The inland interior of Southern California is a goldmine for cool, outdoorsy locations that range from lava tubes, borax mines, and sand dunes. Josh and I try to frequent new locations and lately we can be found hiking around the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. This is our mountain range so we naturally gravitate to them. Rather than try to outline all of the new monument’s hiking locations, you can find them at Hikespeak.
I do want to add that the San Gabriel Mountains are completely gorgeous and feature rolling peaks and rugged canyons. The climate is Mediterranean with crooked pines and colorful patches of wildflowers.
Over the last 2 weekends, we have explored Big Horn Mine—an 1895 goldmine—which was about 5 miles, and hiked a little over 10 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).The Big Horn Mine trailhead is easily accessible and is located in the Vincent Gap parking area located off of Highway 2 past Wrightwood. You’ll need an Adventure Pass to park or camp anywhere in the San Bernardino National Forest area. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can hike from Vincent’s Gap to Mt. Baden Powell which is a 12.4 mile, that is pretty strenuous but beautiful. We have hiked up Mt. Baden Powell before, and decided that Big Horn Mine would suffice. Plus, I find mines to be a bit creepy so this hike seemed appropriate for the month of October.
Our hike up to the mine was not so bad. It is about a 5-mile round-way hike that is easy to moderate. However, there is not really much shade so either go early or bring a large brim hat and slather on the sunblock. The trail is also moderately busy with many hiking couples and families. Usually, I am turned off when I see more than 5 people on a trail (I’m selfish with my nature experiences) but the payoff is amazing.
Once we reached the mine, we decided to go inside. Please be aware that going inside the mine is illegal (psh) and you are entering at your own risk.
After your hike, you should definitely explore the mountain community of Wrightwood. There’s a ton of great restaurants and coffee shops. We decided to head over to Wrightwood Brewing Company. This brewery is rather new and they do not brew on location so I consider them a brew hub. This place also serves up sandwiches and sides. We decided on a fried food appetizer (typical) and had a few beers. I had a Berliner Weisse and a Porter. Both were good and I would visit this brewery again.
Our second weekend involved a small camping and hiking trip. Nothing too serious but nothing too boring. We camped near Big Rock Creek in Valyermo, California. Over the course of 9 hours we drank a few beers, smoked some Backwoods, and finished two massive meals of take-out Chinese food. Unfortunately, we did not have a bonfire due to California’s never-ending drought, and grassy areas turned hay. However, we decided it would be fun to lay out under the stars and slept outside for 2 hours before heading into our tent.
The next morning—October 10—we hiked about 10 miles of the PCT. October 10 also happens to be the 2-year anniversary or the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument designation, and it is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. I self-identify as a Chicana and Pan-Indigenous so this hike fell on an appropriate day.
We started our hike next to Inspiration Point. We would have hiked more than 10 miles but it was getting late and we did not have any breakfast. Josh and I tend to make bad choices that could lead to our demise but we’re still here… for now. I am hoping that we can do a 2-day hike where we camp in and hit about 20-30 miles.
As I mentioned, the San Gabriel Mountain range is ours. I spent a lot of my childhood sitting on my parent’s balcony and looking out towards the mountains. I believe people can imprint themselves on natural and urban spaces and places. For us, these mountains hold a special place in our hearts. If you decide to visit one of my top favorite locations, please do not litter or be a complete piece of shit. Happy hiking.