Trail Name: Lost Creek
Forest Service Designation: 1E09
Total Distance: 5.75 miles one way
Overview: rarely used trail that takes you up into the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area.
Activities: Hiking and Horses. Bikes are not permitted in Wilderness Areas.
Trail Type: 100% singletrack.
Description: The Lost Creek Trail starts right at Highway 38 and heads straight uphill for almost 2,000 feet. Along this seldom used trail you will have tremendous views of Sugarloaf Mountain and Heart Bar Peak. Towards the top you’ll walk through Grinnell Ridge Camp and then drop into the wonderful South Fork Meadows area. Take a break and head back down. This is a wilderness area, and you will need a free permit. Contact the SBNFA Discovery Center for details.
Possible Loops / Variations: Once at the top, consider hiking down the South Fork Trail and end up near Jenks Lake. If you do this, make sure you have a ride back to your original trailhead.
Trailhead and Parking: Park in the large lot directly across the highway from the South Fork Campground. Cross over to the South Fork Campground and look for the trail on the right hand side heading up the hillside.
Trail Etiquette: Always be courteous to other trail users. All users yield to equestrians, with cyclists also yielding to hikers. Travel only at safe speeds, and stay on designated trails to protect our fragile mountain environment.
For Your Safety: Notify someone of your planned route and estimated time of return. Outdoor activities can be dangerous; use caution at all times and be prepared with water, food, and adequate equipment and knowledge. The Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation provides this description as a courtesy, and does not guarantee the accuracy of the information. You accept all responsibility for your outdoor activities.
A Local’s Review of the Lost Creek Trail:
In May my friend Dan and I hiked the Lost Creek Trail in the San Bernardino National Forest and San Gorgonio Wilderness. This is an excellent hike that heads towards Mount San Gorgonio that few people travel; even though it was a Sunday, we saw no people on the Lost Creek Trail. Because the trail goes into the wilderness, we did register for a wilderness permit before hiking, which can be acquired from the Mill Creek, Big Bear or Barton Flats Ranger Stations (Barton Flats station is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day). The hike was beautiful and the weather this time of year is perfect.
To start the trail we parked at the Santa Ana River Trailhead directly across from the South Fork Campground on Highway 38. From there we followed a sign for the Lost Creek Trail which guided us east along the creek, under the highway, and then up to the entrance of the South Fork Campground. The trail crossed the campground road and is signed as Santa Ana River Trail and Lost Creek Trail. The trail is well marked and throughout our hike we found numerous signs marking the path.
It starts out as narrow switch backs with great views of Sugarloaf Mountain that lead to an old road with a more arid climate. In this section of the trail we saw lots of pretty wild flowers and lizards. We also had some great overlooks throughout this section. After a while the trail narrows to traverse a steep slope with a great view of the mountains and valleys to the west including the Santa Ana River Valley. This section of trail is cooler, with more coniferous trees, birds and exposed rocks. Although the trail is cut on a steep mountain side, it was in great condition with almost no erosion.
As we continued to climb in elevation, we passed a large campground for backpackers, called Grinnell Camp that had great views of Charleston, Jepson and San Gorgonio Peaks. Just before the end of the trail we crossed over a mossy creek that was the first water source since we left the parking lot. When we finally reached the South Fork Trail we had been hiking for about four hours, with time for snacks and photography. From there we hiked down the South Fork Trail to the South Fork trail head which took us about one hour. The hike is full of changing habitat and climate which gave us excellent changing views and the opportunity to see different kinds of plants and wildlife. – Christi Kruse