see the earlier directions) it’s only a half-mile hike to Vincent’s Cabin. You can go inside the cabin and poke around, seeing how Charles Tom Vincent lived life as a mountain man.

Charles Tom Vincent was originally from Ohio and served in the Civil War, eventually taking up mining in Arizona where he and his partner killed three men who were ransacking their shack. He fled to the mountains, making his way here after spending some time in the High Sierras.

Tom Vincent
A rare shot of Charles Tom Vincent with the cabin in the background. Photo Graham Ranch

Vincent lived on solitude by choice for forty years, continuing to mine for gold, and selling it once a year in Los Angeles. He was an interesting character. According to an account by his mailman “every afternoon when he came in from work he stripped to the buff and threw a potfull of hot water over his strong, rugged body, regardless of company; so we learned to vamoose. He was strong as an ox, the picture of health, thin and wiry with pink cheeks and snowy white hair. He could and did, walk for miles tracking a deer and he never fired an unnecessary shot. He loathed the city fellers that banged away regardless, when after game.” The Wrightwood Historical Society has a great write-up on Vincent and his life. Vincent passed in 1926.

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