Big Bear and San Gorgonio Mountain Hiking | Big Bear Things to Do

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San Gorgonio Mountain Hiking

sangLocated inside the San Bernardino National Forest, Mt. San Gorgonio, at 11,053 feet, is the highest peak in Southern California. San Gorgino Mountain Hiking to the top is challenging to do in one day, but very doable with proper training. Most complete the hike round-trip in around ten hours, making this a solid idea for a day trip while staying in a Big Bear cabin.


The San Gorgiono mountain hike is a total of 18.5 miles round-trip. You’ll want to pack plenty of water and nutritious food for this one. Again, you should expect to complete the hike in around 10 hours.


Most trail goers will find this to be a very hard hike compared to other hiking in Big Bear options. The long distance means you’ll need plenty of stops to replenish yourself. There are also multiple parts where the trail becomes difficult to pass, and you’ll be doing some climbing. At 11,000 feet, altitude sickness can also be a concern. Conserve energy, take deep breaths, and always be aware of your surroundings at such heights.

walking woman with a backpack

Trail Options

There are seven trails that lead up to the summit of Mt. San Gorgonio. The Fish Creek Trail is probably the least used, but arguably offers the most naturally beautiful views. This trail is 9.1 miles one way, making it quite the round-trip trek.

The most commonly used trail is the Vivian Creek Trail. The trail is approximately 7.8 miles one way, and gains an elevation of about 5,000 feet. It’s also the shortest way to the summit, making it the best trail if you’re short on time.


Hiking to the top of Mt. San Gorgonio means you’ll get to be at the highest vantage point of Southern California. You’ll be able to see the San Bernardino National Forest stretch before you as a pleasant reward for your day hike.

When to Climb

San Gorgonio mountain hiking is available year-round. Most people choose to climb in the summer months for the most pleasant Big Bear hiking conditions. Keep in mind that if you’re hiking in the winter, you may need snowshoes. Always check the weather beforehand for potential inclement conditions.

Permits/Red Tape

A permit is required for day of use of any trail in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. These permits are free and self-issued. A permit is also required to camp anywhere overnight in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. These permits can be found at the Ranger Station in Mentone. If you want a permit for the Vivian Trail day hike for a summertime weekend, you must call 3-4 weeks in advance to reserve your spot.

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