The mile or so of the Vivian Creek trail after you cross the creek and before you turn north into the hanging valley where vivian creek camp is located is more severe than any mile of the san bernardino peak trail. that said, the san bernardino peak trail starts you right out; there’s no warm up walk like the one you get going up mill creek. You’ll climb steadily for 2000 feet or so, then you get a nice mile-long stroll on what will seem like nearly flat ground through manzanita flats, which is a super-beautiful are of open manzanita, chinquapin and buckthorn and lots of really cool trees, including a number of spectacular flag trees. you’ll probably be there in early evening, just as the light gets really amazing. bring your camera!
beyond the wheelbarrow junction above columbine camp, you climb slowly to limber pine bench. From limber pine it’s another steady climb, never steep, to the washington monument, at which point you’re on the divide. as far as elevation gain over distance, the first couple miles are like the first couple miles of the forsee creek trail. i’m having trouble thinking of comparable sections of trail on Vivian. Beyond the wheelbarrow, i feel like the slope is similar to the vivian creek trail beyond high creek…hard to say.
Your first day will be a breeze. day two, assuming you summit all the peaks will be a pretty big day, comparable to gorgonio in a day, effort-wise. By the third day, you’ll be ready for a big meal at El Mexicano on your way home. 🙂
Starting on a Thursday, you’ll see almost nobody for the first two days. You’ll see the throngs heading up gorgonio on saturday, but you’ll be going the other direction. A good strategy.