This is the first time I've travelled to California for work and had a day off to do something fun. So I decided to do some hiking in the San Bernardino National Forest. There are dozens of trails in the forest - miles and miles of climbing mountains, crossing creeks, and camping out. So it took some work to choose the trails that I would spend my day exploring.
My co-worker told me about a quick hike to Big Falls in the Barton Flats/Mill Creek area of the park. Big Falls is the highest falls in California, so I couldn't resist the 10 minutes it took to see it.
After making a stop at the Mill Creek ranger station to pick up a map and an Adventure Pass, I drove through the adorable mountain side town of Forest Falls to find the Big Falls trail head. I parked and walked along the creek for a short distance, crossed it, and soon found the falls. Very cool.
Then, I headed for the fantastic Vivian Creek trail. I walked a rough path for about half a mile along the south side of the creek until crossing over to the Vivian Creek trail head.
This trail is a steep hike up Mount San Borgonio - the highest peak in southern California - for the first mile. It is full of switch backs and the first of the mountain's spactacular views. It is also home to bears, lizards, and chipmunks among other creatures. I made a friend. Just a small, non-bear type friend, fortunately.
After that first steep mile, the trail weaves through the San Borgonio Wilderness, which is gorgeous. Over 7-8 more miles, the trail leads to two camp sites and ultimately the summit of the mountain at 11,500 feet.
Unfortunately, hiking the wildnerness area requires a permit that I did not have, so I couldn't explore it very far today. I loved it so much, though, that I desperately want to come back to hike to the summit and camp out for the night enjoying the sweeping vistas.
After heading back down the mountain - which is hard on the knees, I might add - I checked out the Momyer trail accessed back in the town of Forest Falls. I parked at a very full parking lot and made my way down to the creek again. I paused to sit on a rock in the middle of the creek to enjoy the small rapids. The water was cool and clear.
Momyer is much less intense than the Vivian Creek trail (at least in the short distance that I walked) but still beautiful. It would be a great walk with kids.
At this point, I decided that I was hot and tired and ready for more to eat than the snacks that I carried, so I headed back to my car and drove down out of the mountains again. I didn't touch my gas pedal for about 2 miles. Awesome.
I love love loved the hike on Vivian Creek. I hope I can return soon to do the whole trail. Next time, I'll apply in advance for the Wilderness Permit and plan an overnight all the way to the top!