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San Gorgonio Mountain Loop via South Fork Trail

based on 93 tracks & routes #2 hike out of 495 in
20.4 mi
Distance
10 hrs 40 min
Time
terrain
4,551 ft
Elev Gain

Overview

This is a difficult loop trail to San Gorgonio Mountain in San Gorgonio Wilderness.

This trail goes by Poopout Hill, Dollar Lake Saddle, Little Charlton Peak, Mine Shaft Saddle, Dry Lake, and South Fork trailhead parking lot.



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    1 year, 5 months ago
    Solo backpacked Thurs 2/15/2024 – South Fork Trailhead parking lot is inaccessible even by 4x4 - it’s not plowed and the 3 foot Jenks Lake Road snow berm blocks the entire front. I parked in the snow at the forest road 1N78 gate which is 7/10 of a mile before the usual TH. The snow on the SF trail was firm enough to bare boot early morning with a heavy pack up to the wilderness boundary but snowshoes required beyond. There were a few water crossings on the Dry Lake Trail to contend with but carefully crossed with snowshoes. Camped in great weather at the always beautiful Dry Lake near Lodgepole Spring. Climbed the north chute after setting up camp and switching to B3 boots and a lighter gear pack. The snow in the center of the chute was well consolidated and free of surface ice, holding every point put to it. Avoiding the upper wind slab areas was easier than last year at this time, making for great fun but still an absolute leg burner. No slab headwall to climb at the top, just the usual late day winds to contend with. Watched the sunset from San Gorgonio summit before descending straight down the center of the chute with crampons/axe/pole and then snowshoeing from the bottom back to Dry Lake by head lamp. Tested the snow on the sides of the chute a few times and post holed 2-3 feet every time. Very calm, peaceful night despite the coyote network in full swing! The following day’s mid-morning return trip to Jenks Lake Road was in very sloppy snow, occasionally post holing 2-3 feet on 25 inch snowshoes. Despite this warmer slow-going exit, it was a very enjoyable trip and always nice to experience the lake and the summit ............................................................................................................................................................................................ Solo hiked Fri 08/04/2023 – Same peaks-new route. Early start on the South Fork-Dry Lake trails to Dry Lake and Mineshaft Saddle. Up Zahniser Peak, out Sky High trail to the C-47 Memorial crash site and up to San Gorgonio summit. Descent to the Big Draw rock pile and then returning via the San Bernardino Peak – South Fork Trails. A few side excursions - south face direct ascent of Jepson, west face direct ascent of Charlton, out and back to Red Rock Flat from Dollar Lake Saddle. Another day of great summer weather in SG with a cooling breeze. Wanted to get some mileage on a loop I’ve never done and this was a good one. Dry Lake is still very picturesque these days and worth the hike in itself. Still one last snow patch on the Sky High route that others have mentioned, S-SW of summit (near the awesome view of Dragon’s Head). Depending on time of day, you can navigate it easily with bare boot step kicks or take the high and dry scramble around it. Self-arrest with a shortened trekking pole will not work here with a short and possibly deadly runout on to the rocks. Scrambling up Jepson linking use trail segments with the rocks was a blast, especially after climbing the ice and snow chutes from Jepson Bowl all winter. Tried to first ascend Charlton with from the east but the Chinquapin/Whitethorn thickets had no use trails through. Ended up going down the SB trail closer to Dollar Saddle and going up the west side which was a good rock scramble. Upper South Fork Trail is very scenic in the afternoon and a great way to come down. A few blowdowns left to hop but not too bad. Thanks again to the trail crews for all of the spring-summer tree removal/cutbacks. Having hopped 35 trees on a day hike in the dead of winter here, I have to say it’s nice. Logged 23.7 miles/5701 vertical ft. with Gaia ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Hiked Weds 05/10/2023 solo – Out on South Fork Trail to Dry Lake Trail to Dry Lake with bare boots. All fallen trees easy to get around even with a full pack but some of the water crossings at South Fork Meadows take a little work. The Dry Lake thaw is really picking up and the lake level is higher than I’ve seen in the past. Climbed the North Chute to San Gorgonio Summit (axes/ crampons) with firm snow and smaller ice zones. Since it was still on the early side with good snow and not very windy, I skipped the chute down climb and took the scenic ridge route back across Big Draw, Jepson, Little Charlton and Charlton peaks. Decided to make a straight descent down Dollar Couloir since the snow was good enough for the late day elevator ride down to Dollar Lake (empty). From there, I completed the loop back to South Fork Meadows. Knowing that the snow is rapidly disappearing and this was probably the last chance to climb it, I made a long day of it and it was definitely worth it. Lots of deer on the way out as the sun went down. Didn’t bring/need snowshoes and was in a T-shirt for most of the afternoon. The kind of day that makes you remember why you hike. Logged 15.7 miles/5000 vertical ft. with Gaia.________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Hiked Hiked Friday 02/10/2023 – Left the South Fork Trail at the Dry Lake Trail junction and went through South Fork Meadows by snowshoe. After switching to crampons and a summit axe, I ventured part way up the base of Charlton Peak’s northern Couloir (col) to check the snow stability. In most places, it was a four finger soft top layer, alternating with a few firmer zones, all free of ice. It was easy to make a good snowball. Although the days have been warmer, it was too early for the sun to affect the snow. Taking a direct route up was long and steep but the snow was great for the most part. Near the top, the snow was very firm with only one small wind slab zone to bypass. The weather on Charlton Peak was very nice - clear with very little wind. The view of Dry Lake was spectacular as were those of the Jepson and San Gorgonio peaks. While following the ridgeline over to Little Charlton Peak, the wind steadily picked up but the view was still amazing. Moving down the ridge further towards Jepson Bowl, I could see the powder/spindrift carry across the summits and down the Jepson chutes which was really something to see. After a food break, I went back to the Charlton summit and decided on a way down. Since the snow on the col was still stable (northern aspect between trees) and there was no easier descent, I down climbed the top third of the col and then tried to glissade but the snow was not hard enough to give a fast ride. I turned on my helmet light at South Fork Meadows and didn’t bother with the snowshoes since the snow had really firmed up on the S.F. Trail (only post holed in a couple of places). I met a couple of nice people ski touring on the way out, the only people I saw during the entire day. This was the second week of great snow and clear weather for me so it was another awesome hiking day. Logged about 13 miles and 4386 vert ft.
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    1 year, 12 months ago
    July 23rd - cloudy most of the way up kept us cool - still warm and a wonderful summit to old gray back - what an adventure....
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Public Tracks

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carletonknight 6 years, 3 months ago
South Fork Loop
From Hikin' Jim: Two night plan: Start at the S. Fork Trailhead. Hike to Lodgepole Spring (reliable water year round except in multi-year droughts). Camp at nearby Lodgepole Camp. The next day, head to the summit and savor the view. After summiting, head to Dollar Lake Camp. There should be water in early season or in wet years coming from a spring at the south end of Dollar Lake. Both Dollar Lake and the spring frequently go dry. Check the conditions before embarking on your hike. Water sources: I'll start at the trailhead and go clockwise. In some times and seasons, there may be other water sources; I'm just trying to hit some of the more important ones here and just those on the route. See other sections for sources off the route. 1. Flume. **** This is the flume that diverts water from the S Fork of the Santa Ana River to Jenks Lake. Just after you pass the wilderness sign near Poopout Saddle, start looking to your left (east). You should see water flowing in the flume below you. The flume for whatever reason isn't shown on most maps but is a nice source of water after you've climbed up from the S Fork Trailhead. 2. Grinnell Crossing. ***** Extremely reliable water, perhaps the most reliable in the entire SGW. 3. Creek crossings in the S Fork meadows area. ***** 4. Lodgepole Spring. **** There may also be water in Dry Lake. The water quality at the spring is typically better. There are also some small springs along the trail and at least one big spring below the trail as you come up from S Fork Meadows. The small springs aren't typically worthwhile (too shallow, too low flow). The one large spring is pretty worthwhile, but it's off trail and you've just passed a wonderful source down in S Fork Meadows and you'll soon get to another good source at Lodgepole, so I don't consider it vital. 5. Dollar Lake Spring. ** The spring is at the extreme south end of the lake, just above the lake. Both the lake and the spring frequently run dry in late season.
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Temecula_Dan 11 months, 3 weeks ago
20230804_San Gorgonio Mtn Loop via South Fork TH (8/4/23, 3:38:33AM)
Solo hiked Fri 08/04/2023 – Same peaks-new route. Early start on the South Fork-Dry Lake trails to Dry Lake and Mineshaft Saddle. Up Zahniser Peak, out Sky High trail to the C-47 Memorial crash site and up to San Gorgonio summit. Descent to the Big Draw rock pile and then returning via the San Bernardino Peak – South Fork Trails. A few side excursions - south face direct ascent of Jepson, west face direct ascent of Charlton, out and back to Red Rock Flat from Dollar Lake Saddle. Another day of great summer weather in SG with a cooling breeze. Wanted to get some mileage on a loop I’ve never done and this was a good one. Dry Lake is still very picturesque these days and worth the hike in itself. Still one last snow patch on the Sky High route that others have mentioned, S-SW of summit (near the awesome view of Dragon’s Head). Depending on time of day, you can navigate it easily with bare boot step kicks or take the high and dry scramble around it. Self-arrest with a shortened trekking pole will not work here with a short and possibly deadly runout on to the rocks. Scrambling up Jepson linking use trail segments with the rocks was a blast, especially after climbing the ice and snow chutes from Jepson Bowl all winter. Tried to first ascend Charlton with from the east but the Chinquapin/Whitethorn thickets had no use trails through. Ended up going down the SB trail closer to Dollar Saddle and going up the west side which was a good rock scramble. Upper South Fork Trail is very scenic in the afternoon and a great way to come down. A few blowdowns left to hop but not too bad. Thanks again to the trail crews for all of the spring-summer tree removal/cutbacks. Having hopped 35 trees on a day hike in the dead of winter here, I have to say it’s nice. Logged 23.7 miles/5701 vertical ft. with Gaia
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JCassidy66 5 years ago
San Gorgonio Loop
Forgot to hit record from the peak heading towards Dollar Lake. I think I’m missing 2 miles or recorded trail.
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david.simandl 8 years, 1 month ago
San Gorgonio via Mine Shaft Saddle
San Gorgonio Wilderness Permit required
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david.simandl 8 years, 1 month ago
San Gorgonio via Mine Shaft Saddle
San Gorgonio Wilderness Permit required
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Olivia 4 years, 10 months ago
Track (9/6/19, 6:10:18AM)
21.61 10hr 30min