2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – June 1997

San Gorgonio Wilderness: 2 Miles Above L.A.

Sierra scenery at L.A.'s backdoor.

by: Eric Hansen

PAGE 1 2

When life in L.A. has you ready to reenact Michael Douglas' role in the movie Falling Down (that's the one about the average guy who goes ballistic), don't worry because relief is in sight. Well, it is on smog-free days. Off in the distance and a mere 2-hour drive east of downtown (an easy commute in these parts) is 11,499-foot Mt. San Gorgonio. Here you'll find virgin forests, small lakes, vast open slopes, and a resident herd of bighorn sheep-if you're willing to sweat. "Old Grayback" towers more than 5,000 feet above most approach routes.

Visiting this area will leave you wondering whether set designers in Hollywood recreated the Sierra Nevada at the city limits. Picture an east-west running ridge that cruises at the 10,000-foot level for more than 10 miles, building to a grand finale at Mt. San Gorgonio. Falling away to either side are 59,000 acres of federally designated wilderness. Running up to the ridge, like so many ribs to a crooked spine, are a half dozen trails that start at elevations ranging from 5,500 to 8,000 feet. Trails in the wilderness interconnect to give backpackers a variety of trip choices in the two- to four-day range. All the huffing and puffing to reach the crest trails (Summit Ridge and Sky High) is worth it for the views that stretch from the Sierra to Mexico.

Just as notable are the beguiling ecosystems--and the campsites--tucked away on the mountain flanks. Savvy hikers know the double crossing of Mine Shaft Saddle is worth the effort required to visit the secluded Big Tree site on the North Fork of the Whitewater River. Your reward is abundant wildlife, the soothing sound of gurgling water, and views of Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree National Park.

Looking for a perfect weekend expedition? Then hike the loop that goes up Momyer Creek Trail and east 3 miles along the crest to a descent of the Vivian Creek Trail. This 19-mile trip features one of the quietest trails in the area (Momyer), a spectacular ridge walk, and the opportunity to bag the big peak with a half-mile side trip.

PAGE 1 2

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Sep 03, 2011

This page has an invalid link to the SGWA (San Gorgonio Wilderness Association - used to be the SGVA). Here is the correct one:

Thanks for correcting this.


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Blood in the streets of DC
Posted On: Jul 31, 2014
Submitted By: double cabin
Trailhead Register
Mile, Mile and a half
Posted On: Jul 31, 2014
Submitted By: GoBlueHiker
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions