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On the banks of Deep Creek, San Bernardino Mountains

Pacific Crest Trail on the way to Deep Creek

Deep Creek/Bacon Flats Loop

    • Location: Cedar Glen, near Lake Arrowhead.  From San Bernardino, take highway 18 (Rim of the World Highway) north for 18 miles to highway 173.  Turn left and follow 173 for 3.3 miles   (there are several turns, so make sure you stay on the signed state route).  Turn right on Hooks Creek Road, and follow it for a total of three miles.  Again watch out for the turns.  After the last house, Hooks Creek becomes a single-lane road, but with traffic in both directions, so respect the 10-mile speed limit.  After crossing Hooks Creek, the road becomes dirt (but easily passable for all vehicles). Stay left at a junction and follow the road, which becomes a little rougher at this point, to the intersection with the Splinters Cabin Road.  Park by the gate.  A United States Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click here to purchase.  If the directions sound at all confusing, you can find the trail head with the GPS coordinates 34 16.296N, 117 08.168W.
    • Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Arrowhead Ranger Station
    • Distance: 7 miles
    • Elevation gain: 850 feet
    • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (distance, elevation gain)
    • Suggested time: 3.5 hours
    • Best season: March – June; October – November
    • USGS topo map: Lake Arrowhead
    • Recommended gear: sun hat; insect repellentsunblock
    • Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
    • More information: here; Everytrail report here
    • Rating: 8

This thoroughly enjoyable hike explores some of the remote terrain of the western San Bernardino Mountains near Lake Arrowhead. The scenery includes dramatic views of Deep Creek from the Pacific Crest Trail, geology, pines and oaks, and even a glimpse or two at Mt. Baldy if the weather is clear.

From the parking area, pass by the gate and follow the road down to Splinters Cabin. Here, look for the signs leading to the Pacific Crest Trail. (The trail has been re-routed several times due to fire damage). You follow it up the side of the canyon, and stay straight as the southbound trail crosses a footbridge.

The next two and a half miles treat you to some great scenery. There’s only a little bit of shade, but as you walk, you get a nice view of the creek as it makes its way down through the mountains. Deer Mountain is particularly prominent, rising above the east side of the creek. The trail clings to the side of the mountain, which might be a little unnerving for those with a fear of heights, but for the most part it’s in pretty good shape. There are a few spots where it’s a little treacherous and small kids might need some help.

The trail descends and meets a four-way intersection with a dirt road, where you may see some cars. Bear right on a spur signed for Deep Creek. Follow the trail to the shore of the creek, where you can sit and enjoy a very peaceful view. This is a good picnic spot.

If you like what you’ve seen so far, you can return by the same route, but to make it a loop, when you return to the junction, head uphill on an unsigned fire road (3N34D). This exposed ascent- 550 feet in less than a mile – is the only part of the hike that some people might find a little trying, but it does offer nice views. The trail levels out and follows the western side of the ridge. There are a few pines, although not enough to provide any real shade. You get a nice view of the high desert-like terrain, and perhaps might see Baldy poking up above the horizon in the distance.

Five miles from the start, you come to an area called Bacon Flats. Here, take a left and head south on a road called Squint Ranch on some maps. (This area is popular with off-road vehicles, so be careful as you walk). Stay left at the next two junctions, and finally make a descent back to the parking area.

Note: this hike should not be confused with the famous Deep Creek Hot Springs. While it’s the same Deep Creek, that hike is located farther north. It is hoped that a report on the hike to the Hot Springs will soon be posted on this site, but for now, this one can keep you busy.

Text and photography copyright 2012 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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