Overview: A Beautiful RidgeThis route is great Class 2 cross-country. It is a much shorter and more adventuresome alternative to taking the Vivian Creek and San Bernardino Peak Divide trails to the 10,459 foot summit of Dobbs Peak. The route starts from the Vivian Creek Trailhead (6,080’) and is about 3.5 miles with 4,500 feet of gain one-way.
This ridge is a very attractive piece of terrain affording wonderful views of the San Gorgonio Wilderness along its 1.7 mile course.
Getting ThereComing from the west, take Interstate 10 to the University Street exit in Redlands. Turn left onto University and proceed through the campus of the University of Redlands to Lugonia Ave./Hwy 38. Turn right at Lugonia and proceed about 14 miles through Mentone and up into the mountains to Forest Falls Road. Bear right onto Forest Falls Road and take it about 4.5 miles (passing through the Town of Forest Falls) to its end where you will find, on the left, the trailhead parking lot for the Vivian Creek Trail.
Red TapeYou need a permit (no fee) to enter the San Gorgonio Wilderness area. Permits can be obtained at the Mill Creek Ranger, 34701 Mill Creek Road, Mentone, CA 92359 (telephone 909.382-2881). This station is located along Highway 38 just past Bryant Street en route to the Vivian Creek trailhead. Thus, you can stop to pick up your permit along the way. However, bear in mind that there are daily quotas for this popular trailhead (and the others in the San Gorgonio Wilderness area) and you might be out of luck on the week-ends if you just show up at the ranger station. Your option is apply for a permit in advance by mail or fax (909)794-1125. See the permit information link below to fill out an application.
You will also need an Adventure Pass or Golden Eagle pass to park at this trailhead. These passes cost $5 per day or $30 for an annual pass and can be purchased at many Forest Service locations and most major sporting good outlets.
Route DescriptionFrom the trailhead parking area, start up the dirt road on the right side of Mill Creek going east. In about ½ mile, you will encounter a sign that indicates you are to cross the creek. Exercise great caution if water is flowing in the creek because the crossing is a long one and the water flow can be deceptive in its strength. After the creek crossing, another sign signals the start of the Vivian Creek Trail.
The first mile on the trail after you cross the creek is extremely steep. Hike past the Wilderness area sign. You will reach Vivian Creek Camp (7,200’), 1.2 miles from the start. At this point, cross the creek and orient yourself toward the north. You will find a faint use trail (there is a huge downed log to the right of the start of the use trail) that starts up a ridge above the camp at elevation 7,200 feet.
Start up this trace trail (it becomes indistinct pretty quickly) heading northwest up the ridge. In about ½ mile, at elevation 7,720 feet, you will come to Dobbs’s west ridge. Take a right (east) on the ridge.
You will now encounter 1.7 miles of consistently steep climbing. If you want an extra challenge, you can scramble over rock along the very top of the ridgeline. Otherwise, where you have a choice, keep to the north (left ) side of the ridge to avoid the heavy brush on the south side. The last 500 feet before the summit is noticeably gentler slope than what has preceded it.
From the trailhead, it is about 3.5 miles with 4,500 feet of gain to the summit.
For the return, you can either retrace the route or, alternatively, head northeast from Dobbs’s summit to the San Bernardino Peak Divide Trail. Take the Divide Trail east to the Vivian Creek Trail and take this trail all the way back to the trailhead.
Essential GearNo special gear required in summer or any other time when the terrain is snow and ice free. Otherwise, snowshoes, crampons and ice axe may be necessary, as appropriate, during the winter season.
Other InformationWater Availability
The only water along this route is at Vivian Creek Camp at the beginning. If you return via Vivian Creek Trail, you can usually find a sufficient flow at High Creek for filtering.
USGS Topos San Gorgonio Mtn. 7.5
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service topo, San Gorgonio Wilderness, San Bernardino National Forest (scale 1:42,240)
External LinksSan Gorgonio Wilderness Permit Information
Current Trail Conditions in the San Gorgonio Wilderness including water availability
National Weather Service forecast for San Bernardino Mountains