Backcountry Camping In Socal (w/ Fire)

8:05 p.m. on May 8, 2013 (EDT)
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Hey I'm new to the forums, but I'd really like to get into some back country this summer. Too much time in front of screens and being connected, need to break free. 

Anybody know of any good locations where you hike in, set up camp, and sit around a fire in Socal. Most of my camping here in Socal has involved too many RVs and not enough solitude. 

8:26 p.m. on May 8, 2013 (EDT)
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This being Fire Season in California generally, and already having had several significant fires in the past couple of weeks (huge one near Banning extending up into the San Jacinto mountains), I suspect you will encounter "NO FIRES OR OPEN FLAMES!" restrictions throughout California and especially Southern California, including State and National Parks and National Forests in their campgrounds and in the backcountry. You can still find many places to hike in and camp, but using a backpacking stove for cooking and battery-operated lights for lighting. Even so, be alert for lightning-produced fires, even in the absence of rain storms. And, of course, fires from the ignorant, the careless, and the scoff-laws.

Here is a link to the current fire situation.

2:58 p.m. on May 9, 2013 (EDT)
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North on Santa Anita east of Pasadena on I-210 go to road end and the parking lot.  Drop in to visit with the ranger there (call ahead for times) and chat about Hogey, Cascade and other places on the the trail that starts from there.  If it is what you might be interested in come back another weekend.  You can get to both places as a day trip by taking the  trail over Mt Zion in a 10 mile loop back to your car.   The 'season' for that area is almost over - heat problems.  Also Orchard from the Old Wilson Road trail head used to allow fires...for sure not this year - Its about 3 miles and boasts one of the oldest live oak trees. 

Because they are so close, they are popular with the scouts too.

From the top of the tram in Palm Springs there are good overnights. Again check on restrictions. 

For the most part, as Bill has said, you might have to get used to listening to the soft, gentle purr* of a blazing MSR Dragon Fly instead of the mellow crackle of a wood flame.

The desert is also available for open fires in some locations.  You have to carry the wood with you, however.

For more solitude, middle of June on, consider the eastern Sierra.  Starting at Lone Pine on US-395, every wide space in the road has access to the high Sierra via 11,000+' passes.  Spectacular scenery, hard fought for.  Again there are open fire restrictions for other reasons than parched earth.  The time that it takes to produce 'harvestable' wood for a fire is one...longer than your life time.

Six miles in on most trail heads gets you into lakes and enough space to find a quiet nook.  Many of these trails have been written up several times in the forums.  You can use the search capability here and spend a weekend browsing.

While on your way to Chantry Flats from I-210 go south about a quarter mile to REI.  They would be happy to get you started on hiking in and around SoCal.

*Your experience may differ.

8:42 p.m. on May 9, 2013 (EDT)
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anza Borrego desert state park allows fires in a container only. no open ground fires.

3:49 p.m. on May 13, 2013 (EDT)
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From another forum - no fires tho.

By Tarol

There are a bunch of options in the San Gorgonio Wilderness - still some snow at the highest elevations, but these are mostly snow-free right now:

Momyer Trailhead to Alger or Dobbs Camps
Vivian Trailhead to Halfway or High Camps
South Fork Trailhead to Dollar or Dry Lakes
San Bernardino Peak Trailhead to Limber Pine Camp

8:19 p.m. on May 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I second the Chantry Flats/Mt. Zion/Big Santa Anita Cyn loop.  You can get there in the afternoon, hike to spruce grove campground for the first night and complete the loop via Mt. Zion/Upper Winter Creek Trail passing Hoegees Campground on the way back.  I did this overnight recently in mid May 2013. Conditions were perfect, but I agree with a previous post that the season for this overnight may be soon coming to a close due to heat/weather.  Get out there while you still can!  Extremely close/excessible from Los Angeles and you can even hit up Din Tai Fung dumplings off Baldwin on your trip back.  Hopefully, we will be blessed with June Gloom which will make this hike still doable.  

4:41 p.m. on May 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Din Tai Fung?  I knew I'd get some good feedback.  Saturday it is.

Oh one more thing on that trip.

If you go up to Sturdevant Camp (recently owned by a church for group sessions) - above Spruce - and follow the trail for another hour or so, it will lead you to Mt Wilson summit.  It makes a great 14 mile day loop exiting at Upper Winter Creek (trail down is from SW corner of main parking lot on Wilson).  Or have a friend meet you on top - or drop you off.  As you come down the ridge make sure you don't go to the right down to Mahogany.  You'll get down but a long walk back to your car from Sierra Madre.

Mt Wilson has (free) docent tours of most of historical as well as active astronomical facilities on the  weekends.  Check on that too.

In early June just above Sturdevant Camp there are some awesome puff balls to 6".  Wonderful pan fried in butter.

Check out the TRIP PLANNING Forum for other trips in the eastern edge of the range around San Bernardino.

2:29 a.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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My answer is no. In the past few years, SoCal has seen some huge fires started by campers or hunters that have burned hundreds of thousands of acres, thousands of houses and killed several dozen people.

Here is a link to a story about some of them from 2007-

and the Cedar Fire from 2003-

The monetary damage, not to mention the loss of life, is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

If you live here, you should be well aware of the danger. If you aren't, you should not be going camping anywhere until you understand the consequences of starting a fire and having it get out hand.


May 22, 2018
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