Mt. San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek

Peak Summited2021 San Gorgonio
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadVivian Creek
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusNo bugs
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition

I really enjoyed this solo day hike and would highly recommend the same to anyone seeking to summit San Gorgonio.

This was one of the more appealing hikes that I've been on in Southern California, with nicely green and wooded sections punctuated with some beautiful vistas. The trail is steepest at the beginning and again when nearing the summit, but the long middle section comparatively flat and makes for a very pleasant experience. The steeper sections, particularly nearer to the summit, are challenging but are not overwhelming. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. No scrambling is required and you could easily do the whole thing without poles. I didn't use them on the way up, but had one out for the way down. I did the hike without any significant pauses except for thirty minutes at the summit to enjoy the view and eat a little. Beware the summit's bandit chipmunks that try to steal your food. They are very cute but also very aggressive (one tried to both get in my backpack and climb my leg).

The hike took me just under 9 hours of moving time (8:50 to be exact). At approximately 19 miles and more than 5100 feet of elevation gain, hower, the hike is a strenuous one. This is especially true in the last few miles to the summit when the trial becomes somewhat steep in places, exposed to the sun, and at a high enough elevation that most people who live lower will likely begin to feel it. While the weather was not too hot for my hike, I still recommend starting very early no matter the conditions. I began at 5:30am and summitted around 10:00am. While I was in the shadow of the mountain for the first 3.5 hours of the hike and the sun was not too bad in the exposed section up to the summit, the way down got hot as the day wore on. I carried about 4.5L of water and that was an appropriate to generous amount for me. There is water available along the trail but I didn't make use of it despite having a filter. Probably no one in SoCal needs to hear this, but definitely bring sunscreen; you'll spend a lot of time in the open or under only partial cover.

The trail was pleasantly uncrowded despite the entire allotment of permits for the day being claimed. I passed a few people on the way up at the very beginning but then saw no one until I passed High Camp a few hours later. At that point I began to run into people who had spent the night making the final trek to the summit. On the way down I ran into a number of small and large groups between the summit and High Camp, I believe mostly day hikers who started after I did. In any case, depending on your start time and your pace you may spend long stretches of time without seeing or hearing anyone as I did. It was a very pleasant experience, especially considering how crowded trails have become over the past year or so.

It was a very long and tiring day (2:30am wake up time to make the two-hour drive to the trailhead), but well worth it. The small lot right by the trailhead was full when I got there at 5:00am (probably campers) but the larger main lot was nearly empty.

Also, fyi, Halfway Camp is not halfway to the peak of San Gorgonio; tt's more like 40 percent of the way.


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