My name is Conley Harris and welcome to my article on hiking Mount San Gorgonio! I’m a 21 year old gal who grew up in Brea, California. I currently live in Costa Mesa. I’m a college student athlete at Vanguard University where I play beach volleyball and am studying to become a teacher.
When I’m not at volleyball practice or in class, I’m out on the hiking trails! I have loved being outdoors ever since I was little. As a young girl, my dad would take me on small hikes and adventures almost every weekend. He would hide buried treasure from “pirates” before our little excursions. My sister and I would get so excited to explore the trail and find the treasure.
These moments made me so fond of being outside and hiking for miles on end. Over time, I fell in love with summiting mountains and taking on more difficult trails. I can thank my dad for introducing me to hiking adventures.
My Experience Hiking Mount San Gorgonio
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to hike Mount San Gorgonio and it was epic! It had been on my hiking to-do list as it’s part of the SoCal Six Pack of Peaks, which is something I have been wanting to complete for a while now. I attempted the trail back in October 2020 but it was closed due to the fires. Therefore, I was so excited to get another chance to complete it.
Hiking Mount San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek Trail is quite the challenge. It’s nearly 20 miles, a 5,600 foot elevation gain and it reaches 11,503 feet! Due to the difficult nature of the hike, we decided to arrive at the trailhead at 5am to get an early start. After a 10 mile uphill grind, we summited at 10:45am and it was stunning: beautiful greenery, tall trees, clear day and no wind.
The conditions couldn’t have been better. We finished at 4pm, making our hike 11 hours in total. My favorite thing about hiking San Gorgonio was the journey up the mountain. Every turn and switchback offered new and beautiful views. This hike was diverse in terrain and scenery which made the adventure exciting. The final climb to the top has stunning views of the mountain range. Putting in the effort was worth it for the scenery!
Biggest Challenges of the Hike
The most challenging part of the San Gorgonio hike is the elevation gain and raw mileage. Climbing up 5,600 feet is no easy task and it takes a lot of endurance. The altitude adds another element of difficulty to the summit.
Similarly, climbing down 5,600 feet is very hard on the body. I overcame this through eating lots of food, drinking plenty of water and taking breaks every so often. You can push yourself on a hike but it’s also important that the hike is enjoyable! Therefore, taking breaks on a hard trail is essential.
Tips for Hiking Mount San Gorgonio
I personally drove to San Gorgonio the morning that I hiked it because I live relatively close (I was about two hours away). But if you don’t live close by, I recommend car camping at the parking lot that is right by the trailhead.
You do need to secure a permit to hike Mount San Gorgonio but it’s fairly easy to get one. I got my permit on the San Gorgonio Wilderness website a week in advance. I recommend snagging a permit as early as you can, especially because they are limited. Some tips for hiking San Gorgonio:
- Pack at least 3L of water (3.5 recommended)
- I brought 3000 calories of food which was plenty
- Bring a down jacket for the peak because it can get chilly
- Trekking poles are a must
- Sunblock! Hiking at 11,000 feet will make you burn easily!
- Hydrate the night before to avoid altitude sickness
- Start the trail as early as possible. No later than 6am.
- Take breaks and have fun!