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Either a beautiful day/overnight hike to Dry Lake, or add Sky High and South Fork trails for best loop over San Gorgonio.


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Map Key

3.5

Miles

5.6

KM

Point to Point

9,922' 3,024 m

High

8,216' 2,504 m

Low

1,710' 521 m

Up

7' 2 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

19%

Max Grade (11°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Lake

Wilderness Permits are required for overnight trips. They are obtained via the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association at permits.sgwa.org. See South Fork Trail #1E04 for more information. Probably because of COVID-19 and the 2020 fires, permits are available for most days. I did not see anyone when I circled Dry Lake and climbed San Gorgonio in mid-May 2021.

Description

During the snow melt, "Dry" Lake is brim full. How long it retains water depends on whether it is a wet or dry year. When the lake is full, this is my favorite spot in the Southern California Mountains.

The view from the south side of the lake towards the San Gorgonio mountain ridge is the closest to a High Sierra view that one will find anywhere in Southern California. This makes it a great target for a day hike or an overnight trip.

By far, the most common way to reach this lake is via the South Fork Trail. Starting from a parking lot near Jenks Lake, hike 3.7 miles to signed trail junction where the right fork heads towards Dollar Lake and the left fork leads to Dry Lake.

It is another 1.7 miles to the lake for a one-way total of 5.4 miles and 2200 feet of elevation gain. Immediately on reaching Dry Lake, there is a trail fork with signs pointing the way to the two large camping areas near Dry Lake (see Dry Lake to Fish Creek Saddle Trail for more information).

If you are hiking to the top of San Gorgonio via the South Fork Trail, rather than returning the same way you came, it seems much better to make a loop, using the Dry Lake and the Sky High trails either on the way up or on the way down. To continue up the mountain, take the Dry Lake Trail around the west side of the lake.

Once past the lake, the trail makes a moderately steep climb for 1.7 miles to reach the Mineshaft Saddle (9965 feet). About a mile from Dry Lake, there is a flat camping area at 9600 feet. Note that from the camping area, the trail switches back to the northwest to climb a ridge that leads to the saddle. I missed this switchback, but was able to climb very steeply up the draw to the saddle.

There is another campsite at MineShaft saddle. From the trail junction at the saddle, you could take the Sky High Trail to climb San Gorgonio, or you could turn left for the Fish Creek Trail, which leads to Fish Creek Saddle, where the Dry Lake to Fish Creek Saddle trail will take you back to Dry lake.

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Shared By:

Lee Watts

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#19013

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in California

#19,013

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