Big Horn Mine Trail
distance 3.9 miles
time 2 hours
elevation / gain 6460’ / 633’
notes $5 permit required to park in the lot or free with adventure pass, restrooms
warnings rattlesnakes, rockslide obstruction
One of my favorite hikes to escape the Los Angeles June Gloom is the Big Horn Mine trail in the Angeles National Forest. About an hour and a half drive from the city, this is a quick and easy popular hike in the San Gabriel Mountains where you’re high above the fog covered LA basin.
Start the trail from Vincent Gap Parking Area and follow the path beyond the gate to the left of the Baden-Powell trailhead and the Pacific Crest Trail junction. The dirt trail is well maintained and clearly marked, only a few minutes of hiking will lend to sweeping views of Mount Baldy (San Antonio Peak). On clear days you can see all the way to the ocean, but in the spring the valleys fill with thick fog and you’re able to look down at the clouds below.
There’s a major rock slide obstructing the trail about halfway into the hike. It does require a bit of scrambling and some of the rocks are unsteady, but it’s fairly easy to cross. Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes in this area! They tend to sun themselves in the rocks and brush off to the side, so try to stay close to the center of the trail.
The trails ends at the historical abandoned mine structure. This is a great place to bring a lunch and admire the view. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be an ore miner here more than a century ago?
The actual mine is a short climb up the back side of the structure. Its entrance is blocked off but you can squeeze through the gate. Bring a headlamp and spend some time exploring the abandoned tunnels. Warning, these tunnels (and structure) are no longer maintained and are subject to dangerous hazards. Enter at your own risk.
As always, please help keep the wilderness wild! This is a very popular destination and unfortunately there’s graffiti and trash all along the trail. Please remember to carry out what you carry in, respect the natural surroundings, and protect this beautiful environment for others to enjoy.