Mt.San Gorgonio Dry Lake and Dollar Lake Loop
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Trail: 23 miles, 4700 ft. vertical Time: 2 long days round-trip. Difificulty: moderate, non-technical. Season: September-November; March-June (Best)
Relevant Guidebooks & Maps
USGS 7.5' Maps: Moonridge and San Gorgonio are available in the OTL Gear room. Useful Guidebooks: 101 Hikes in Southern California by Jerry Schad includes pieces of this hike with informative descriptions.
From Claremont take 1-10 East to Redlands 1( 33 miles), take the Ford Street Exit and turn left (north).Go 1 mile on Ford Street and turn Right on East CitrusAve. Drive 2 miles on Citrus, and then turn left on CraftonAve. After 1 mile on Crafton you reach MentoneBlvd. which becomes Mill Creek Rd. which becomesHighway 38. After 4 miles on Mentone Mill Creek RdHighway 38 you will reach Mill Creek Ranger Station.STOP AND GET A PERMIT. Continue on Highway 38for 18 miles past Mill Creek Ranger Station. Turn righton Jenks Lake Road which is poorly marked. FollowJenks Lake Road 3 miles to the South fork Trailhead parkinglot.Rules: You must have a permit to go beyond the firstcouple miles of the hike. Backpackers need both an overnightpermit and a stove permit. Call ahead of time foravailability because there are limited backpacking permits.Everything is available at Mill Creek Ranger Station(Phone #: 909-794-1 123).
Gorgonio is the highest peak in SouthernCalifornia at 11,499. This windswept rock protrudesfrom the dense forest as a giant monolith. The top is cold,windy, and steep. Not only is the view spectacular, but atmany points during this 12 mile ascent you can see yourtarget shinning above the wilderness.Following the South Fork Trail from the parkinglot you will pass bathrooms, water, and informationboards (but no pay phone). Follow the South Fork trailout of the parking lot which will take you Southward andup a densely forested canyon. At 1.5 miles you will pass ahorsecamp and barn which marks your departure fromcivilization. At 3.5 miles from the parking lot you willpass a sign stating that permits are required. There is asmall trail to the left after the sign, follow it 50 yards for aspectacular view of San Gorgonio. Then return back tothe mail trail and continue for another half mile to whereSouth Fork Trail splits into Dollar Lake Trail and DryLake Trail (elevation 8080). 50 yards down the Dry LakeTrail there is a large stream which will flow even whenthe lakes are dry. Don't bother with water in the springbecause you are not far from the lakes. Dollar lake isI smaller and nestled in a bowl, but the area offers bettercampsites and a slightly easier ascent to San Gorgonio.Follow Dollar Lake Trail from South Fork Trail. 5.9miles from your beginning or 2.4 miles from the South1 Fork Trail you will pass a large manzanita-cover patch onthe mountainside. This is the turnoff to Dollar Lake and itis easy to miss. The trail to the summit makes a sharp ascentin an open area, just below it is the spur trail, so itshould be obvious once you have missed your turn. Lookfor stacked rocks which mark the spur. This little trail descendsslightly for a windy half mile to Dollar lake(elevation 92 1 9). Spend the night here.The next morning start early for a tough ascent tothe top of San Gorgonio. It is a 4.2 mile hike to the summitwith an elevation gain of 2300 feet. The last twomiles are above treeline, but are not technical. The summitis truly exceptional as you can see most of the SanBernardino National forest but also look down upon theurbanites as 1-1 0 makes a thin line on the horizon.The descent has more switchbacks than the ascentas you follow the Dry Lake Trail northeast (note that itwraps around the south face of the mountain). From thesummit, it is 4.2 miles to Dry Lake (elevation 9065),which makes the perfect lunch/dinner spot as the lake liesat the end of a golden meadow. The descent from Dry. lake is an easy 2.3 miles back to the South Fork Trail. Retracethe original 4 miles.
You must have a permit to go beyond the firstcouple miles of the hike. Backpackers need both an overnightpermit and a stove permit. Call ahead of time foravailability because there are limited backpacking permits.Everything is available at Mill Creek Ranger Station(Phone #: 909-794-1 123). THERE MAY NOT BE WATER ON THETRAIL. Dry Lake and Dollar Lake are rarely dry, but inthe fall make sure you confirm that there is water. Even ifthese lakes are dry the creek that you cross when the DryLake Trail meets the South Fork Trail almost always haswater. Because of the stagnant water sources you musthave a filter cheesecloth for filtration. Iodine will notwork. Altitude sickness is not often a problem, however ifyou feel a headache, nausea, or severe shortness of breathdescend immediately.
Edited by (in order): OTL Staff
Last updated: 05/25/2009