San Bernardino Peak Hike

San Bernardino Peak Hike

In This Guide
  • San Bernardino Peak Permit Situation
  • How to Get to San Bernardino Peak
  • San Bernardino Peak Trail Maps
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions
  • What You Need To Do the Hike
Distance16 miles (25.8 km)
Time8 Hours (Total Time)
DifficultyHard
Total Climbing4,650 feet (1417m)
Highest Elevation10,649 feet (3246m)
Dog FriendlyOff Leash Okay
Park NameMill Creek Visitor Center
Park Phone909-382-2882

The San Bernardino Peak (10,649 feet) hike is tough but rewarding. The San Bernardino Mountains were named after San Bernardino Peak, which was named by one of the pioneer friars in California, Francisco Dumetz in 1835. I like this hike a lot. The crowds are light, the fauna is beautiful, and it offers sweeping views of Mt Baldy, Mt San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, Big Bear Lake, and the Inland Empire.

Planning for the San Bernardino Peak Hike

Limber Pine Camp
Most people do the San Bernardino Peak hike in a day, but you can make it an overnight camping trip too. Here’s the sunset from Limber Pine Bench camp. Photo Mitch Barrie
  • UPDATE: YOU NO LONGER NEED A QUOTA PERMIT FOR A DAY HIKE! They are voluntary now and help the rangers understand traffic in the area (and hopefully get more funding to support these trails). I recommend filling out the permit online here, and then emailing it in to the rangers. Print a copy out for yourself and bring it with you.
  • You have the option of splitting this day hike into an overnight backpacking trip to the Limber Pine Bench Camp. Limber Pine Bench Camp is one of my favorite campgrounds of all time. It has flat areas to camp and incredible sunset views. You do need a permit for an overnight hike. Here’s how to get it.
    • Call the Mill Creek Visitor Center at 909-382-2882 and see if there is a space open for the day you want.
    • If there are spaces available on your date, go to the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association website and follow instructions on getting a permit.
    • You can send the permit by mail, or for a quicker turnaround, fax the PDF form in. After faxing, I got my permit back within the hour.
    • You can also walk into the Mill Creek Visitor Center and get a walk-up permit. If there are spaces left, you just fill out the form and start hiking. If not, you don’t.
    • There might be a ranger at the campground checking permits. Just show them your piece of paper and he’ll mark it. It’s as easy at that.
  • The San Bernardino Peak hike is a tough hike, but not technical. You need a good level of fitness to attempt it.  I recommend hiking Cucamonga Peak and Ontario Peak to build up to San Bernardino Peak.
  • You might feel the effects of altitude on this hike, including headache, fatigue, and nausea. If you do, stop, and rest. Make sure you’re well hydrated. If, after resting, you still feel the symptoms, be prudent and turn around. Some people pop a Diamox. Read the section on altitude sickness on my Mt Whitney guide for more info.

Where Is The San Bernardino Peak Hike?

Use this trailhead GPS address: 5766 Frontage Rd, Angelus Oaks, CA 92305, which will get you to the fire station. Detailed directions to the trailhead parking are below.

IW07 sign
The trailhead GPS address that I listed is for the fire station. Once there, you’ll see this sign for the forest road. Keep going up the road toward IW07.
San Bernardino Peak Hike trailhead sign
A few feet after that last sign, you’ll see this helpful sign directing you to the trailhead.
San Bernardino Peak Hike trailhead sign
A big sign directs you onto the dirt road to the trailhead. Note, the tape over the sign is still from when the trail was closed due to fires earlier in the year.
San Bernardino Peak Hike trailhead sign
Once on the dirt road, there’s a split and trail sign, stay right.
San Bernardino Peak Hike parking
Grab a spot in the parking lot. Get here early, the lot fills up. You might have to get creative and park down the road if it’s full. Also, note the cars in the lot. You don’t need a high-clearance vehicle if you go slow on the dirt road.

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead.

You need a parking pass. 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.

Gear for the Hike

This is a tough backcountry hike, and you need to be well prepared with layers, water, and food. Check the summit weather and call the ranger office to check conditions before you leave. Don’t do this hike in the winter unless you have snow and ice hiking experience.

