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)
Difficulty (?)Easy
Total Ascent (?)840 feet (256m)
Highest Elevation6,932 feet (2113m)
Fees & PermitsParking Pass
Dog FriendlyLeashed
Park WebsiteAngeles National Forest
Park Phone626-574-1613
Stay In Touch - - -

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.

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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.

La Sportiva Spire

The La Sportiva Spire boots feel like comfortable sneakers but offer the protection of hiking boots. They’re great on everything from short hikes to longer hikes of 10+ miles. You don’t want to skimp on your feet.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: WomenMen

Opsrey Stratos 24

I test a lot of gear, and for short to medium day hikes, travel, and everyday use, the Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women) are consistently the best. They’re lightweight, hold a hydration bladder to make drinking water easy, have lots of pockets to organize gear, and most importantly, are incredibly comfortable. Check out the reviews; they are impressive.
Reviews & Colors Here: Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women) 

Garmin Instinct

If you’re hiking, I’m guessing you’re a fitness conscious person. That’s where a GPS tracking watch like the Garmin Instinct comes in. You can load the GPX file from this hike onto the watch and make sure that you’re on the trail at all times. You can also track your pace and calories for the hike, runs, bike rides, workouts, and almost everything. If you’re not ready to spend the money on a watch like the Fenix 6, the Garmin Instinct is a great way to get a lot of the same features without the cost. Latest Low Prices Here

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here

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 a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.

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

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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

These guides will always be free but I need your help – here’s how to easily say thanks at no cost to you.

Hike Video

FYI I have a version of this video in 360/VR format. Not familiar with the benefits of 360 video? Then watch this.

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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.
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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.

Update from Theodore V: Someone has placed a tree trunk in front of the trail to the cabin. So when you’re about 0.5 miles down the trail, look for a tree trunk blocking a trail off to the right. Climb over the trunk and keep going to reach the cabin.

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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