Johns Meadows

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View of the Santa Ana River Canyon on the way to Johns Meadows
Pinecones in the San Gorgonio Wilderness

Text and photography copyright 2010 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. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Johns Meadows

  • Location: San Gorgonio Wilderness.  From I-10 in Redlands, take the highway 38 exit (Orange Ave.) and drive northeast for 25 miles to Jenks Lake Road West.  Head right on Jenks Lake for 0.3 miles and then take a right on a dirt road (Forsee Ridge), and go half a mile to the trail head.  The dirt road is rough in spots but the trip is short enough so that most cars should handle it.  A free San Gorgonio wilderness permit and a National Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 for a day or $30 for the year) are required. Click here to purchase.
  • Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Mill Creek Ranger Station
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 800 feet
  • Suggested time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty rating: PG
  • Best season: May – November
  • USGS topo map: “Big Bear Lake”
  • Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
  • More information: trip report here; more photos here.
  • Rating: 8

This is a moderately challenging and very scenic hike that travels the north face of the San Bernardino Mountains ridge.  While snow in the winter can make it difficult (check conditions before going), with some preparation, the hike shouldn’t present too many problems.

From the parking lot, the trail climbs steeply (this early stretch will have hikers winded, especially those not used to high elevations) but it levels out pretty soon.  You enter the San Gorgonio Wilderness (permit required) and soon after, at 0.4 miles, look for a sign pointing to Johns Meadow to the right; the main trail continues to Anderson Peak.

On the trip to Johns Meadow, you work your way through an attractive forest of pines and alders, and every so often views of the Santa Ana River canyon open up.  There are a few ups and downs but the trail is mainly flat.  After about 2.5 miles, it begins to dip (you can take a quick side trip to a knoll that gives you nice views of the canyon) and switchback down to Forsee Creek.  The crossing can be difficult, depending on how strong the flow of the water is, so if it seems impassible this can be a good turn-around point.   It’s certainly an attractive place to stop and enjoy the scenery.

Across the creek, the trail continues and arrives at Johns Meadow, a little-used campsite.  On the other side of the site, an unmaintained trail rises up to the San Bernardino Ridge, joining the trail to San Bernardino Peak,  but for our purposes, Johns Meadow will be the turn-around point.  If you are worried about navigating this hike in the winter, make sure you get up here in October, especially since you can combine it with a trip to the famous Aspen Grove trail nearby.

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