Difficulty: Strenuous | Elevation Gain: 4,702 ft | Length: 16.5 miles roundtrip | Time: 8-9 Hours
This year I’ve been training for Whitney by hiking the six tallest peaks in Southern California aka “The Six Pack Peaks.” This past Friday I just completed hiking San Bernadino Peak and it’s one of my favorite hikes in Southern California! It is quite a strenuous hike at 16.5 miles with a 4,702 ft gain, but it offers outstanding views of neighboring mountains, San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, as well as San Bernadino county and beyond!
You will need a wilderness permit as well as an Adventure Pass to hike this trail. You can purchase the Adventure Pass ahead of time at an REI or Big 5 sporing goods store. You can pick up the wilderness permit at the Mill Creek Ranger Station in Mentone located at 34701 Mill Creek Road. (They open promptly at 8:00AM!) Finding the trailhead was a little challenging. Turn right on to Manzanita, (where the fire station is located) and then make a sharp left. The road will turn into a bumpy dirt road that will eventually lead to the parking lot.
This is quite a difficult hike, but the trail is clearly marked and well maintained. The open and spacious areas off the trail make it perfect for backpacking and camping. My husband and I hiked it on a Friday and only ran into a handful of hikers. A deer even jumped past us while we were hiking the trail!
Best time of the year to hike this trail is from June-October. We hiked it mid June with the temperature between 72-85 degrees. The top was a bit chilly so definitely wear layers and wear sunscreen! This is also one of the greener hikes I’ve been on lately. Southern California has been cursed with a drought for the past 5 years, making most of our trails quite brown and crispy. San Bernadino Peak is quite the opposite! Having had some rain this year has made the hills lush and green, sprinkled with wild flowers! With the birds chirping and butterflies flying around it make the hike absolutely picturesque.