Location: Angelus Oaks, CA (Trail head); Forest Falls, CA (Exit Point)
Distance: 19 miles
Elevation Change: 6000 feet at trail-head to 11,499 at peak (6100 foot elevation gain)
Time of year best to hike: Late April thru October
Recommended Maps: San Bernardino National Forest
Trail-head: I began at Southfork and took Lost Creek Trail to the top and came down via Vivian Creek Trail into Forest Falls. I will give directions to both.
From Redlands - take the 38 East. Stop at the Mill Creek Ranger Station to get your permit, if it is during the week, you will probably be okay if you are early. If it is a weekend, you might want to get your permit in advance, contact them for instructions ((909)382-2881).
To get to the Lost Creek Trail, continue on the 38 East for approximately 22 miles to the South Fork Camp/Trail-head. There will be several places to park on either side of the highway. The trail is on the south side of the road. There will be signs pointing in the direction of the Lost Creek Trail.
To get to the Vivian Creek Trail, veer right off Highway 38 onto Valley of the Falls Road approximately 6 miles from the Ranger Station. Stay on the Valley of the Falls Road for another 4 miles and the road will end at a picnic area. You can park here. Vivian Creek Trail can be found by hiking a 1/4 mile futher up the river and crossing to the opposite side. A trail sign can be found here.
Summary: The hike is very steep and rough. The Lost Creek Trail is 11 miles to the highest peak in southern California. The trail finds itself switching back up very steep mountain sides. At the lip of each ridge, the sound of water running far below can be heard. There are several mountain streams to be crossed and enjoyed. Once Lost Creek Trail hits Grinnell Ridge Campground, the trail becomes South Fork Trail, follow this trail to the top. The trees are pine, fir, oak. Eventually one will find themselves above the treeline, but just before this, you should be greeted by some of the oldest trees in the region. The lodgepole pine has twisted, bent, and scarred itself into surviving a very extreme, unforgiving climate.
There are several campgrounds in the area. The Ranger Station will be able to assure you of which are suitable at the time and where the running water is. I hiked this in June and there was a lot of water at that time. The evening can bring very low temps in the summer and the wind is usually quite strong. UV rays are potent and there is snow pack at the upper levels year round. This is a very rewarding hike. The view from the top is stupendous and unmatched by any other in southern Califonia.