MILL CREEK AND BARTON FLATS VISITOR CENTERS ARE NOW OPEN.

PURCHASE MAPS, ADVENTURE PASSES AND MERCHANDISE AT EACH LOCATION. SEE WILDERNESS PERMITS FOR PERMIT INFORMATION. HOURS MILL CREEK 9 – 4:30 AND BARTON FLATS 9 – 4:30.

July 3 Ranger Talk – Bears, Bears, Bears

Bear and cubs

Ranger Talks!

Ranger Talks are back! Every Saturday night, 7:30 to 8:30 pm at the Greyback Amphitheater, about 1.5 miles east of the Barton Flats Visitor Center on Hwy 38. Programs are free with hot chocolate and coffee (your generous donations are welcome and appreciated), plus candy and snacks available for purchase. Bring warm clothing. You can find the schedule on our Ranger Talks page.

May Newsletter

We’re back! Well pretty much. Read all about it in the May newsletter. Our featured volunteer this time is Rosy Nunez.

A message from our president…

Bettye Miller, the President of the SGWA Board of Directors, has this message about our recent technical difficulties.

“SGWA’s new online permit system is speeding up the process of requesting wilderness permits and generally has worked well, although not without some glitches. We are working to fix those. In April we issued 439 day and overnight permits, and we’ve been flooded with requests since Vivian Creek Trail opened. Fewer than 3% of permit requests have been unsuccessful, which we know is frustrating if you’re one of those people. We are tweaking our programming to better handle the large number of requests, which has created unexpected issues with emailing approved permits. Some permits are landing in spam folders, so please check there. If things go amiss, please contact us at contact@sgwa.org.”

RECREATION Sites in Forest Falls to reopen

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif—Officials with San Bernardino National Forest will reopen recreation sites in Forest Falls, Calif., on Saturday, April 24. The sites include the Falls Picnic Area, Big Falls Trail, and Vivian Creek Trail,

Staff and volunteers from the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association, a Forest Service partner, have been able to evaluate trails and prepare facilities for reopening after closing last year for the El Dorado Fire, which continued to show smoke through snow in the winter. Some other trails near the El Dorado Fire footprint reopened on April 10

Important details about trails are below.

Vivian Creek Trail (1E08)

A portion of the Vivian Creek Trail into the San Gorgonio Wilderness of Sand to Snow National Monument was burned over during the Apple Fire, which was ignited a month before the El Dorado Fire. Hikers should be aware of potential hazards, such as falling trees and limbs and loose rocks. 

A free wilderness permit is required for day hikes and overnight trips. It can be obtained through the San Gorgonio Wilderenss Association on their website. An Adventure Pass is required for vehicles parked in the parking lot.

Big Falls Trail (1E13)

The trail is open to the upper waterfall viewing platform. No permit is required, but an Adventure Pass is required for vehicles parked in the parking lot.

The area beyond the platform is closed for safety. Rocks below the waterfall are extremely slippery, so much that one has been nicknamed “blood rock” by locals. Many visitors who have ventured past the platform have slipped into the river, prompting search and rescue operations. 

Flash flooding warning

Both of these trails cross Mill Creek, which is fairly dry in the spring and summer months. Visitors should be aware of flash floods in the stream bed caused by rain storms miles away in the wilderness. This means it can happen under sunny skies.

Because flash floods can happen without notice, react quickly by heading for higher ground immediately. Stay as high as you can and be patient while waters recede. Do not attempt to cross the water; it takes very little to knock you off your feet.

Future reopenings

Staff and the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association will work to reopen the Momyer Trailhead, with access to Dollar Lake Saddle via the Falls Creek Trail. Stay tuned for a reopening date.

Thurman Flats Picnic Area and general areas within Mill Creek off Highway 38 will remain closed as it is directly in the path of mudslides from the El Dorado Fire burn scar. The San Bernardino Peak and Foresee Creek trailheads will also remain closed at this time because they are within the El Dorado Fire burn scar.

###

Vivian Creek Trail Reopens Saturday 4/24/21

Permits for Saturday will be available after 10 AM on Friday 4/23.

Use our new online reservations under Wilderness Permits. At the bottom of the page, under the map, is a button for Make a Reservation . A new page will open. Complete the reservation information, enter “submit”, and your permit will come immediately to your email. You can use your cell phone or computer, very handy if you are on your way and forgot to get a permit. We are still occasionally seeing a glitch that looks like it hasn’t completed the process, but it always sends the permit anyway. Check your mail before trying again.

The Mill Creek Ranger station remains closed due to the Covid restrictions.

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