San Bernardino Peak Hike
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance||16 miles (25.8 km)|
|Hike Time||8 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||4,670 feet (1423m)|
|Highest Elevation||10,649 feet (3246m)|
|Fees & Permits||Parking Fee & Day Use Permit|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Mill Creek Visitor Center|
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
After a stretch where no permits were needed, they have been reinstated.
- San Bernardino day hike permits are required and controlled by a quota. 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.
Update from Dan H: The last section of dirt road is now pretty rough. If your car can’t make it, there is parking on the side of the road before the rough section.
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. Be prepared for changing conditions.
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.
If you want to check if there’s snow on your hike, read this guide.
I try a lot of hiking boots and shoes, and there are some great options out there, but the La Sportiva Spire is the best combination of comfort, protection, low-weight, and durability. They are waterproof, and the high cuff keeps debris out without the need for a gaiter. Time tested over thousands of miles. Use them with a two-layer sock system to end blisters for good.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
On a medium or longer hike I recommend a pack like the Osprey Talon 33 (men) or Osprey Sirrus 36 (women) which is a little bit larger. These packs are on the upper end of the (35L) daypack range, but they only weigh a small fraction more than a pack with less capacity. Having the extra space gives you more flexibility and means you don’t have to jam things in there. I use the space for things like extra layers in the winter, extra water on desert hikes, and even a tent & sleeping bag on overnights.
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI (or Amazon).
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated September 2020.
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.
San Bernardino Peak Trail Maps
Download the Hike GPX FileView a Printable PDF Hike Map
Your best move to navigate this hike is to take a paper map, compass, and a GPS device. Load the GPX track from this hike onto your GPS to ensure that you’re on the trail. I’m a big fan of GPS watches; I just glance down at it to cross-check my position and use paper when I want a deeper dive. The GPS watch that I’m using now is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar (price: REI or Amazon). It’s pricey but has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of other wellness, fitness, and smart-watch applications. For a more affordable option, check out the value-packed Garmin Instinct (price: REI or Amazon), a similar watch without some of the features. There are also great smartphone GPS apps like GaiaGPS. If you end up getting GaiaGPS premium, I’ve arranged for a 20-40% discount for my readers.
San Bernardino Peak Hike Directions
It’s easy to say thank you! Support these free hiking guides by buying anything at Amazon or REI using the links below. There is no cost to you.
Buy Anything on Amazon Buy Anything on REI.com Donate with PayPal
Don’t do this hike in the winter unless you have snow and ice hiking experience.
Turn by Turn Directions
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.