San Bernardino Peak Hike view

San Bernardino Peak Hike

In This Guide
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions & Video
  • Do You Need a Permit?
  • San Bernardino Peak Trail Maps
  • How to Get to the Trailhead
Distance16 miles (25.8 km)
Hike Time8 Hours (Total)
DifficultyHard
Total Ascent (?)4,670 feet (1423m)
Highest Elevation10,649 feet (3246m)
Fees & PermitsParking Fee & Voluntary Permit
Dog FriendlyOff Leash Okay
Park ContactMill 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

You no longer need a quota permit to do the hike. Permits are now voluntary.

  • Permits are voluntary 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. 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.

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

Osprey Talon

Osprey Talon 33

My best lightweight pack for hikes between 3-10+ hours. I use mine with the 3L water bladder from Osprey.

Women’s Reviews

Men’s Reviews

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

Garmin InReach Mini

You can text, SOS, and get weather in the backcountry where your cell phone doesn’t work. Literally a life-saver.

Lowest Prices

My In-Depth Review

La Sportiva Spire

La Sportiva Spire GTX

Modern materials mean you get the protection of a traditional hiking boot (waterproof, etc.) with feel of a sneaker.

Women’s Reviews

Men’s Reviews

Black Diamond Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles

If you’re not using poles yet, you should be. This model takes a beating, is light, and is super comfortable.

See The Reviews

Socks Sock Liners

2-Layer Sock System

I use a light inner toe sock and then a top-quality outer sock to prevent blisters.

Injinji Sock Liners

Darn Tough Socks

Probar

Nutritionally Dense Superfoods

Probars are great: no preservatives, vegan, low-GI, compact, and tasty. Put good fuel in your body.

See the Probar Flavors

If you’re hiking in the backcountry it makes sense to have a decent emergency kit and some basic gear to spend the night in a pinch.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

San Bernardino Peak Trail Maps

Click To View Map

San Bernardino Peak 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.

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

Don’t do this hike in the winter unless you have snow and ice hiking experience.

Video 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.

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