Summary: This trail is a monster, definitely one of the most demanding in Southern California. You gain nearly a vertical mile in less than 8 miles distance. On the way up, you will encounter no more than 400 yards of downhill, and around the same amount for flat trail. It is up the entire way, and most of that way is steep. So, the way back is easy pickin's.
The steepest sections are the beginning mile of the trail, after you cross the creek (don't tire yourself out here, no matter how badly you want to get up, I paid for it later,) and the mile and a half after the saddle where you can first spot San Jacinto, nearing the summit.
Only take this trail if you are in top shape. It tested my endurance, I could see the peak and was thinking of turning around. It took me nearly 7 hours to summit, and only 3 1/2 to get down. If I do this one again, I'll camp, so I can enjoy it.
The view is obscured by shoddy air, but you do get a lot of cool forest scenery on the way up.
Trailhead: 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. They leave permits outside for first come, first serve in the morning before they open.
Continue on the 38 East for a few miles, turn right at the junction with Valley of The Falls Road, follow this road until it ends and park in the parking area near the locked gate.
Follow the road until you actually see the trail veer off into the creek-bed. The second sign's arrow is pointing to the creek, but don't go there yet, follow the road for another 1/4 mile, then cross, you'll see the trail.
BRING BUG REPELLENT! You will need it desperately! (Lat:34.09905 Lon:-116.82476)
Trail Guides for San Gorgonio Via Vivian Creek:
by Tom Sinestra and Ann Marie Brown (Avalon Travel)
Day Hikers Guide to Southern California
by John McKinney (Olympus Press)
San Bernardino Mountain Trails - 100 Hikes in Southern California
by John W. Robinson (Wilderness Press)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: San Gorgonio Wilderness - Mill Creek Ranger Station (909)794-1123
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 2 of 23 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Shane on 11/11/2011
Hiked this November 10th and stayed overnight just shy of the summit. Very scenic hike, very doable i had a 40lbs pack and made it to 10,000 feet threw a foot or more of snow with breaks and chit chat in about 5 hours. If you plan to summit in the winter don't bother with crampons but i would suggest snow shoes. Good luck and be safe!
Reviewed by G and L Matt on 10/16/2011
Very nice scenic hike, trail well maintained and easy to follow but lots of slippery, rocky terrain also. Good hiking boots a must. Camped at Vivian Creek the first night, then after a quick cup of coffee and pastry, hit the trail by 8am (really too late to start. Got to top by 1:30 hiked out before dark after packing up our gear on way out. Good weather, spectacular scenery, and butt kicking exercise... A must do!
Reviewed by Geez on 9/19/2011
After reading all of the reviews I wonder if I was on the same hike as everyone else. The first mile up along Vivian Creek is over fast. The shallow switchbacks from High Creek camp to the ridge are annoying. There's good water all the way to High Creek, so dont weigh yourself down. Overall, its kind of a dump. Amazing that people go up there and tag everything. The chipmunks on the summit have obviously been hand fed and they are extremely aggressive. 7 hours round trip.
Reviewed by cstone on 8/27/2011
this hike is not for the faint of heart (literally), this baby is tough from the get-go, gives you a brief respite through the middle, and then tries to finish you off. the last 1/2 mike is quite easy, but you've already climbed 5k+ feet at that point. amazing views on a clear day...and a sense on accomplishment at the top. we had no problem following the trails, just kept looking for the one going "up"!
Reviewed by Tom on 8/16/2011
The start of my hike was delayed over an hour by looking for the trail 1/4 mile up vivian creek, as described in the summary above. Instead, I should have followed the trail sign, which was accurate as the trail started 90 degrees to the left on the other side of the creek, approximately 1/2 mile from the parking lot. Anyway, this hike was very long and the top didn't compare to San Jacinto, but was still nice. As JF described below, the trail near the top somewhat disappears. I can check this off the list but I probably won't do this one again.
Reviewed by J.F. on 8/15/2011
Take a map (Tom Harrison) in case you go off the trail. Once you get closer to the top, various trails cross each other and you need to pay attention to the signs or you may end up on another trail. We managed to get to the top in 7.5 hours (including the additional 2 miles for getting lost) and managed to make it down in 4 hours. Take a compass and periodically check your direction of travel. My knees felt like they were ready to burst, but the next day I was feeling great! Just make sure you replenish your body with food. I recommend taking electrolyte powder to mix with you water for replenishment (you can find them at REI). This trail is not for the weak! Hope this helps you on your hike. Enjoy. God Bless!
Reviewed by J.F. on 8/15/2011
Vivian Creek Trail. Definitely a must do!! This trail will definitely test your endurance. We spent the night in a hotel in Calimesa, CA (approx. 30 minutes away from trailhead). We started at 6am. We missed a turn on the trail and hiked an extra 1 mile out and 1 mile back (total 2 extra miles). We got back on track and headed to the top. The switch backs are a monster and even worse on the way down. Please, please take a water filter so you can filter water as you need. Many people out of water on the trail. Do not underestimate the elevation gain. Take plenty of snacks. Weather was great. Not too hot and you get nice winds along the way to cool you down. We underestimated the amount of bugs. They did not bother us on the trail, but when w
Reviewed by JimJim1957 on 8/6/2011
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