Trails reopen as forest modifies two fire area closures

Area reopenings include the Pacific Crest Trail and a portion of the San Gorgonio Wilderness

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif—Officials with San Bernardino National Forest have modified the closure areas for two wildfires that occurred last year. The Snow Fire closure was modified to reopen the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) between Black Mountain Road (4S01) and Snow Creek Village. The El Dorado Fire closure has been modified to reopen some areas of the San Gorgonio Wilderness in Sand to Snow National Monument and close additional areas in the Barton Flats area. More details can be found below.

Snow Fire

After crews performed stormproofing along the trail, the PCT reopened Saturday, April 3. Off-trail areas within the closure area remain closed. Dispersed camping and cross-country travel are not allowed at this time. Vehicle access to the trail junction with Black Mountain Road (4S01) remains closed due to snow and ice. 

The Snow Fire was ignited on September 17, 2020, and grew to 6,254 acres.

El Dorado Fire reopening

A portion of the San Gorgonio Wilderness within Sand to Snow National Monument will reopen Saturday, April 10. The South Fork, Lost Creek, Aspen Grove Trail, and Fish Creek trailheads will reopen, but access to some interior trails, such as the San Bernardino Peak Trail west of Dollar Lake Saddle will be closed (see maps for details). Hikers should take note of current trail access information, which is noted below in the FAQs.

Limited, but free wilderness permits for day hiking and overnight camping are required and can be obtained on this site under Wilderness Permits from the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association, a Forest Service partner. 

New El Dorado Fire closure areas

New areas outside the wilderness and north of Jenks Lake Road will close due to the threat of mud slides and debris flows from spring rains and summer monsoons. Included within the area closure are the Ponderosa Nature Trail, Whispering Pines Trail, and a portion of the Santa Ana River Trail. Rokolai Road (1N55), Hathaway West Road (1N75), Hill Ranch Road (1N86) and Stetson Hollow Road (1N86B) will close. For details of this new closure area, see the Exhibit B map.

The El Dorado Fire ignited on September 5, 2020, and grew to 22,744 acres.

Trail FAQs

Can I drive to all the trailheads?

Forest Service roads 1N02 and 1N05 that serve the Aspen Grove and Fish Creek trailheads were closed for the winter season and will reopen when dangerous ice and snow conditions have subsided and hazard trees and rocks are mitigated. Hikers may hike to these trailhead, but parking is very limited and the distance may be considerable for some visitors.

What are the trail conditions like?

Trail conditions are variable and can change at any time. Winter conditions still exist and hikers should bring appropriate gear for safe travel. Field reports indicate snow starting at about 8,500 feet. Additionally, the Lost Creek Trail was burned over in the 2015 Lake Fire. A scratch trail has been marked, but may be hard to follow for some visitors. 

When will Forest Falls area trailheads reopen?

Forest staff are currently evaluating reopening them soon. Please stay tuned.

Can I hike San Bernardino Peak?

This popular trail remains closed at this time, as the El Dorado Fire burned through large portions of the western section of the wilderness and monument.

Backcountry Store sales suspended for now

Due to the continuing pandemic, we’ve decided to suspend sales from the Backcountry Store. With all the shutdown orders it’s extremely difficult for our volunteers to get to the products, pack and ship them. We hope to be back in a few months! And we’d like to mention yet again that if you shop online, please shop through Amazon Smile and choose San Gorgonio Wilderness Association as your charity of choice. It costs you nothing – you can’t make giving easier than that!

Remaining open campgrounds will close

Per Regional Order 20-06, all developed campgrounds are closed in the Pacific Southwest Region. Most campgrounds in San Bernardino National Forest were already closed anyway. From the Forest Service announcement:

Why are these campgrounds closing?

These closures are to align with the Governor’s Regional Stay Home Order, which went into effect in Southern California yesterday after ICU capacity dropped below 15%. The order says campgrounds are to close.

Are day use activities allowed?

