ADVENTURE HIKES AND CANYONEERING© Christopher Earls Brennen
IN THE SOUTHWEST
Hike K18. San Bernadino Peak
- Hiking time: total hiking time of about 18 hours
- Estimated hiking distance: 22 miles
- Elevation gain: 3730 feet
- USGS Topo Map: San Gorgonio Mountain, Forest Falls, Big Bear Lake, Moonridge
- Difficulties: Overnight camp at Dollar Lake Forks Trail Camp.
- Special equipment: Overnight camping gear
This is a long and challenging overnight hike through a marvellous alpine wilderness to a series of peaks along a ridgetop with marvellous views in all directions. The hiker is forewarned that the last part of the described hike dropping down from the ridge is along a long navigationally challenging trail. There are alternatives here that the hiker might wish to consider but which require a car shuttle.
The South Fork Trailhead is at 6900 ft and is located on Jenks Lake Road, 2.5 miles from Highway 38 at 34.16169oN 116.87215oW. From the large paved parking area, the trail starts on the opposite side of the road across from the vault toilet.
The South Fork Trail (1E04.1) climbs gently towards Horse Meadows (34.15355oN 116.86489oW, elevatiom 7395 ft and 1.3 miles from the start). At 2.5 miles from the trailhead it crosses the San Gorgonio Wilderness boundary. Shortly thereafter at 34.14458oN 116.85452oW and an elevation of 7831 ft there is a short side trail to Poop-Out Hill, 7740 ft and a Wilderness information display. The main trail then continues to the Dry Lake Trail Junction at 34.13074oN 116.84359oW and an elevation of 8198 ft at 3.6 miles from the start. The left fork leads east to Dry Lake, 1.5 miles away. We take the right fork which leads across South Fork Meadows (8200 ft) toward Dollar Lake and the Dollar Lake Forks Trail Camp 5.6 miles from the start at 34.12529oN 116.85728oW and an elevation of 9488 ft. Dollar Lake itself is 0.3 miles away down a side trail. (Camping is prohibited within 0.25 miles of Dollar Lake.). When the author hiked this way he camped overnight at the Dollar Lake Forks Trail Camp using a lightweight tent and sleeping bag.
Resuming the hike it is just a short climb to the junction with San Bernadino Peak Divide Trail and the Falls Creek Trail at 34.11828oN 116.86051oW and an elevation of 9974 ft. some 6.21 miles from the start but with most of the climbing accomplished.
Turning west you proceed along the ridgetop, passing Anderson Flat at 34.12827oN 116.88895oW and an elevation of 10610 ft, some 8.79 miles from the start. About another half mile and you will ascend to San Bernadino Peak East at 34.12529oN 116.91007oW and an elevation of 10659 ft, some 10.24 miles from the start. This is the first of the San Bernadino Peaks; a second of almost equal height (and labelled San Bernadino Peak) is just a little further on at 34.12234oN 116.92243oW and an elevation of 10630 ft, some 11.19 miles from the start. The last of the stops along the ridge is the Washington Monument at 34.12028oN 116.93101oW and an elevation of 10289 ft, some 11.75 miles from the start. This is a large rock cairn and a metal plaque named for Colonel Herbert Washington who was in charge of the initial USGS survey in this area. This was the initial point on that survey on November 7, 1852.
On San Bernadino Peak
Beyond the Washington Monument you begin the descent from the ridge in a northerly direction. After a little more than a mile you pass through Limber Pine Spring at 34.12755oN 116.92896oW and an elevation of 9577 ft, some 12.96 miles from the start. The next waypoint on the descent is Manzanita Spring at 34.13939oN 116.93855oW at an elevation of 8297 ft, some 14.98 miles from the start. This where the possible descent paths diverge. An alternative at this point is to descend on the established trail to Angeles Oaks if that is where you have set up a car shuttle prior to your hike. Here we describe the closed loop trail to the intial parking area that can be navigationally challenging. At Manzanita Springs you first must locate the rough trail that proceeds north and then east to Johns Meadow at 34.14606oN 116.92650oW and an elevation of 7192 ft, some 16.03 miles from the start. Beyond Johns Meadow the trail proceeds east around a ridge and over Stetson Creek to the junction with the more established Forsee Creek Trail at 34.15583oN 116.89830oW at an elevation of 7080 ft and 18.50 miles from the start. Continue down the Forsee Creek Trail to the junction with the Jenks Lake Road at 34.16396oN 116.90607oW and an elevation of 6503 ft, some 19.54 miles from the start. A hike of another 2.5 miles east on the Jenks Lake Road will return you to the initial parking area at 34.16152oN 116.87199oW and an elevation 6883 ft, some 21.90 miles from the start.
Last updated 4/1/02.
Christopher E. Brennen