View from the Big Horn Mine Trail

Big Horn Mine


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  • Location: Vincent Gap, Highway 2 in the Angeles National Forest near Big Pines. From Highway 138, take highway 2 for 15 miles to Vincent Gap. Park in the large lot on the left. When all of Highway 2 is open, Vincent Gap can also be reached with a 53 mile drive from La Canada. A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 per year) is required. Click here to purchase.
  • Agency: Angeles National Forest, Mojave and Santa Clara Rivers Ranger District; Big Pines Visitor Center: 760-249-3504
  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 550 feet
  • Suggested time: 2.5 hours
  • Difficulty rating: PG
  • Best season: April-November
  • Dogs: Allowed (Leashes recommended while near mine shafts; some rocky terrain may be rough on their paws)
  • Cell phone reception: None (nearest reliable cell phone reception is in Wrightwood, about 10 miles east)
  • Water: There are a few small streams that usually flow year round, although if you are doing this trip as a day hike as most people do, it’s easiest just to bring your own water
  • Restrooms: Vault toilets at the trail head
  • Camping/backpacking: The flat area below the right turn to the mine is a possible camping spot
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
  • More information: Trip descriptions here, here, here, here and here; aerial video of the mine and surrounding area here; article about the history of the mine here; Yelp page here
  • Rating: 7

Clinging to the south slopes of Mt. Baden-Powell, high above the east fork of the San Gabriel River, the remains of Big Horn Mine (built either 1894 or 1895 – sources vary – and abandoned in 1936) are one of the most popular hiking destinations in the eastern San Gabriel Mountains. The hike offers not only a chance to explore some local history but outstanding views of Mt. Baldy, Iron Mountain, Pine Mountain and the remote canyons below them. The only drawback is the graffiti, which has increased in recent years.

Begin by heading south on the wide trail starting beyond the metal gate (as opposed to the Pacific Crest Trail, which begins its climb to Mt. Baden-Powell.) You descend gradually through the pines to a junction with the Mine Gulch Trail. Stay right and continue south, passing under black oaks, pines and maples before entering an exposed area. The trail winds tightly along the steep slope, somewhat washed out in spots.

At about 1.2 miles from the start, you pass an abandoned mine shaft. Soon after the trail climbs and makes a sharp right turn and before long the mine comes into view. Just before the mine, negotiate a somewhat tricky stretch of washed out trail (expect to use your hands as well as your feet). The metal and concrete superstructure of the mine is instantly recognizable to anyone who has seen pictures online or in print. The framework makes for a visually interesting border for photos of the wide panorama to the south. The extensive network of mine shafts beyond it is reportedly in good shape – but exploring it is nevertheless highly risky, which is why many people simply end their hikes here.

Vincent Gap trail head, Angeles National Forest
View from the Vincent Gap trail head
Big Horn Mine Trail, Angeles National Forest
Following the trail along the eastern face of Mt. Baden-Powell
Big Horn Mine trail, Angeles National Forest
Maple tree on the Big Horn Mine Trail
California king snake on the Big Horn Mine Trail, Angeles Forest
California kingsnake on the Big Horn Mine Trail
Big Horn Mine Trail
Approaching a washed out section of the trail
Big Horn Mine trail, Angeles National Forest
Mine shaft en route to Big Horn Mine
Big Horn Mine, Angeles National Forest
First view of Big Horn Mine
Big Horn Mine Trail, Angeles National Forest
Looking south from the mine

Text and photography copyright 2018 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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2 thoughts on “Big Horn Mine

  1. Great site! This hike isn’t in the area closed by the station fire? I’m having trouble figuring out what hikes are closed. Thanks!

    1. Hi Stephanie, thanks for reading. There were recent postings about this hike on http://www.localhikes.com (I myself did the hike last May), so apparently the Vincent Gap area is still accessible from the east. You might want to check with Caltrans or the National Forest Service just to make sure though. Have a great 4th.

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