Summary: This is a no-nonsense elevation gainer. You start at 5200 feet and in a little over 3.5 miles gain 2600 feet to a final elevation at or near 7800 feet. Most of the early part of the trail is through oak, some scattered pine and chaparral. Views of the San Gabriels and the San Gorgonio Wilderness open up almost immediately. The real beauty comes, however, when you reach the high country and the alpine woods.
From the fire lookout on top you are afforded a 360' view of Fuller Ridge, San Jacinto, the San Gabriels, San Gorgonio and all of Southern California in-between, albeit the view is interrupted by the lookout tower. Still, this is a fascinating mountain to climb.
The best time to go is winter when Black Mountain Road is closed, so you can avoid people who have taken their cars to the top, and have the views all to yourself. If you do choose winter, watch out for shady icy sections of the trail. Some areas are very dangerous.
Trailhead: Take the 10 East to Banning. Exit Highway 243, and follow the signs for the highway. About one-two miles past the Vista Grande Ranger Station, you will see a sign for Black Mountain trail. Turn left and follow the dirt road to a parking area.
The trail is pretty easy to follow. In some places it is hard to discern when it follows a rocky wash or tops sandy boulders, just stop to look around and you'll find it.
Black Mountain Road will take you right to the top in summertime, so the best time to make this trip is winter when the road is closed and icy. Even on a Saturday, you won't see many people. The clear winter skies are also a bonus. (Lat:33.82395 Lon:-116.75758)
Trail Guides for Black Mountain:
San Bernardino Mountain Trails - 100 Hikes in Southern California
by John W. Robinson (Wilderness Press)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Winter,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: San Bernardino National Forest (909)382-2922
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Allen Riedel, who has posted 123 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 3 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Nate on 6/2/2013
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Reviewed by BG on 7/3/2012
I (with my 8-year old, and a 2-year old on my back) went up the trail for a ways, but also - as other comments have been left - got a bit disoriented in an area littered with dead wood. It would be great if they had trail markers, because it can be very easy to lose (when we lost it we actually had a bit of trouble finding it for the trip back down!).
Reviewed by Kennedy Family on 9/19/2010
Hiked this yesterday September 18, 2010. I took my wife and 2 year old son. It was a tough hike for us but we made it to the lookout. Make sure you look for the water tower to the right once you hit the dirt road. Then just "head up" to get to the summit. Look for the American flag. The ascent was a challenge but well worth it for the view at the top. 5.5 hours up and 2.5 hours down for us.
Reviewed by Erin on 7/15/2010
We hiked this June 21, 2010. It's a gorgeous hike but some of the trail is narrow and unkept. For the most part it's easy to follow. We did get lost at the top and couldn't find the Fire Look Out. You have to hike to the campground (Down the road and turn right on the next road). This hike took us 7.5 hours. It was a strenous day. Very hot and flies were landing on us the whole way. I have now invested in 100 percent DEET. Trail and views are spectacular!!!! Bring lots of snacks and water!
Reviewed by Koger on 1/6/2010
So this hike is definitely a butt kicker. However, it's in very poor condition. I hiked up about a mile or two and lost the trail in a dead end surrounded by dead wood and brush after a gorgeous boulder field. This trail needs some better upkeep because it's definitely a beautiful hike, but it's easy to lose the trail. I didn't make it to the lookout, so that bummed me. I hope it gets tidied up.
Reviewed by Jeff Hovis on 10/27/2009
This hike reminds you of why you should stay in shape!Well worth the strenous hike for the great views all along the way.Hike & views made even better with the spectacular lunch my wife packed me.
Reviewed by Ron Shay on 10/27/2009
This was a very good hike , some parts are hard hiking on the path . but well worth it when you stop and look at the views high on the mountain side .then the end brings you into some of southern ca, big pines its like your in northern ca. will be doing it again soon..
Reviewed by Valle Docweiler on 8/11/2009
nice hike, scenery of the nearby mountains is pretty, a bit hazy even for early morning, photos came out washed out. as previously stated, the middle third is overgrown with manzanitas and ferns, a few fallen trees, but passable. This is August, finished 100 oz about an hour away from return to the parking lot. when you make it to the saddle, there is a fire road and closed gate for cars.
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