QUICK TAKE: San Gorgonio Wilderness, California
DRIVE TIME: The wilderness area is about 100 miles (2 hours) east of Los Angeles.
THE WAY: East of Redlands on CA 38.
TRAILS: A network of 12 trails, all of which are open to pack animals, covers 102 miles. Horse use is concentrated on the Fish Creek, Lost Creek, and South Fork trails. San Gorgonio is snow-free between June and December.
ELEVATION: The lowest point is Stubbe Canyon at 3,200 feet. Mt. San Gorgonio, at 11,499 feet, is the high point.
CAN’T MISS: The lush ferns and wildflowers of Vivian Creek in late June or early July.
CROWD CONTROL: Backcountry visitation peaks between May and September. South Fork (Old Poopout Hill) receives 51 percent of wilderness visitors.
PIT STOP: The Oaks Restaurant on CA 38 in Angelus Oaks is known for its home cooking.
WALK SOFTLY: Trowels to bury human waste are mandatory. So is packing out your toilet paper. South Fork Meadows area deserves especially gentle treatment.
MAPS: Get Trail Map Of The San Gorgonio Wilderness from Tom Harrison Cartography, 2 Falmouth Cove, San Rafael, CA 94901-4465; (800) 265-9090; $7.95.
MORE INFORMATION: Mill Creek Ranger Station, San Bernardino National Forest, 34701 Mill Creek Rd., Mentone, CA 92359; (909) 794-1123. Backcountry camping is free but requires a permit, which should be applied for in advance. Also, the San Gorgonio Volunteer Association maintains an informative Web site for permit application and much more; http://www.edgeinternet.com/sgva/.