Hike Big Horn Mine Trail

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)
Hike Time1.5-2 Hours (Total)
DifficultyEasy
Total Ascent (?)840 feet (256m)
Highest Elevation6,932 feet (2113m)
Fees & PermitsParking Pass
Dog FriendlyLeashed
Park ContactAngeles 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. If you do this in the winter when there is snow and ice, there is one section (more below) that requires extra care. Micro-spikes and trekking poles will help you navigate that icy section.

Here’s the gear that I personally use, have tested, and recommend for this hike*.

La Sportiva Spire

La Sportiva Spire GTX

Good for light and more hardcore hikes. Feels like a sneaker but protects like a hiking boot.

Women’s Reviews

Men’s Reviews

Rei Flash 22

REI Flash 22 Pack

This is a super-light and comfortable backpack that can hold everything you need on a hike, including a hydration bladder. It also works great as a general backpack or carry-on.

See Colors & Prices

Joby On Triee

Joby Smartphone Tripod

Make your photos stand out by using this lightweight, do-anything tripod. The Joby attaches your smartphone to trees, rocks, whatever you can find on the trail. Folds down compactly too.

See the Joby Options

Don’t waster your money on hiking gear that’s no good, I’ve done that for you already! Full HikingGuy Gear List

* No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an REI link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.

Also → Big Sale at REI On Now:

REI SALE

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.

Click To View Map

Big Horn Mine Trail Hike Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

Here’s what I use to navigate my hikes. I recommend a combination of paper and electronic options with backups.

Gaiagps

Gaia GPS

Gaia GPS is a planning and navigation tool that you can use on your phone, tablet, and the web. I use it on my phone when I need to interact with the map and know where my position is on it. I use it at home on the computer to plan routes. You can overlay maps such as public lands to find out free places to camp. It’s a powerful tool.

HikingGuy Discount on Gaia GPS

Fenix Nav

Garmin Fenix Watch

This thing does everything: maps, GPX tracks, compass, barometer, altitude, heart rate, blood oxygen, fitness tracking, sleep tracking, and the list goes on. I keep a GPX route on the watch so I can quickly glance down and make sure I’m in the right place.

Fenix Prices & Reviews

My In-Depth Review

Topo Map

Topo Maps & Guide Books

Don’t be caught out if your batteries die. Take a topo map with you on the trail. Some people also print my guides out for use on the hike.

I also highly recommend taking a map and compass navigation course. It’s a few hours, it’s fun, and it could save your life.

Map and Compass Navigation Basics Classes

Don’t just rely on a cell phone, especially if you are hiking in the backcountry.

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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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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.
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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.
Big Horn Mine Hike 17
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.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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