Forum Replies Created
07/03/2021 at 2:50 pm in reply to: No Summit option for Fish Creek/ Aspen Grove Trailhead Permit #5446
My recollection from a number of years ago is that there are two separate types of camping permit. Most people stay in what are listed as campgrounds, such as Vivian or High Creek, and for which the normal permits are assigned. The summit area is not considered a campround. It is covered by what was, I think, called wilderness camping. There are separate permits and regulations for wilderness camping.
Since the Mill Creek Visitor Center is now open, I recommend that you call them for information on the relevant permit.06/10/2021 at 9:08 am in reply to: Current Conditions on Fish Creek Forest Road 1N05 Ok for Subaru Outback? #5363
We’ve been driving to Fish Creek and beyond for over two decades with a Prius and never had an issue. However negotiating frequent rocks and ruts requires care.
We also sometimes use our Outback but there’s nothing on the road to Fish Creek that requires all wheel drive or high clearance. The road has a very gradual change in elevation. All wheel drive helps when there are steep uphill sections on which front wheel drive vehicles can’t get sufficient traction, but there are none of these on the way to the Fish Creek Trailhead.
On May 12th there was some flow in High Creek where it crosses the trail but the flow was consideraly less than most years at the same time. There are a couple of areas 50 – 100 yards or so upstream from the trail crossing which are marshy and which tend to stay wet through most of the summer, well after the area around the trail crossing becomes dry.
The legal camping area is also well above the trail, a short distance from the creek.
If you find errors on the Tom Harrison maps please share them with Tom. He will try to verify and incorporate the changes in the next edition.
The only printed option to the Tom Harrison map is the USFS map/guide:
A digital verion of this map is also available:
When the Mill Creek Visitor Center reopens you’ll be able to purchase the printed USFS map there.
One additional option, covering only the eastern side of the mountain, is the National Geographic Pacific Crest Trail map guide 1011. It’s available as a printed booklet and digitally.
Measuring distances with good accuracy along a winding trail in the mountains requires using a surveyors wheel. GPS is unreliable due to blockage of the horizon and tree cover. Elevations measured with GPS are even less reliable except perhaps at the top of a ridge or mountain (with good views of the horizon in most directions).
Digital maps have no better accuracy than printed maps, are usually based on the USGS maps, and sometimes are extremely out of date. A $100 Garmin Topo digital trail map that I recently purchased to use with my Garmin GPS for a Grand Canyon backpack lacked the connecting trail to the campground that we were staying at on the Colorado River – a trail that had been in existence for at least a couple of decades. The trail, and the campground, did appear on most printed maps.
Last week I also hiked South Fork, which is slightly easier than Vivian due to less elevation gain. Until a major wildfire six years ago it was pleasantly shaded. It still has some early morning and late afternoon shade due to being on the north side.
It has a particularly nice area, South Fork Meadows, which nearly always has a good flow of water and an abundance of wildflowers. You can do a loop from the meadows, through Dollar Lake one way and Dry Lake the other. There are a few campgrounds, not all of which have water. This is a very dry year, so water sources higher up might be unreliable in another month or two (everywhere on the mountain).
Vivian is a slightly shorter drive which probably contributes to its popularity. After the fires this past summer it’s the only open trail that runs through unburned forest. It has some meadow areas along Vivian Creek and High Creek which are very nice in wetter years.
You can also go up via Fish Creek, on the eastern side of the mountain. This has the least elevation gain, but a long drive on a somewhat rutted dirt road. There are a pair of campsites along the way.
Here’s a link to pdf of the mileage sheet. It is indeed not attached to the pdf of the permit (I just went up there last week, and checked the printout of my permit).
The hike is a bit like Whitney, except for differences in altitude, heat and trail conditions. Vivian is on the south side of the mountain, in full sun for most of the day. It gets very hot. The summit is often warm and calm, but high, cold winds are not uncommon.
Most of the trail is in good condition except the initial climb from Mill Creek to near the Vivian Creek campground. This section is loose rock rubble and is steep.
Mike — Instead of backpacking, you might try one of the car camps along the 38 and do day hikes outside the wilderness, e.g., the Santa Ana River Trail.
If you’re set on backpacking, consider Round Valley or Tamarack Valley, both easy hikes from the Palm Springs Tramway. You’d need to get a camping permit, $5 per person, available by mail or in person. I’d recommend calling the Mt. San Jacinto State Wilderness, 951-659-2607, to find out about availability of permits and of water. We hiked on the west side of St. Jacinto on Monday and saw some flow in some, (but not all), of the streams. You cam purchase your tickets for the tramway on-line – it saves waiting and also gives you a definite ride time.07/21/2017 at 6:48 pm in reply to: The Lake Fire Closure has Expired, and there is no New Order #1792
Besides the explosion of frogs or toads, I wonder what other populations are unchecked. There were often ducks at dry lake, for which tadpoles or adult amphibians would likely be on the menu. A lot of things eat tadpoles, but most of them are aquatic, such a insect larvae and fish, and likely would have survived the fire.
Adult amphibians are probably preyed on by a variety of mammals – skunk, raccoon, weasel, etc. I wonder if the amphibian explosion is an indication that some of these have vanished from the area?07/21/2017 at 4:39 pm in reply to: The Lake Fire Closure has Expired, and there is no New Order #1790
That’s a tremendous explosion of,I think,toads. We’ve often seen a few along the banks of the lake but never very many. Guess that whatever kept their numbers down must have perished. Birds?
Chris — Great photos. Thanks for posting them. Are any stands of the large trees along the lower part of the trail still alive? Are there places where the large trees are totally gone, leaving holes in the ground where the roots had been?
As of a week ago, there were scattered patches of snow near the summit but I didn’t see any at the summit camping area itself. I still saw some patches from a distance two days ago. With a bit of hiking you might be able to find enough snow to melt for water, but it’s likely to have a lot of grit mixed in.
Winds at the summit are often very strong throughout the night, making tents flap and sleeping difficult. Camping lower, with trees for shade, much less wind, and nearby water would be far more enjoyable.