Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 34.08984°N / 116.83074°W
Additional Information County: San Bernardino
Activities Activities: Hiking, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 10866 ft / 3312 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Dragon's Head is a rarely visited summit that resides off the southern slopes of San Gorgonio Mountain in the San Gorgonio Wilderness area of San Bernardino National Forest. This is rather surprising as it is the fourth highest recognized summit in Southern California after San Gorgonio Mountain, Jepson Peak and Bighorn Mountain and it narrowly edges out Anderson Peak by 6 feet in elevation.

Dragon's Head looks rather benign as one proceeds up the Vivian Creek Trail to San Gorgonio's summit. It isn't until you see this mountain from the east that you see its most striking feature, the multi-colored, crumbly rock that is its eastern face. Dragon's Head also offers the steepest summit approach of any of the peaks in the San Gorgonio Wilderness making it arguably the most interesting summit in the area.

Though not named on USGS and USFS topographic maps, it has been named for several decades on Defenders of the San Gorgonio Wilderness maps and the Sierra Club was finally able to add it to their Hundred Peak Section List after several attempts.

Getting There

Fish Creek Trail:
Take I-10 east past San Bernardino to the Orange Street exit (SR 38).
Go one block east, then go north (left) 0.5 mile to Lugonia Avenue. Turn right on SR 38 (east).
Continue east on SR 38 about 33 miles to 1N02 on the right, 1 mile past the first entrance to Heart Bar Campground. Turn right. Note your odometer and go as follows:
At 1.2 miles, fork. Go right on 1N05.
At 2.8 miles, Aspen Grove Trail 2E05 goes west.
At 6.9 miles, fork. Go right.
At 7.2 miles, fork. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses the road here. Go right.
At 7.6 miles, fork. Go right.
At 7.7 miles, Fish Creek Trailhead (1W07). Park here.

Vivian Creek Trail:
Take I-10 east past San Bernardino to the Orange Street exit (SR 38).
Go one block east, then go north (left) 0.5 mile to Lugonia Avenue. Turn right on SR 38 (east).
Go 8.0 miles to the Mill Creek Ranger Station.
Continue east on SR 38 about 5 miles to the Valley of the Falls Road on the right. Turn right.
Drive 4 3/4 miles to the Big Falls parking area at the end of the road. Park here.

Route Descriptions

From Fish Creek/Sky High Trail:
From the parking area (8040'), hike trail 1W07 southwest about 1/2 mile to a junction with the Aspen Grove Trail.
Keep left on 1W07 and continue 4 miles to Fish Creek Saddle at 9805'. Follow the trail for another mile to Dry Lake Saddle. Shortly thereafter meet the trail to Mine Shaft Saddle (9960').
Turn left and follow the Sky High Trail. A sign indicates "San Gorgonio 3 1/2 miles". The trail switchbacks up the eastern and southern flanks of San Gorgonio Peak.
When you have ascended above the 11,000' contour, leave the trail and travel cross-country south toward a very wide, flat, almost vegetation-free area called "The Tarn" (10,600'). About 1/2 mile west of The Tarn is a saddle (10,640').
From this saddle proceed southwest up the use trail which closely follows the ridge to the summit.
Round trip distance is 18.0 miles with 4,100' total elevation gain.

From Vivian Creek Trail:
From the Vivian Creek trailhead parking area (6080'), hike past the locked gate on the initially paved road east for 1/2 mile to where the trail descends into the wash.
Cross the wash and pick up the trail again on the north side. Hike up the Vivian Creek Trail to its intersection with the San Bernardino Peak Trail (1W07) at 11,240'. Turn right.
In about 1/4 mile meet the turnoff to the summit of San Gorgonio Peak. Keep right.
Follow the trail southerly to where it turns eastward at about 11,160'.
At this point leave the trail heading south to a saddle at 10,640'.
From this saddle proceed southwest up the use trail which closely follows the ridge to the summit.
Round trip distance is ~18.0 miles with ~6,200' total elevation gain.

From San Gorgonio Mountain Summit:
Descend 900' on easy slopes cross country to the south finding the shallow depression that leads to The Tarn. About half way to The Tarn you will cross the Sky High Trail. Once you reach The Tarn proceed west to the saddle north of Dragon's Head. Once at the saddle follow the use trail to the summit.
One way distance is ~1.25 miles with 900' loss and 250' gain.

Vivian Creek Trail Variation:
To shave approximately 600' of elevation gain and one mile round trip, leave trail once it exits the trees (~10,700') on a wide, traverse of the bowl SW of San Gorgonio's summit block. Traverse first over sandy slopes, then rock and finally through the forest to Dragon's Head saddle north of the peak. Follow use trail to the summit. Note: this route follows the remnants of a trail that is still indicated on topographic maps, but I could only fine one trace of it near the saddle.

Red Tape

A permit is required for all hikes, limited to 12 hikers per permit. They are issued at Mill Creek Ranger Station, 9 miles from Redlands on SR 38. Day use permits are self-issue on the day of the hike or by mail. Overnight permits must be acquired in person or by mail.

Mill Creek Ranger Station
Route 1, Box 264
Mentone, CA 92359
(909) 794-1123

Additionally a National Forest Adventure Pass is required to park at all trailheads. These passes run $5 per day or $30 per year. Details on this pass and how to purchase online are located at the link above.


Developed campgrounds are available in and around the area and at the trailheads.

There are several back-country camping opportunities in the San Gorgonio Wilderness as detailed here.

Trail conditions along with the most current water conditions are available here.

When to Climb

Dragon's Head can be climbed all year, but expect snow in the winter months. There is year round water at High Creek Camp that should be safe for drinking year round also. Expect icy conditions on the trails during winter so prepare accordingly.

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Named for the summit block that appears to some to be like a reptilian head, as viewed from (Bob Tosh's) Tarn on its east side. Also called "South Ridge".

Names first appear in the Dane Winkleman's "Defenders of the San Gorgonio Wilderness" map (1967).

Peak was added to the HPS Peak List in 1999.