I agree. The Fish Creek Trail is a great route. It's remote trailhead is probibly the only reason it's not as popular as the other routes. Please feel free to add this route to the mountain page.
The Vivian Creek Trail is definitely more than 7.8mi. Gary Suttle's book lists it as 8.4mi. I think some of the switchbacks above High Creek Camp may have been lengthened in recent history to make the route longer.
Hikers Warned to Avoid Icy Risks
Four are dead and two missing in Southland mountains. Despite recent sunshine, 'It's just a sheet of ice up there,' a rescue official says.
By Lance Pugmire and Janet Wilson
Times Staff Writers
January 22, 2004
With four Southland hikers dead since New Year's Day and two more missing, authorities on Wednesday closed a popular Mt. San Gorgonio trail and issued strong warnings to those who choose to hike the region's rugged mountains in treacherous conditions.
"Warning, Extreme Icy Conditions … Do Not Hike Alone," stated fliers handed out with hiking permits in the San Gorgonio district of the San Bernardino National Forest beginning Wednesday. U.S. Forest Service personnel were preparing similar advisories to be given to hikers who buy parking and hiking permits in the San Bernardino, Cleveland, Angeles and Los Padres national forests.
"It's just a sheet of ice up there," said John Amrhein, emergency services coordinator for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. "They're going to slip and fall thousands of feet, like these other hikers, if they're not properly prepared. Basically, now would be a nice time to go to the beach."
Amrhein spoke at the command post at the closed Vivian Creek hiking trailhead, where weary search-and-rescue teams fanned out on a foot of fresh snow atop sheer ice, looking for Eugene Kumm, 25, of Seal Beach, missing since he set out alone for San Gorgonio peak Saturday. He had taken ice climbing equipment he'd been given for Christmas, but had never used it before, authorities said.
Heavy cloud cover at higher elevations meant helicopters had to transport rescuers to narrow ravines. The fresh snow overnight could have covered any tracks or other signs of a campsite, but "if he's still moving, we'd be able to see his footprints clearly," Amrhein said.
By late afternoon, with the sun sinking, the search was suspended for another long, cold night.
Amrhein said searchers had seen "not a thing, not a thing."
To the west, along the Pacific Crest Trail, a second team was searching for Ronald Barbour, 69, of La Crescenta, who set out on a combined bike ride and hike Sunday. Searchers planned to be back out this morning looking for both men.
It has been a grim winter for search-and-rescue teams. Four hikers have been found dead in three weeks, none of them novices. Chung Hun "Charles" Koh, 53, of Buena Park left home New Year's Day to hike on Mt. Baldy. His body was found Saturday, nearly 1,000 feet below a spot where a partner thought he had fallen.
Ali Aminian, 51, of Newbury Park was an experienced Sierra Club member who went hiking alone in the same area Jan. 11, while Koh was still missing. Aminian's body was found Jan. 14.
Matthew L. Jones, 15, of San Bernardino tumbled about 400 feet to his death from a steep, burned slope near Devore on Jan. 11.
Kenneth Smith, 66, of Yucaipa died Jan. 5 while ice climbing in the Forest Falls area, not far from where Barbour is missing now.
Even experienced hikers should understand that winter ice hiking requires Alpine mountaineering equipment and skills, authorities said.
Treacherous ice is the common denominator in three of the four deaths, and the disappearances of Kumm and Barbour, said Sgt. Cliff Weston, the San Bernardino County sheriff's search-and-rescue coordinator. Ice covers trails and slopes frequented by hikers, he said.
"Especially on the north-facing slopes, it has remained extremely cold up there," he said. The high-pressure, bright, sunny weather system in recent weeks has created icy conditions with no snow covering it."
That fair weather in the valleys has fooled too many hikers, Weston said.
"Usually, at this time of year, snowfall would keep people out," Weston said. "Sunshine lulls people into a false sense of security. It may be in the 60s and 70s in the valleys, but it's not warm in the mountains. On the mountaintop, the ice continues to stay, and if hikers continue going up there, we're going to continue to have problems."
The icy conditions are the third deadly threat in the mountains, which were ravaged first by fires, then flash floods late last year. The Old fire, which started in San Bernardino, and the deadly flood that ravaged a campground in Devore were blamed for establishing the brittle ground that gave way when Jones fell to his death.
"The vegetation is not strong in burned areas; more rocks are falling than ever before in those areas. There's a clear message being sent to those who go into the burn areas to be aware of your footing," said Ruth Wenstrom, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman.
San Bernardino County authorities have rescued at least six other hikers since Jan. 1. Rescuers typically are called out about 90 times a year, but rarely in such close succession.
Both Mt. Baldy and Mt. San Gorgonio are popular peaks year-round with Southland hikers, and receive snowfall above roughly 7,000 feet in winter. Access to San Gorgonio is regularly limited by use of hiking permits, with 25 to 30 people a day allowed in the area at a time. The Vivian Creek trail is an artery used by hikers to reach the peak. It was closed Wednesday both because of hazardous conditions and because rescuers did not want hikers disturbing any footprints or other clues that might have been left by Kumm.
Authorities urged all hikers to travel with a companion, tell a friend or family member of their exact hiking path, stick to it if at all possible, know the weather forecast, dress warmly and understand that there are many mountainous pockets where cellphones don't work. Hikers going above the snow line should carry ice axes and boot spikes and know how to use them.
While searchers said three of the men who died were experienced hikers, Kumm is better described as an outdoors enthusiast, said Cpl. Darren Goodman of the sheriff's search-and-rescue team.
"He was alone and had no map…. He didn't know the area, and he was in ice with [boot spikes] he just got at Christmas," Goodman said. "Everything he has done indicates he was not an experienced hiker. You don't hike alone. That's suicide."