Here’s what I bring:

Limber Pine Bench Camp also has a spring to fill up water bottles. The spring doesn’t always have water, so don’t count on it.

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

San Bernardino Peak Trail Maps

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

San Bernardino Peak Hike 3d map
The hike has incredible views for most the way up to San Bernardino Peak. You can see it climbs along the side of the mountain, with nothing blocking the view into the valley.
San Bernardino Peak Hike elevation
It’s a steep hike but there’s a nice plateau in the middle of the hike where you can catch your breath.

San Bernardino Peak Hike Directions

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Turn by Turn Directions

San Bernardino Peak Hike start
The trail starts right by the boards. Ignore the gate at the far end of the lot and start the hike here.
San Bernardino Peak Hike board
Check out the hiking board for any trail notices.
San Bernardino Peak Hike trail
The trail climbs for the first few miles. Pace yourself and take breaks. The trail makes it’s way up toward San Bernardino peak on a series of well-designed switchbacks built by the CCC in the 1930s.
San Bernardino Peak Hike views
One of the great things about the San Bernardino Peak hike is the views, and they start right from the beginning. Take breaks to catch your breath and soak it all in. You’ll get great views of Mt. Baldy, Angeles National Forest, and the Santa Ana Mountains as you climb this section.
San Gorgonio Wilderness sign
After the majority of the switchbacks, you’ll reach this cool San Gorgonio Wilderness sign.
Manzanita Flats
At about 3 miles, the trail starts to level out and you hike across Manzanita Flats.
Manzanita Flats views
There are great views from Manzanita Flats. To your left are the mountains around Big Bear, to the right, San Bernardino Peak.
San Bernardino Peak Hike trail junction
At about 4 miles, you’ll reach a trail junction. Hike straight through toward Limber Pine.
San Bernardino Peak Hike trail junction
Closeup of the trail junction sign. Remember, continue hiking towards Limber Pine.
San Bernardino Peak Hike trail
After Manzanita Flats, the trail starts going up again.
LImber Pine campground
At about 5.7 miles, you reach LImber Pine campground. This back-country campground is a great option if you want to do the San Bernardino Peak hike as an overnight backpacking trip. The views from this campground are spectacular. Head to the left through the campground.
Limber Pine campground
Follow the stone path to the left through the Limber Pine campground.
San Bernardino Peak Hike sign
There’s a sign along the trail in the campground pointing you toward San Bernardino Peak.
San Bernardino Peak Hike climbs
More uphill! The views are incredible as you climb.
San Bernardino Peak Hike overlook
At about 7.2 miles, the trail goes left, but hike to the overlook on the right.
cris hazzard at overlook
A cool stone bench sits at the overlook. Great photo opportunities here.
San Bernardino Peak Hike view
San Jacinto Peak looms on the horizon. In the valley below, you’ll see Mill Creek and the VIvian Creek trailhead for the hike to San Gorgonio.
San Bernardino Peak Hike trail
After soaking in the views, continue hiking on the trail to San Bernardino Peak. Almost there! As you climb, you’ll get views of Big Bear Lake to your left.
San Bernardino Peak Hike trail junction
At about 8 miles, the trail splits. Head right up the steep trail for the last few hundred feet to the peak. A small cairn marks the trail junction. It’s easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled.
cris hazzard at San Bernardino Peak
Success! You did it. The pile of rocks marks San Bernardino Peak.
trail registry
Sign the trail registry, located in the rocks.
views from San Bernardino Peak
Soak in the views of San Jacinto Peak, San Gorgonio Mountain, and Mt Baldy from San Bernardino Peak.
San Bernardino Peak Hike trail junction
Head back down the way you came to finish the hike. About 10 -15 minutes down the trail, you’ll see a left hand turnoff to Washington’s Monument. A metal sign marks the spot. Hike to the left for the side trip to the monument.
Washington’s Monument sign
This plaque gives some background on Washington’s Monument at the trail junction.
Washington’s Monument
This pile of rocks is Washington’s Monument! The rock pile is actually a sighting point for surveyors, setup by Colonel Henry Washington in 1852. From here, just head back down the way you came to finish the hike.

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