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San Gorgonio (Old Greyback) is the highest mountain in California (11,499') south of Olancha Peak in the Sierras. It has awesome views of the entire landscape including Big Bear, the Mojave, Joshua Tree, the Coachella Valley, LA Basin, and Baldy. The South Fork Trail replaces the old Poopout Ridge trail and road which were closed in the mid 80's because of overuse. It adds two miles each way to the route, but it is still worth it.
Relevant Guidebooks & Maps
San Bernardino Mountain Trails.
From Redlands (east of Pomona on the 10), take Highway 38 into the mountains. After about 25 miles (before Big Bear) there is a turnoff on the right hand side which says "South Fork Trail". This will be not long after an old road to Poopout Hill which is also on the right hand side of the road. Park at the South Fork lot.
This is the scenic route up San Gorgonio - 16 miles round-trip, 4500' gain. Follow the trail up through meadows and old cabins across the old Poopout Trail to a junction about 2.5 miles in. To the left is Dry Lake (a big meadow with many mosquitoes). Go right and continue up a relentless slope to a pass at 10,000 feet, 5 miles from the start. To the right is the San Bernardino Ridge, which has four peaks above ten thousand feet in four miles. Go left and traverse around Charleston Peak and Mt. Jepson to a junction at 11,000 feet, above timberline. The trail to the right is the "quick" way up the mountain from the valley far below. Continue on to the summit and enjoy the view. There are many ways to go down. Either return the way you came, or continue down the new Mineshaft Pass Trail on the east side of the mountain. This will take you past an old plane wreck on your way back to Dry Lake. If you're crazy, you can hike this sucker in a day, sleeping at your car. Or, if you have more time, try spending the night on the summit of one of the peaks (Peter Leth recommends Charleston) or at the 10,000' saddle. The only water in the area comes in the form of leftover snow pack and the streams down below, so you have to pack it in sometimes. See John Robinson's San Bernardino Mountain Trails book for more detail.
San Gorgonio has snow much of the year and weather is always a factor. Summer ascents require extra water and winter may require snow gear. Be prepared for changing conditions as you gain altitude.
Edited by (in order): OTL Staff
Last updated: 05/22/2009