Summary: If you time this one right, you are in for a real treat. Dry Lake got its name for an obvious reason. As the summer progresses, the lake dries up and becomes a meadow. However, during runoff, the lake is a beautiful alpine reflection of the wilderness, and worth every uphill step it takes to get there.
The trail passes by several streams, this year (2005) after all the rain, they were virtual rivers. In late June there were wildflowers everywhere, and water was abundant. Earlier, there was so much snow as to make the trip improbable without snow gear, and there is a real danger of avalanche here too, so only go in winter if you are experienced in snow outings. This hike takes place entirely on North facing slopes.
There are some nice stops like Horse Meadows along the trail, and while it is steep, it is pleasantly graded, enough so that horses routinely travel this route.
South Fork is one of the most popular routes in the wilderness.
Trailhead: Take the 10 east to Redlands, exit University Ave. Turn right and then make a quick left at the light onto Citrus. Turn left again on Judson/Ford St. Follow it to Lugonia Ave(38). make a right. Lugonia becomes Mentone Blvd and Mill Creek Road. Permits are required for all trips into the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Get them early, this is a popular trail. The ranger station is a few miles from Redlands on the right hand side of the road. Continue on the 38 past Mountain Home Village. Follow the 38 as it makes the hairpin turn left and continue up the mountain. Follow it past Angelus Oaks and turn right onto Jenks Lake Road. Continue to the trailhead parking for South Fork Trail.
Park in the enormous Disneyland size parking lot and head south across the road for the trailhead. The trail is well marked all the way to Dry Lake, and there are some side routes and trail junctions. Pay attention to the signs. (Lat:34.12159 Lon:-116.82919)
Trail Guides for Dry Lake - South Fork Trail:
San Bernardino Mountain Trails - 100 Hikes in Southern California
by John W. Robinson (Wilderness Press)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Horses,
Ranger Contact: Mill Creek Ranger Station - SBNF (909) 382-2881
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 Vanessa on 5/14/2013
I just did this hike two days ago. It was incredible! The weather was perfect, the sky was blue, & the sun shining. Dry Lake was almost completely dry. You can read my summary of it and see my pictures here.
Reviewed by Richard on 4/15/2013
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Reviewed by Myself on 9/5/2012
8/19/12 Dry Lake still has some water in it. Lodgepole spring flow is about .2miles up camp
Reviewed by T.J. on 7/13/2012
LOVE this trail. You'll work a bit, particularly on the switchbacks before the lake, but you're enticed by beautiful views all the way up and rewarded when the lake opens up before you. This is one you'll want to time so the lake itself is full and, from what I've been told, the one trail in the Wilderness where you might actually have a ranger ask to see your permit. The length is great for a day hike and the descent at sunset can be spectacular. While the San Gabriels are my 'home' mountains I always look forward to any chance I have to do some walking on the San Gorgonio dirt. This is a must-do for the SoCal hiker.
Reviewed by Colin on 1/25/2012
My wife and spent two nights at Dry Lake this past weekend. the conditions Friday were perfect. There was no ice on the trail going up, and very little snow. We need not need snowshoes or crampons the negotiate the hike in. We spent a very rainy / snowy / windy Saturday at Drylake, spent mostly inside our tent. It was beautiful and we were completely alone. The hike out Sunday was more difficult than the hike in. The weather on Saturday had produced a mixture of snow / ice along a majority of the trail. We still didn't use crampons, but probably should have. All in all, if you are up for some snow camping, Dry Lake is a beautiful place.
Reviewed by Lori on 1/9/2012
Went to hike on Saturday 1/7/12. Snow and ice from beginning of trail so could not go on due to bad knees. Did not want to take a chance of slipping which would have been a gimmee. Hope to go back in June when the snow melts.
Reviewed by cch on 12/28/2011
Did Dec 26 as snowshoe. Snow on the ground all the way from trailhead, but snowshoes only required last couple of miles. Saw a few others on the trail. Lake covered in snow and ice.
Reviewed by David L. on 6/9/2010
The lake is almost gone, but there's still some water there and the trail is just about completely clear of snow. The hike offers great views of San G and some of the other higher summits. You can read my trip report here.
Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
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