To get to the South Fork Trailhead, going from Orange County, take the 91 freeway east towards Riverside. Stay on the 91 freeway which eventually becomes the 215 freeway. The 215 freeway eventually intersects with Interstate 10. At the 215 freeway and Interstate 10 interchange, take Interstate 10 going East toward Palm Springs. Exit from Interstate 10 on University which is in the City of Redlands. Make a left and follow University (You will pass through Redlands University) until you meet Highway 38. Take a right on Highway 38, going toward the San Bernardino Mountains. In several miles you will pass the Mill Creek Ranger Station (Where you obtain the additional wilderness permit if you have not gotten it early), continue on up into the San Bernardino National Forest. Highway 38 will take you to the trailhead. Exit highway 38 onto Jenks Lake Road (This road is located before Barton Flats). Take Jenks lake road a couple of miles and the trailhead is on your left hand side. The South Fork Trailhead is a large parking lot with a big sign indicating the South Fork Trailhead. (A Forest Adventure Pass is needed as well as a free Wilderness Permit for access to the San Gorgonio Wilderness).
Description of Hike: To day hike or overnight backpack in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, you must have an additional wilderness permit (The Permit is Free), in addition to the Forest Adventure Pass. You can Follow this link for the permit for your hike to Dry Lake. The link will direct you to the wilderness permit application for the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association. You can obtain the additional wilderness permit early from the Mill Creek Ranger Station which is the easiest way, or you will have to stop at the Mill Creek Ranger Station before you go hiking on the hiking trail to Dry Lake. Each hiking trail in the San Gorgonio Wilderness has a set quota for the number of hikers allowed on each trail and once the daily quota is reached they don't issue more wilderness permits for the trail. That is why Ashley and I recommend you get your free wilderness permit early. You can obtain a permit 90 days before your hike.
San Gorgonio Wilderness Association's website to find current trail conditions and weather forecasts. The San Gorgonio Wilderness Association's website is also a great tool to find out about water flow at the various springs in the San Gorgonio Wilderness for filtering while back country camping and/or day hiking.
For pictures of what Dry Lake looks like when it is full, click Here.
Rating: Elevation Gain: 2,201 ft. (Strenuous), Distance: 14 Miles Roundtrip (Strenuous).
Time to Complete Hike: 7 - 8 hours.