Bighorn Mtn. via San Gorgonio Mtn.

Bighorn Mtn. via San Gorgonio Mtn.

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 34.09056°N / 116.81871°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 1/Class 2
Sign the Climber's Log


Part of the attractiveness of Bighorn Mountain (10,997 ft. elev.) is that it is off the beaten track. If you’ve gotten yourself to the summit of San Gorgonio, Bighorn lies just to the southeast. This page describes a cross-country route to Bighorn across that geographic curiosity known as The Tarn.

Getting There

Vivian Creek Trail Sign-NOT FOR VOTINGBeginning of Vivian Creek Trail after crossing Mill Creek

This route starts from the Vivian Creek Trailhead. Coming 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 Rd. 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. Now get yourself up the approximate 8-mile route to the summit of San Gorgonio and you’ll be ready to visit Bighorn Mountain.

Route Description

San Gorgonio Mountain, San Bernardino Mtns.San Gorgonio Mtn. (back) from Shields Pk
From the summit of San Gorgonio head over to its southern side and start down the slope selecting the most convenient route as you go. As you start down, you’ll be able to see a field of trees and, just beyond that, an oval-shaped dry lake bed described as “The Tarn” on the USGS topo map. You will be dropping 900 feet from the summit of San Gorgonio to The Tarn.
The Tarn near Dragons Head Mtn., San Bernardino Mtns.The Tarn

When you get to The Tarn (10,600'), proceed east (left) and start ascending a little north toward Bighorn’s west ridge. Proceed to the high point, Bighorn’s summit, at nearly 11,000 feet.
Across the Tarn -NOT FOR VOTINGHiker along The Tarn

For the return, rather than retrace your steps all the way back up to San Gorgonio’s summit, proceed northwesterly dropping back into The Tarn and then start ascending going west until you reach the saddle just north of Dragons Head.
Dragons Head, 10, 866 ft., San Bernardino Mtns., So. Calif.Dragons Head Mtn. (10,866') seen from saddle along return route

From the saddle, contour in a northwesterly direction toward the Vivian Creek Trail. You will drop into and cross a small creek before heading uphill again to join the trail. Depending on your speed, it will take you 30-40 minutes to get from this saddle to the trail. When you reach the trail, you will be well above High Creek so you have a ways to go to get back to the trailhead.

Distance: 16-17 miles on trail and some cross-country
Elevation Gain: About 6,000 feet

Essential Gear

No special gear required in summer or any other time when the terrain is snow and ice free. Otherwise, during the winter season, snowshoes, crampons and ice axe may be necessary.

Other Useful Information

On the way in, the last water source on this route is at High Creek on the Vivian Creek Trail. So plan your water supply accordingly.

Pick up the required hiking permit at Mill Creek Ranger Station off of Highway 38.

USGS Topo: San Gorgonio Mountain 7.5

External Links

San Gorgonio Wilderness Association
San Bernardino National Forest Current Conditions



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