Day Hike Permits Reinstated

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    • #4605

      The following is a press release from the US Forest Service:, Zach Behrens, Public Affairs Officer

      Permit requirements to be reinstated for three wilderness areas

      Day-use permits will again be required for the San Gorgonio, San Jacinto and Cucamonga wilderness areas

      SAN BERNARDINO, Calif – As hiking some of Southern California’s tallest peaks and rugged, beautiful wilderness areas become increasingly more popular and crowded, Forest Service officials are reinstating a day-use permit system for entering three wilderness areas on the San Bernardino National Forest starting September 1. Permits for overnight stays remain in effect.

      The move back to permits will help realign management of the areas with mandates of the Wilderness Act of 1964.

      “A key characteristic of wilderness is experiencing solitude,” said Jody Noiron, Forest Supervisor. “We have lost that on many of our wilderness trails and sorely need a place for it in busy metropolitan Southern California.”

      Reinstating permits will also help relieve overcrowding at trailhead parking lots, some which are at capacity by the early morning hours. Furthermore, the frequency of damage to vegetation by the widening and degradation of trails as hikers pass each other will be reduced.

      Hikers will need a free day-use permit for entering San Gorgonio Wilderness*, San Jacinto and Cucamonga wilderness areas within the San Bernardino National Forest. The requirement is not in effect for wilderness areas that cross into another unit or agency’s jurisdiction.

      Up to 144 day hikers will be allowed at each trailhead in the San Gorgonio and Cucamonga wilderness areas each day, and there will be a limit of 30 permits available for entry into the San Jacinto Wilderness from the Devils Slide Trailhead on Saturday and Sundays from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend. Permits for summer weekdays/off season days at that trailhead and for other trailheads in the San Jacinto Wilderness will be required, but there is no quota (Visitors with a permit for the San Jacinto State Wilderness area will be able to use that permit for entry).

      Group sizes for all wilderness areas will be capped at 12 people.

      Visitors can obtain free permits up to 90 days in advance and walk-up permits may also be available for visitors attempting a last-minute plan when there is ranger availability. The permits are available through local ranger stations by phone or email. Permits for the San Gorgonio Wilderness association are also available online through the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association, a Forest Service partner. Contact details are below:

      Cucamonga Wilderness: Contact the Lytle Creek Ranger Station at (909) 382-2851
      San Gorgonio Wilderness: Contact the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association/Mill Creek Ranger Station at (909) 382-2882 or reserve by email through
      San Jacinto Wilderness: Contact the San Jacinto Ranger Station at (909) 382-2921.
      (Due to virtual services, visitors should leave a message if the call goes to voicemail)

      *The San Gorgonio Wilderness is currently closed due to the Apple Fire. A forest order closing the wilderness is in effect through September 1. Depending on conditions, the closure may be modified, lifted early or extended. Forest officials will announce by press release and social media changes to the status of the wilderness as it relates to the fire.

    • #4606

      144 hikers per trailhead per day???!!! Holy crap, that sounds like a lot! I wonder if there’s any good data on recent trail usage.

    • #4608
      chris in redlands

      With up to 12 people per permit, that means as few as 12 permits might be issued per trail per day.

      I’m curious what the totals were before the day hike permit requirement went away…I’ve been on each of the trails on days when all of the permits for them were issued, and I’m pretty sure they used to issue more permits for south fork and vivian than, say, momyer or forsee. Can’t be sure tho.

      When you consider that on any given day probably at least a quarter of the people who have permits never show up at all and that the permits that actually get used often probably indicate more hikers than actually show at the trailhead, 144 seems a pretty reasonable number.

      Now if 144 people all showed up at the san bernardino peak trail or foresee creek trail parking lot, each in their own car, all at once…that would be a sight! ha!

    • #4609

      Puzzling.  The stated cap is on people for the San Gorgonio and Cucamonga trailheads, but permits for the Devil’s Slide trailhead.  With up to 12 people per permit, there can be quite a difference.  If crowding and protection of the environment are the issue, caps on people seem appropriate, caps on permits do not.

      Also, 30 permits for the Devil’s Slide Trail on weekends does not seem like many, given that people can be fanning out in several directions at Saddle Junction, and many of the permits can be for one, two, or three hikers.

      Does not affect me, because I am retired and hike on week days.  I am conflicted about it, as I am sure many people are.  People who must hike on weekends have my deepest sympathy, but at the same time I recognize that there must be some limits.

    • #4648
      Ben Crowell

      If they’ve got to go back to requiring permits for Vivian Creek, it’s great that it will now be a cap on people rather than groups. That makes a lot more sense. Also sounds good that they’re doing it by phone rather than the old mail/fax system, which was inconvenient and in my experience very unreliable.

      Would probably make more sense if they would just focus on high-impact times and trails, e.g., Vivian Creek, summer, weekends. I often go running on Fridays from Vivian, South Fork, or Angelus Oaks, and there are few cars in the parking lot, so having to apply for a permit seems kind of like a pointless exercise.

    • #4685
      Ben Parker

      Now that the main part of the wilderness has been reopened, does anyone know if any “day-of-use” permits for day hikers will be available on the shelf outside the (closed) Mill Creek Ranger Station or will all day hike permits be handled via email, mail, and FAX? Thanks!

    • #4686
      Ben Crowell

      @Ben Parker: The announcement says, “walk-up permits may also be available for visitors attempting a last-minute plan when there is ranger availability.” So AFAICT the answer is no, because there is no “ranger availability” during covid. They’re trying to enforce quotas, which they can’t do if the permits are self-issued.

      • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by Ben Crowell.
    • #4689
      Ben Parker

      Good point. Since they are setting the limits based on the number of people per day rather than the number of permits, “self-serve” wouldn’t work. Thanks.

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