South Fork of the Santa Ana River via Dollar Lake
ElevationAscent: 4,569' 1,393 m
Descent: -4,568' -1,392 m
High: 11,440' 3,487 m
Low: 6,915' 2,108 m
GradeAvg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 71% (35°)
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“Run a moderately graded route to the highest point in Southern California.”— Ben Crowell
From South Fork Meadows, take the right-hand fork of the trail, heading up a ridge past Dollar Lake. This section has most of the steepest climbing. Continue past the spur trail for Dollar Lake to Dollar Lake Saddle. There is a four-way junction at the saddle with a metal sign.
Turn left and take the southeast trail toward the summit of San Gorgonio. The slope becomes more moderate again. The trail now leads around the south sides of Charlton and Jepson peaks. At the saddle between these two peaks (mile 7.2) is a confusing spot where the trail takes a sudden 90-degree turn around a lean-to built out of logs and branches. Carefully note this spot, which is more confusing on the way back. The trail now enters the alpine zone.
At mile 9 is a signed junction with the Vivian Creek Trail. Carefully note this junction, which is less obvious on the way down. Continue east toward the summit. A second sign, at mile 10, marks the Sky High Trail, which you don't want. Stay left for the spur leading to the summit. Continue past a false summit to the true summit block of San Gorgonio Mountain, which has a wooden sign and a trail register.
Return by the same route.
The relevant USGS 1:24,000 maps are Moonridge and San Gorgonio Mountain.
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Land Manager: USFS - San Bernardino National Forest Office
Mar 15, 2020: COVID-19: A notice to all USDA Forest Service visitors