Yes! In fact, the Regional Stay Home Order specifically cites outdoor recreation as important to Californian’s physical health and wellbeing.

When will these campgrounds reopen?

All Regional Stay Home Orders are to be in effect for at least three weeks, meaning this regional order would be lifted on January 7. This, however, could be extended if ICU capacity remains below the 15% threshold.

If the Regional Stay Home Order is about campgrounds, when will dispersed camping be allowed?

Dispersed camping and yellow post site camping are currently prohibited due to fire danger. We’ve had a record-breaking summer of visitor numbers taking part in these activities in the backcountry. Should a Santa Ana wind-driven fire start in one of these areas, a significant number of visitors could become entrapped, hurt or worse, especially if a fire starts in the middle of the night. Imagine trying to evacuate far-off places like Holcomb Valley or Thomas Mountain with the crowds we’ve been receiving this year. Until we receive significant precipitation to take us out of peak fire season, this prohibition will remain in effect. If precipitation occurs before this regional order expires, we will consult with the region on reopening these activities or not due to COVID.

For more information visit the Forest Service website

Shopping Online?

Of course you’re shopping online for the holidays, aren’t we all? You can make a difference while you shop Amazon this holiday season. Simply shop at smile.amazon.com/ch/33-0478045 or with AmazonSmile ON in the Amazon Shopping app and AmazonSmile donates to San Gorgonio Wilderness Association.

Free Access for 5th Graders

For the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, U.S. fifth graders can bring their families to national parks, wildlife refuges and other Department of the Interior managed public lands and waters for free! Learn more about the program at the link below.

https://www.nps.gov/kids/fifthgrade.htm

Aspen Grove Trail now open

As of October 11, 2020, the Forest Service has exempted the Aspen Grove trail from the closure order. Therefore we will be issuing permits for Aspen Grove. From the Facebook page:

“A new forest closure has gone into effect for the areas within and surrounding the #ElDoradoFire. This was enacted for both visitor and firefighter safety. This includes the entire San Gorgonio Wilderness, and trails that lead into it, including Vivian Creek, Momyer, San Bernardino Peak, Forsee, South Fork, and Fish Creek trails (exemption: Aspen Grove Trail to the Aspen Grove, about a quarter mile in. The trail is closed to the south of the grove. Permit required).”

Forest re-opens; Wilderness still closed

The Forest Service has re-opened the San Bernardino National Forest, with some restrictions. The San Gorgonio Wilderness is still closed. As of October 10, 2020, there are still areas burning inside the wilderness and this is expected to continue until the first significant rain or snowfall.

Read the entire announcement here – Forest Service News and Alerts

SGWA 2020 Yearbook is here!

SGWA Yearbook Cover Photo

There ARE things to celebrate in 2020. Click on the image above to read about our dedicated volunteers past and present.

It’s a large PDF file, please be patient while it loads. If you want to download it separately, click here.

Revised Forest closure order – SBNF still closed

The Forest Service has issued a revised forest closure order for California National Forests. Seven National Forests (NF) in California remain closed: Angeles NF, Cleveland NF, Los Padres NF, Inyo NF, San Bernardino NF, Sequoia NF, and Sierra NF. This decision will continue to be reviewed daily, taking fire and weather conditions into account.

This includes the San Gorgonio Wilderness. No permits will be issued for any future dates until the closure is lifted.

“We understand how important access to national forests is to our visitors,” said Randy Moore, Regional Forester for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region. “As we evaluate fire and weather conditions on a daily basis, we will continue to make adjustments to ensure safe visitation. Our aim continues to prevent any new fires on the landscape.”

San Bernardino NF closure extended

The USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region announces that current closure orders and fire prohibitions in California have been extended. This decision will be evaluated daily, taking fire and weather conditions into account.

There is no set date for re-opening in the press release. As the closure includes the San Gorgonio Wilderness, SGWA will not accept requests or issue any permits for Wilderness access until a solid re-opening date has been announced.