How to Spend an Adventurous Day at San Gorgonio Mountain

Southern California abounds with stunning natural beauty. National Forests, National Monuments, ski resorts, lakes, streams, and miles and miles of excellent hiking trails all await you here. One of the more well-known peaks in this area is San Gorgonio Mountain—learn more about this massive beauty below.  

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Spend a Day at San Gorgonio Mountain

picture of big bear lake scenery, text "big bear lake vacation guide" on topThe highest peak in California South of the Sierra Nevada towers over the surrounding wilderness in snowy, rugged majesty. The San Gorgonio Mountain is also the tallest of the Transverse Ranges, with an elevation of 11,500 feet.

San Gorgonio Mountain (aka Old Greyback) is part of the San Gorgonio Wilderness in the San Bernardino National Forest. It’s also part of the Sand to Snow National Monument, and is, in fact, the focal point of the monument.

You’ll find this region to be some of the most dramatic and rugged terrain in Southern California; the imposing San Gorgonio Mountain is one of eleven peaks in the southeast portion of the San Bernardino Mountains that rise over 10,000 feet.   

Wilderness this beautiful begs to be explored. Streams, mountain lakes, open meadows, and thick forests comprise a diverse environment that sustains many threatened and endangered animal and plant species in addition to an abundance of bear, deer, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep.

For portions of the San Gorgonio Wilderness managed by the San Bernardino National Forest,  it is recommended that you acquire a free permit before you hike any of the trails. This is because there is a limit on how many groups are allowed to be in the wilderness at a given time, and these permits are how rangers keep track of who is in the wilderness.   

To park at any of the trailheads, you’ll also need an Adventure Pass. Permits and passes can be obtained from the Mill Creek Ranger Station.

Hiking the San Gorgonio Mountain

You can bring your pup along, but just remember to keep them on the leash at all times! There are a handful of trails in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, and if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s even one that will take you to the lofty summit of the San Gorgonio Mountain. The best time to visit is during the summer when the weather is more pleasant and the trails more passable.

From there, you’ll enjoy breathtaking, panoramic views of the caliber you can only get from the tallest peak in the region.  

The hike provides quite the challenge, so make sure you are well-prepared and up to the task, physically speaking. It’s a long hike, and the summit is in an alpine zone, and exposed, so make sure to pack layers and bring along water and food.

There are a few different trails that lead to the peak.

Perhaps the most commonly used path is the Vivian Creek Trail, as it is the shortest route at just under 8 miles one way.

Other trails that lead to the summit include the Fish Creek Trail (10 miles), South Fork Trail (around 10 miles), and the Momyer Trail (just over 13 miles).

Stay Nearby

After your rewarding day spent exploring the San Gorgonio Mountain, return to a relaxing cabin in Big Bear Lake. Our mountain oasis welcomes you with fresh, cool breezes, clean air, and wide blue skies, all surrounded by the San Bernardino Mountain National Forest.  

A gorgeous Big Bear Lakefront Cabin is the perfect place to recharge and unwind. Our cabins are in all the best locations throughout Big Bear Lake, whether you want to be close to the ski slopes or the lake.

Be sure to take a look at all of our properties before you book your stay!