The Longest Hike of My Life: San Bernardino Peak (Peak 4)

Hike Reports, LA / SoCal Trails / Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

I just have to start by saying this was my most miserable hike ever, but I’m so glad I got to check it off my list.  On Sunday [5.31.15] I conquered San Bernardino Peak.

It sucks going until a day hike knowing it’s going to be stupid long to start with… 16 miles to be exact, but when the trail ends up even longer than expected, it makes the experience so much less enjoyable.  My app tracker (mapmyrun) measured the entire hike to be 19 miles!  The whole time I kept wondering are we there yet are we there yet?!

This was peak four of the Socal Six pack of peaks.  We met up at 6 am, left around 6:30 am, made a breakfast stop, picked up the free day permit at the Mill Creek Ranger Station at the bottom of the mountain, and got the the parking lot at 8:45 am (parking is free) & couldn’t find the right trail, and started by 9 am.  The trail head was a bit misleading; there was an obvious trail head that went to a gated-off dead end fenced off section, then there was a trail to the left of that.  Neither one is right.  The trail head is narrow and on the right side facing the blocked off road, so it’s just to the left of the bulletin boards.  You will know when you are on it.

The trail picks up right away with a gradual ascent.  I’ve never felt so out of shape in my life!   We must have stopped every 15 mins or so for a quick break.  We did run into a ranger checking for permits a few miles in, so don’t forget to get that (walk-in permits are available for day hikers)!  This part felt never ending…

We arrived at the “half-way” point around 11:30 am which was roughly 5-6 miles.  This is the junction for Limber Pine, John’s Meadow, and Columbine.  Continue on the Limber Pine trail to the San Bernardino Peak.  This is where the trail really starts to incline since you are actually hiking the big mountain straight in front of you now.  Let me just say… THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.  I hate quitting a hike part way through… but I actually wanted to give up by this point.  Good thing Duy pushed us through, cause Eric and I were lagging behind.

Around 2 pm, just when you think you are almost up… you come across this bench overlook area (it’s kind of hidden at the end of a switchback) that had the most amazing almost 360 views of the mountains!  It was really a sight for sore eyes… this is where we took our lunch break.  I think I even enjoyed this view more than the peak.  We stayed here for about half hour or so before finishing the trail.  The last part of the trail was not too long, but the ascent was a pain.

We arrived at the top at 20 minutes later, just before 3 pm… finally!  It was quite crowded when we got up there but the weather was nice.  You can see mountainous views in front of you when you get up, and Big Bear Lake behind you.  The lake was actually a nice surprise… the picture doesn’t do it justice.  You can also see it as you climb higher on the switchbacks coming up.  Needless to say, we took a nap at the top at headed down around 3:50 pm.

Going down was literally never ending.  We took just a few breaks on the way down and got to the bottom around 7:30 pm… much later than anticipated.  The trail itself is very well-maintained — there is no getting lost.  Most of the trail is narrow, and shaded during the first half while you are still in the wilderness.  It was pretty sunny going up the mountain the second half.  Overall, I am just glad I conquered this and can check it off of my SoCal Six Pack of Peaks list.  I don’t think I’ve ever spent the entire day from the crack of dawn till nightfall on a hiking journey.  What I learned from this hike is attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.

We got back around 9 pm and went straight for KBBQ. 😀

Hike summary:

⊗ Trail:  San Bernardino Peak
⊗ Distance:  18.7 miles
⊗ Time:  10 hrs 34 mins (including nap at top, so about 9 hr 45 mins w/o break at peak)
⊗ Elevation Gain:  4833 ft (max: 10,649 ft)
⊗ Difficulty Level: long & strenuous… prepare yourself physically & mentally.

I won’t be coming back.  Ever.

& there was recently a forest fire in San Bernardino mountains last Wednesday that was still running through the weekend which is such a shame.  I’m a sucker for views and nature and it really breaks my heart to hear mother nature is burning down.

Never stop exploring ♥

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