South Fork Trail


The South Fork Trailhead is on Jenks Lake Road, 2.5 miles from Highway 38. The trail begins at the large paved parking lot (6,900′) on Jenks Lake Road East and climbs 2.5 miles where it crosses the Wilderness boundary just beyond a short side trail (NE) to a photo overlook (Poop-Out Hill, 7,740′) and Wilderness information display. The trail then crosses the Wilderness boundary and continues another 1.7 miles to South Fork Meadows (8,200′). Here the trail forks: to the left (east) is Dry Lake (1.5 miles, 9,000′) and to the right (west) is Dollar Lake (2 miles, 9,300′).

Slushy Meadows stream

Stream at South Fork (aka Slushy) Meadows

The Dry Lake camping area (remember that camping is at least 200 feet from meadows, streams, springs, trails, and other occupied sites) is spread through two drainages. The first has only one or two good camping sites, the second, in the largest draw, has almost all the sites as well as Lodgepole Spring (about .25 mile up the trail towards Fish Creek Saddle-9,900′).

Dry Lake Sept 2018

One and three-tenths miles beyond Dry Lake is Trail Flats Camp (no water, 9,700′). Three-tenths mile further on is Mineshaft Saddle (9,960′), from which the hiker may choose to climb to the summit of San Gorgonio Mountain (11,499′).

The 4.5 mile Sky High Trail from Mineshaft Saddle to the peak is occasionally steep, often rocky, and usually snow-covered in the early Fall, Winter, and late Spring. The climb should always be done with care. Warm garments are a necessity since the wind can and may pick up sharply at the peak. Just east of the true peak is Summit Camp, best reached by either the Sky High or Vivian Creek trail. Rocky and windswept, it presents a panoramic view of Southern California. Here you will find a few rock walled shelters to take protection from the frequent buffeting wind.

Camping at Dollar Lake is at Dollar Lakes Forks Trail Camp (9,300′), located approximately .3 mile from the lake. Camping is prohibited within ¼ mile of Dollar lake, including camping on the ridges above the lake.

Dollar Lake Saddle (9,960′ – no camping here, no water) is located .7 mile beyond Dollar Lake. From the Saddle, it is 5 miles to the summit of San Gorgonio Mountain (11,499′). One popular camp accessible from Dollar Lake Saddle is Red Rock Flat (10,100′), ¼ mile west of the saddle. High Meadow Springs (10,400′) is ½ mile further with water available for both camps.

The South Fork Trail was heavily impacted by the 2015 Lake fire and was reopened Summer of 2017. While brush and smaller growth has come back well, the trees will not offer as much shade as they once did, so be prepared for exposure to the Sun on this trail.

South Fork trail Sept 2018