Santa Ana River Trail: Glass Road to San Gorgonio Campground

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Sugarloaf from the Santa Ana River Trail

Woodlands on the Santa Ana River Trail

Santa Ana River Trail: Glass Road to San Gorgonio Campground

  • Location: San Gorgonio Wilderness east of Angelus Oaks.  From I-10 in Redlands, take the exit for highway 38 and drive northeast for 26.5 miles.  Turn left on Glass Road and drive 2.1 miles to the Santa Ana River Trailhead.  Park in a small turnout on the left side of the road.  A National Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 for a day or $30 for the year) is required to park here.  Click here to purchase.
  • Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Mill Creek Ranger Station
  • Distance: 8.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
  • Suggested time: 4 hours
  • Difficulty rating: PG-13 (Distance, altitude)
  • Best season: April – November
  • USGS topo maps:  Big Bear Lake
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles
  • More information: Forest service page here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 7

It may seem hard to believe that the Santa Ana River, visible to many Southern California residents as nothing more than a cement channel that flows through Orange and Riverside Counties, starts in the depths of the San Gorgonio Wilderness.  Most people are familiar with the bike path portion of the Santa Ana River Trail, but the 28-mile stretch in the San Bernardino National Forest is not as well known.  The route here starts from Glass Road near Angelus Oaks and arrives at the San Gorgonio Campground.

From the parking area, cross Glass Road and begin hiking east on the trail. This section of the trail features both attractive stretches underneath pines and oaks and nice views of the canyon and the peaks–notably Sugarloaf–towering above. There are a few places where the trail clings to the side of the mountain and drops off sharply on the side, which will make you thankful for your poles.

After 3.2 miles of winding in and out of the canyons on the south side of the gorge, you arrive at an intersection.  Take a hard right onto a trail signed for the San Gorgonio and Barton Flats Campground.  The ascent becomes a little steeper here, reaching another junction in half a mile. Take a hairpin turn to the left, and walk the last half mile to the campground. This may seem like somewhat of an anti-climax, but like the Ernie Maxwell Trail in Idyllwild, this section of the Santa River Trail is more about the journey than the destination.

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

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3 thoughts on “Santa Ana River Trail: Glass Road to San Gorgonio Campground

    • Hi Todd, thanks for reading, liked your pix. I did write up the aspens as part of the trip to nearby Fish Creek Meadows, a nice four mile round trip hike, here.

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