Description - The United States Congress designated the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area as part of the original Wilderness Act of 1964 and it now has a total of 94,702 acres.
High above the crowded cities of Southern California, San Gorgonio Wilderness embraces the summit of the San Bernardino Mountain Range on national forestland and slides down the eastern slope onto 37,980 acres of BLM land added in 1994. An exquisite virgin forest protects meadows and two small lakes, while a forest opens onto massive barren slopes reaching from timberline to the top of San Gorgonio Mountain. At 11,502 feet, this is the highest point in all of Southern California. Unparalleled views of the area and the nearby desert can be seen from San Gorgonio Mountain and other high summits, including San Bernardino Peak (10,624 feet) and East San Bernardino Peak (10,630 feet). The entire area lies rough and rugged, with water often difficult to find. On the BLM land, which can be accessed from State Highway 62 at Morongo Valley, the topography alters rapidly from low hills and canyons to steep mountainsides. You'll find a great diversity of flora and fauna typical of deserts and alpine zones, coastal and mountain environments.
About 100 miles of trails, heavily used by humans, provide access to the area, primarily in the northern section with its lakes and high peaks. Wood fires are prohibited except in designated places. Grazing of livestock in meadows is prohibited. Free hiking and camping permits are handled through the Mill Creek or Big Bear Ranger Stations.
- As with all of San Bernardino National Forest, recreation abounds on the San Gorgonio Ranger District. Camping opportunities are available at five locations with features that include handicapped accessible sites, hot showers, drinking water, and nearby fishing opportunities. The District also features six group campgrounds accommodating groups up to 100 people.
There are three picnic sites on the District: Falls, Jenks Lake and Thurman Flats. Falls has drinking water and handicapped accessible amenities. Jenks Lake features nearby fishing opportunities and handicapped accessible amenities. Generally, the picnic areas are equipped with tables, stoves or barbecues, and vault toilets.
Many levels of trails exist on the District. A quick hike to one of Southern California's highest waterfalls is the 0.3-mile Big Falls Trail located at Falls Picnic Area. Excursions into the San Gorgonio Wilderness allow for a more rugged experience. Backpackers, hikers and horseback riders should be prepared before venturing into this remote forest land. Free permits are required for entrance into the San Gorgonio Wilderness.
Recreation - The San Gorgonio Ranger District is a place where you can hike, camp, mountain bike, horseback ride, fish, view flora and fauna, or just enjoy the beautiful scenery, much of which is virgin timber.
Forest visitors on the San Bernardino, Cleveland, Angeles and Los Padres National Forests of Southern California are required to purchase an Adventure Pass and display it on their vehicle when parked in the Forest. The cost is $5 per day or $30 per year and can be purchased in any Forest Service office or over 350 businesses throughout Southern California.
Climate - Climate on the San Bernardino varies greatly with elevation. Temperatures can be 70 degrees F in Los Angeles while only 40 degrees F at Big Bear Lake. It can snow almost any month of the year in the highest elevations. Heavy snow is possible in the high elevations during the winter months. Most of the precipitation comes between November and April so summers tend to be dry. Summer temperatures are normally warm to hot at the low elevations and more moderate at the higher elevations. Nighttime temperatures can be cool in the mountains, even during the summer months. Weather can change quickly, especially in the high elevations. Check weather forecasts and avoid storms.
San Gorgonio Ranger District is located northeast of San Bernardino, California. The District is most easily reached via Interstate 10 to Highway 38.
Directions from Bear Valley/Woodlands, CA: Travel west along Highway 38 to the Barton Flats Area where most trailheads are located.