San Gorgonio with Dollar Lake Camp

We scheduled a San Gorgonio day hike from South Fork and during the preparations I learned that the lake levels for Dry and Dollar Lakes where as high as they hadn’t been in years. Since I had never seen Dollar Lake with water Srisuda and I decided to make it an overnight hike with a camp at Dollar Lake.

We all met at Jack and Dorie’s cabin on Saturday evening and carb-loaded with an excellent spaghetti dinner by Dorie. Sunday morning we got up at 5am, had a quick snack and some coffee and headed out for the trail head. We started hiking at 6:45.

This was my first time to the area since the big fire went through there a few years ago. A lot of the once beautiful tress are now only charred sticks and it’s sad to see especially if one knows the before. It could have been worse though and I was happy to find that there are still some nice trees around as one gets further up the trail.

The South Fork had great flow when we encountered it at the junction of the Dollar Lake and Dry Lake trails. We headed up towards Dollar Lake and quickly met a ranger who had spent the night on the peak and updated us on trail condition. He also made sure we had a valid camping permit. At the junction of the Dollar Lake trail Jack and John continued to Dollar Lake Saddle while Srisuda and I headed for the lake to setup our tent and light the load. After we were done we went to the saddle to meet Jack and John who had been patiently waiting for us. We all continued together up the peak.

There were only small snow fields still present and they were easy to cross in the warm conditions. In fact it was so much warmer than the forecast had let us to believe that we had to be careful with our water use since we did not prepare for a warm hike. We arrive on a crowded peak and John noted that we were by far the oldest people up there.

After a nice snack we headed back down the way we came up. John and Jack made a detour over Jepson Peak since John needed that one to complete the “San Bernardino 9 Peak Challenge”. He now has been on all n9! We all met up again at Dry Lake View where Srisuda and I were able to sneak in a short nap while waiting for the others. We continued together to the Dollar Lake trail junction where Jack and John continued to the trucks while we went to our camp.

We spent a couple of hours just hanging out at the lake in the evening sun. One could easily imagine we were in the Sierra. There is a spring at the west end of the lake that feeds the lake. It had very good flow and I filled up our empty water containers there. I opted to filter but think we could have used that water straight. Tired from along day, the first longer hike this year, we soon had dinner and retired into our tent.

Monday we awoke to a beautiful sun rise after a night of very mild temperatures (low: 50F). After breakfast we started hiking down. A long the way we stopped at the South Fork and topped up our water. It turned out that we were a bit dehydrated and we wanted to use the remainder of the hike to start re-hydrating by drinking liberally along the way. We got back to the car at 10am, changed clothes, and started our drive home. Getting hungry we stopped at In-n-Out for a burger.

Hike stats: Day 1 – 15.25 miles, 4800 ft gain; Day 2 – 5.6 miles, 200 ft gain

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