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San Gorgonio Hike

At 11,503 feet, the San Gorgonio hike brings you to the highest peak in Southern California. The hike to San Gorgonio is an iconic SoCal hiker rite of passage, I highly recommend it. There are a few ways to hike to the peak. This hiking guide takes the Vivian Creek trail, which is the quickest way to the summit at 10 hours roundtrip. It's a tough hike but doable in a day if you train for it.

Rating:
5 / 5
Distance:
18.5 miles (29.8 km)
Time:
10 hours
Difficulty:
Very Hard
Climbing:
5390 ft (1643 m)
Trail Condition:
Marked Forest Service Trails
Challenges:
Long distance, climbing, altititude
People:
Moderate
Known For:
Great Views, Climbing
Best Time:
Early Morning
Dogs:
Yes
Bathrooms:
At Trailhead
Parking:
Parks Pass Needed

San Gorgonio Hike Trail Maps

Use this address in Google Maps to get to the trailhead:
Big Falls Picnic, Forest Falls, CA, 92339, USA

san gorgonio hike location map

The San Gorgonio hike is about 90 minutes east of downtown LA.

san gorgonio hike 3d map

The hike starts in the valley by Mill Creek, does a tough quick climb to Vivian Creek for the middle section, and then goes straight up in the end. There are some gradual sections in the middle, but expect to be going up for most of the hike.

san gorgonio hike elevation

The San Gorgonio hike basically just goes up. You have to pace yourself because it's a long hike. The last stretch is steep, at altitude, and tough.

Interactive Map

San Gorgonio Hike Map Downloads

hiking map on garmin fenix 3

If you have GPS device (I use this one by Garmin and I love it) for your hike, load the GPX file below into your device to navigate the hike. For help on loading the GPX file, read this article on converting and transferring to a Garmin GPS.

Also, don’t rely on electronics as your sole means of navigation. There’s a basic printable PDF map below, and I strongly picking up a good topo map too.

View a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

San Gorgonio Hike Video

San Gorgonio Hike Directions

hike san gogonio views

What to Expect

Turn by Turn Directions

san gorgonio hike parking
There’s a lot of parking at the trailhead. During weekends it fills up quickly.
san gorgonio hike bathrooms
Bathrooms are in this building in the middle of the parking lot.
san gorgonio hike permit
Don’t forget to get your permit before you go. Keep it with you as you hike. If you see a ranger, they might ask to see it.
san gorgonio hike board
Look for the hiking board that marks the beginning of the hike.
san gorgonio hike start
The very beginning might be the trickiest part of the hike. You will be following the dirt road up along the Mill Creek riverbed. Keep going straight.
san gorgonio hike trail signs
Avoid the cabins and keep heading straight. There are trail signs to point you in the right direction.
san gorgonio hike road
The road gets really primitive and rocky. Sections of the road were washed out by flooding. Keep going straight.
san gorgonio hike at mill creek
A little before 0.5 miles, you’ll see a big trail sign. Follow the arrow to the left and cross Mill Creek.
mill creek crossing
Crossing Mill Creek can be tricky. The trail splits apart and comes back together. Look for the brown trail signs on the other side.
san gorgonio hike signs
Signs mark the start of the Vivian Creek trail proper on the other side of Mill Creek.
san gorgonio hike goes up
Now you go up. And up. Oh, and up. This part is steep but it’s a great way to wake up your body.
san gorgonio hike views
It’s a tough mile or so up, but the views are great. Take your time.
San Gorgonio Wilderness sign
Towards the top of the climb you enter the San Gorgonio Wilderness.
san gorgonio hike levels off
A little after 1.6 miles the trail levels off.
san gorgonio hike trail
There’s a tricky part by a fallen tree. Hike to the right. The left has an area with a ‘no camping’ sign.
san gorgonio hike by vivian creek
Enjoy this mellow part of the hike along Vivian Creek. The grade is gradual and the scenery is lush.
cris hazzard eats on san gorgonio hike
This section is a good opportunity to eat and fuel up.
san gorgonio hike turn-off
At about 3.3 miles there’s a turn-off. Stay left towards High Creek.
san gorgonio hike junction sign
Here’s a detail of the previous junction sign. Again, head toward High Creek.
san gorgonio hike climbs
Now you start climbing again. The switchbacks are tough but not as bad as the first part of the hike.
view of mt baldy
Take breaks to turn around and check out the views. That’s Mt Baldy in the distance.
signs for High Creek camp
At around 5.8 miles you’ll start seeing signs for High Creek camp.
High Creek Camp
Continue through High Creek Camp on the trail. High Creek Camp is a good option if you want to backpack over two days. You can also refill your water bottles in the creek here.
san gorgonio hike switchbacks
There’s a stream at High Creek, cross it and continue up some long, gradual, rocky switchbacks that seem to go on forever.
ridge on san gorgonio hike
At about 7.3 miles you reach a ridge. To the right is a little view area. The trail goes left.
san gorgonio hike viewpoint
The viewpoint is close and worth a stop. It has sweeping views to the south.
san gorgonio hike climb
Head back on the trail and start climbing again. You can see the terrain starts to change here.
views of Mount San Jacinto
As you climb, you’ll have great views of Mount San Jacinto to your right.
view of San Gorgonio Mountain peak
At about 7.5 miles, you’ll start to get views of your final destination, the San Gorgonio Mountain peak.
sparse trees on san gorgonio hike
The trees are sparse as you climb. If the weather is bad, you’ll really know it by this point of the hike.
steep section on san gorgonio hike
The trail gets steep in this section.
san gorgonio hike crosses the tree line
Shortly after that steep section, you climb above the tree line and enter the barren, moon-like terrain on the way to the peak. It can be pretty windy here, even if the weather is nice.
cairns on san gorgonio hike
The trail splits apart and comes together in some sections. Look for cairns if you get lost.
Bernardino Peak Divide Trail sign
At about 8.8 miles, hike to the right as the San Bernardino Peak Divide Trail joins from the left.
san gorgonio hike trail junction
Shortly after that, there’s another junction. Stay left toward San Gorogonio peak.
san gorgonio hike trail
Almost there! They call San Gorgonio “old greyback” because it’s a grey hump.
cris hazzard with san gorgonio sign
BOOM! You made it! There’s a mandatory pose with the sign when you summit.
rock shelter on san gorgonio hike
There are some rock walls up here in case you want to camp in a shelter. It’s also a good place to hunker down if the wind is crazy.
san gorgonio hike panorama
The panorama from San Gorgonio is awesome. You’re so high up that you can really see the curvature of the earth.
hiker golfs on san gorgonio hike
San Gorgonio is a popular hike, expect some company if you’re at the summit during the day. On this day, a kid was cracking golf balls off the summit.
cris hazzard on san gorgonio hike
To return, hike back down the way you came. It’s a long day, so pace yourself and watch your footing. I tend to roll my ankles more when I’m tired. Happy hiking!

So you bagged San Gorogonio? Then you need to set your sights on Mt Whitney next!

A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.

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