Dan Hendley, a colleague of Kumm's at Kiewit Industries in Long Beach, said he was surprised to learn that his friend had taken on the 11,500-foot-high mountain by himself.
"He usually goes with his girlfriend or a buddy," said Hendley, who lives across the street from Kumm. "He's a pretty smart dude and a great physical man at 6-2, 240 pounds. But I'm worried about him."
Hendley described his friend as always well-prepared for a hike. He said Kumm had hiked to 6,500 feet a week earlier with his girlfriend. And he said he doesn't have any doubt that his friend is still alive.
"I'm assuming, with all the snow, he just got turned around," Henley said. "If he's not hurt, he's on the move somewhere. He's a pretty strong-willed guy."
Times staff writer Dave McKibben contributed to this report.
I had the pleasure of hiking the Fish Creek Trail on June 22nd. Other than that the trailhead is a 30 minute drive over a sometimes rough road from the highway, I found little reason this should be the least popular route. The trail design is excellent, with the grade perfectly balanced for ascent and descent. It climbs just fast enough to avoid being frustrating on the ascent, but is gentle enough so as to not be pounding on the descent. The route is blessed with views first of Fish Creek Meadows, then the Ten Thousand Foot Ridge and Grinnell Mountain, and then Dry Lake while traversing Lake Peak. After that you have one of the best and most encouraging views of the summit of any route. Finally, though not as well endowed as the Vivian Creek route, there is water avialable at a few locations. All in all, I found the Fish Creek Trail to be a great way to go.
Hiked the South Fork trail to Dry Lake where we camped for the night. Got up early and made our way up the Mineshaft trail. At about 10K feet we began seeing our fist snow obstructing the trail. In several places the trail itself was buried by up to 5 feet of snow making it very slow-going. Once we reached the point where the Mineshaft trail beings it's long series of switchbacks (around 10,500' ) the trail was completely covered, forcing us to go direct - straight up the snow + a bit of rock scrambling up a large scree rock slid.. The snow pack was hard enough to walk on top in some places but we did experience many holes. The finally push to the summit from Sky High trail was relatively easy. The hike back down through Dollar Saddle also had some portions of snow - most notably just before Dry Lake View and directly after Dollar Saddle. Give yourself plenty of time if taking this route as the snow adds much effort.
Just wanted to note your elevation source for 11,490' lists the elevation @ 11,499'.
The correction has been changed. Thanks.
You might want to use this one instead
We hiked to top of San Gorgonio yesterday (8/23/09) via the Vivian Creek trail. The trail descriptions list this route as being 16 miles round trip. This can't be correct. We had a Garmin GPS with us and it showed the total round trip mileage from the parking lot where you first start walking, to the top and back, as being a little over 18 miles round trip! So don't be fooled into thinking you are going for 16 miles. Just no way this is accurate. Hopefully someone will update the trail description with respect to the total miles.
The Vivian Creek route is the most popular, South Fork is #2
If you want a permit for Vivian for a dayhike on the weekend in the summertime, you must get it 3-4 weeks in advance. South Fork camps such as Dry and Dollar Lakes are also filling several weeks in advance.
If you want to hike during the week, you have a better chance of getting a permit.
Self-issue permits aren't always available - they oftentimes run out, or get stolen. So we recommend getting your permit in advance! Please allow at least 72 hours for processing of permits.
And as a reminder, self-issue permits are only good for that day.
Also, Mill Creek RS phone number is now 909-382-2882 and they are closed Tues/Wed.
Thanks and changed.
These mileages were all recently revised by the USFS and SGWA:
(one-way mileages to the top of San G)
Vivian Creek 9.3 miles 5,422' gain
South Fork via Dollar Lake 9.8 miles 4,622' gain
Fish Creek 10.1 miles 3,342' gain
South Fork via Dry Lake 11.34 miles, 4,622' gain
Aspen Grove 12.75 miles, 4,092' gain
Lost Creek Trail via Dry Lake 12.9 miles, 5,182' gain
Momyer 13.2 miles, 6,062' gain
Forsee via Jackstraw 15.18 miles, 4,702' gain
No longer required at all the San Gorgonio Trailheads - only South Fork, Vivian, and Momyer still require it.
I've backcountry skied in Northern Arizona, Utah, and Southern Colorado. I just moved to southern california and want to be back out doing what I love. I would like to ski San Gorgonio. PM me if you are interested.
Because of the 18K+ acre Lake Fire (which is still burning as of 6/24/15), a large section of the San Gorgonio Wilderness including all trails to the summit of San Gorgonio Mountain will be CLOSED until October 1, 2015
Here's the closure order: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/4302/25275/
and here's the map showing the closed area ::
As of July 16th 2015:
"US Forest Service officials re-opened portions of the area closed during the Lake Fire today. The areas closed on June 17, as a result of the 31,359 acre Lake Fire.
The areas reopened include all campgrounds in the Barton Flats and Heartbar areas, including Jenks Lake picnic area. Included in the re-opening were hiking trails outside of the burned area.
“Forsee Creek, San Bernardino Peak, Momyer, and Vivian Creek trailheads offer a great opportunity to create through hikes that include the popular San Bernardino and San Gorgonio peaks,” said Deputy Forest Supervisor John D. Exline. “Visitors can call our Mill Creek Visitor Center (909) 382-2882 and our staff will help plan any enjoyable trip to the forest.”"
SGWA lists the elevation gain from momyer creek trailhead to SG summit as 6,062'. But having just done it, I definitely went down and up considerably--particularly in the first several miles... I'm guessing an additional few hundred feet at least. Does anybody have accurate GPS or other reading of the actual total elevation gain?