Condition report- South Fork Trail

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    • #2777

      Hi all,

      Just an FYI-  I went up to hike to Horse Meadows on the South Fork Trail off Jenks Lake Rd with the kids and dogs to play in some snow.

      About 1/4-1/2 mile from the trailhead (where the trail turns left across the river) it was completely washed out.   Someone on the trail said you could continue up that drainage, but because I had the kids and dogs, we turned back.  If I was by myself, I probably would have walked the drainage as there was what looked like a trail on either side.

      It did look like you could make it across on some logs if you were careful, or perhaps go up the drainage a bit to find a place to cross and come back to the main trail.

      Also there were a couple downed trees across the trail, but were easily to climb over.

      • This topic was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by MikeH.
    • #2780

      Thank you Mike H for the updated trail conditions.

      SGWA will start cleaning up damaged trail conditions after the trails thaw out.

      It is always smart to turn around when you don’t feel comfortable with the trail status. Hiking when trails are covered with snow is very difficult when not equipped. Some areas have known winter routes that require the right equipment like a good topo map, compass or gps and the proper snow gear. If there is a lot of snow covering a trail, it can be difficult to fallow unless others have made footprints.  But those footprint paths can be dangerous becoming very icy and slippery after overnight freezing temperatures.

      SGWA volunteer

    • #2781

      Thanks for the reply, Shawn.  Seeing the conditions of the trail this early in the season/ preseason really makes you appreciate all the work the trail crew does to clean it up.

      I did neglect to post that the trail that close to the trailhead was essentially snow free and appeared to be all the way around the corner.

    • #2782
      chris in redlands

      The trail is washed out in two distinct places at the first bend in at the 1/4 mile mark on the south fork trail. Casual hikers will find it completely impassible, and we could not find a safe way to continue on the trail this weekend, so we climbed the ridge between the two major wash-outs to the old road (which is also badly washed out) that goes up to poopout hill which we took to where the trail crosses the road above horse meadow.

      I will be very curious to see how the trail is repaired. At the hairpin bend at 1/4 mile, there are two drainages which each usually have a small stream flowing over the trail. Each of those streams has gouged a chasm where the trail used to be. the first cut probably 5 or 6 feet down, leaving a pretty good mess, but there are a couple ways to get around it reasonably safely. The second one cut more like 12 or 15 feet into the valley, leaving steep dirt walls on either side and completely obliterating about thirty feet of the trail.

      Looking north at the first major wash-out from the top of what used to be the hairpin turn:

      First major washout

      I didn’t get a great photo of the second, much large washout. A photo from a vantage I could access wouldn’t have shown the extent of the damage anyway. It’s pretty amazing. It also is super-unstable, and I’d imagine there’s years worth of additional erosion before either drainage is able to support a trail near where the trail used to be.

    • #2783
      chris in redlands

      If you make it past the washout, it’s a winter up there like it hasn’t been in a decade or more. We walked as far as Dry Lake before putting on our snowshoes. Right at the bend above dry lake where the trail leaves the valley and heads toward mineshaft saddle, an avalanche that came off the chute west of San Gorgonio’s north ridge left giant piles of snow and some huge downed trees. Here’s Joe standing under some at the bottom of the avalanche for scale:

      Bottom of the avalanche

      Some partially toppled trees in the avalanche path:

      Trees in the avalanche path

      We climbed Lake Peak, which went in snowshoes on a few inches of powder over hard frozen snow and some icy spots.

      Near the summit of Lake Peak

      Then climbed the north ridge of gorgonio from mineshaft saddle, which went with snowshoes to around 10,500 ft, where we switched to crampons. The powder right above the saddle got pretty deep at times. From about 10,500 to the summit it was all hard-frozen snow and ice.

      North Ridge of Gorgonio at around 11,000 ft

      And along the summit ridge:

      San G Summit

      It was snowing as we walked out. A great winter up there!


      • #2816
        Neil C

        Hi Chris,

        Roughly how long did it take you to reach the summit? Thinking doing it this weekend with a splitboard and skins versus snowshoes.



      • #2817
        chris in redlands

        Hey Neil,

        Looking back at the times on my photos, we took 6 hours to get from the trailhead to mineshaft saddle and another two and a half hours to get to the summit from there. Lake Peak was a 2-hour detour to the summit and back from the saddle, but I assume you’d skip that.

        It’s worth noting two things; 1. we were really taking our time, and 2. my buddy had come into town the night before for this outing, so of course we had a big feast, stayed up too late, and drank too much, so we started the day out pretty puny. You’ll be able to get up there faster than we did.

        Not an alpine skier or snowboarder, but I would ask around about conditions…they were terrible the weekend I was up there…ice and really hard snow with just areas of powder. Can’t imagine they’d be better now than then. We saw a couple of skiers who had come up Vivian at the summit who acknowledged they were pretty much just taking their skis for a walk. But still, that’s a pretty good day! Enjoy!



      • #2819

        @Neil – I was up there last Sunday – Monday. Conditions went very quickly from ice and hard snow to slush by about 10 am at elevations below 9000 feet or so.

        We only went as far as Dry lake, so conditions might have less variation throughout the day at higher elevations and if the weather cools off.

      • #2820
        Mark J

        Hey Neil,

        I’m heading up with my split and gear in the morning (Saturday). Maybe we could link up or at least I can give you some beta if you plan to go on Sunday. Cheers

    • #2784

      Perhaps they can improve or re-route the trail where it winds around that gully.  Sometimes there are five or ten yards there which are not comfortable without microspikes, when they aren’t otherwise necessary on that part of the trail.  I have sometimes considered going straight up to avoid it, though I have never tried it.

    • #2785

      Chris in Redlands: xlnt report and pics–thank you and congrats (ha, that avatar image)!

    • #2790

      If anyone is heading up there this week, I’d love to hear a report after the latest snowfall.

      I’m heading up to at least Dry Lake on Sunday and would love to know if a trail has been broken so I don’t have to carry snowshoes 🙂

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