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)
Difficulty (?)Hard
Total Ascent (?)4,670 feet (1423m)
Highest Elevation10,649 feet (3246m)
Fees & PermitsParking Fee & Voluntary Permit
Dog FriendlyLeashed
Park WebsiteMill Creek Visitor Center
Park Phone909-382-2882
Stay In Touch - - -

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.

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.

La Sportiva Spire

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: WomenMen

Osprey Talon

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.

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

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.

Fenix 6 Pro

I’m a big fan of GPS watches (which I also use as a sleep, wellness, and fitness tracker) and my current watch is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar. I load my GPX tracks onto the watch to make sure I’m in the right place, and if not, the onboard topo maps allow me to navigate on the fly. It’s pricey but it has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of functionality. If you want something similar without the maps and big price tag, check out the Garmin Instinct which is a great buy and does a lot of the same things.

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.

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

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

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

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

Video Directions

New Guide Notifications
 
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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.

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