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San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek

At 11,503' "Old Greyback" is the tallest mountain in Southern California.

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Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 17.3 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview :  San Gorgonio is the tallest mountain in Southern California, and a right of passage for serious hikers in the area. At 11,503′, “Old... more »

Tips:  Apply for your permit early. This is the second most popular trailhead in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, and permit quotas often fill up... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Vivian Creek Trailhead Parking

This is a pretty small parking lot that fills up quickly. There is a larger, lower lot for overflow parking down the hill. A National Forest Adventure Pass must be displayed in your car.

At the time of this writing, the first 1/2 mile of the trail has been temporarily rerouted along Mill Creek due to downed trees across the trail.

2. Vivian Creek Trail

The trail crosses the broad, rocky wash to the steep-sided slope on the north side, where you begin a grueling ascent that climbs nearly 1,000 vertical feet in a one mile.

3. Vivian Creek Campground

One you reach the top of the first ridge, the trail passes through Vivian Creek campground. For the next two miles, the trail darts alongside the gently sloping creek through beautiful forest.

4. Stay on the trail

When you cross the creek here, you'll see a false trail that veers left along the creek. Ignore that path and continue straight up the rocky steps ahead. In about 20 yards you'll reach a junction to more campsites along upper Vivian Creek.

5. High Creek Campground

This is the last campground you'll see en route to the summit, and the last water source. This can run dry late in summer, so play it safe and bring enough water for the entire hike.

From here, the trail climbs a number of switchbacks with good western exposure. It can get hot, if you especially if you didn't get an early start.

6. Ridgeline

From here to the summit, the trail hugs this ridge. There is considerable southern exposure. This would be a good time to apply another coat of sunscreen!

There are great views to San Jacinto Peak and across the southland. Take a moment and soak them in.

7. [JCT] Dollar Lake

Here the trail joins the Divide trail from the west. Turn right towards the east. The summit is an easy hike from here.

8. [JCT] Sky High Trail

The Sky High Trail joins the ridgeline trail from the south. Continue straight east to the summit.

9. San Gorgonio Peak

You made it to the top of the highest peak in Southern California. Sources ascribe different elevations to this summit, so I use the 11,503' on the benchmark.

The summit itself is a broad shoulder with small to medium sized rocks. There is a summit log to sign, and if the skies are clear, you should linger as you enjoy your lunch and take in the... More