Big Horn Mine

An abandoned mine that once operated in the 1890’s, Big Horn Mine, was just waiting for us to explore. And, believe it or not, it is waiting for YOU.  

The hike is fairly easy, and the views are just amazing. 

Distance: 4 Miles RT, Fairly Easy **Adventure Pass MUST displayed

To get to trailhead, you’ll need to get to Wrightwood; the drive can feel long yet enjoyable. Passing Mountain High ski resort and Grassy Hollow Visitors center campground, and right before road closes on Highway 2, Vincent Gap is your stop.

Our hike started late in the afternoon, with nowhere to be but on the trail exploring, we took our time knowing hike shouldn’t take that long. Regardless, our headlamps in packs at all time. 

Arrived to Vincent Gap Trailhead at around 1pm. Goofed off a little; it was kind of windy so Christopher tossed on a thermo under his sleeveless shirt, and we were good to go. Christopher was happy with his  new daypack; perfect fit, comfy and way lighter than backpackers pack. 

At the end of the Vincent Gap parking lot, the trail begins. Go passed the white locked gate; there are multiple trails. Follow sign for MINE GULCH. In about 5 minutes a fork is reached. To the left, Vincent Cabin and to the right, Big Horn Mine. We did not explore the cabin, word on the mountain is that it’s an off-trail trek, be cautious and if possible have GPS handy.  

We stayed right at the fork, heading to the abandoned mine. In about 3/4 mile, a treacherous drop off must be traversed. Very doable, just requires to stay focus on trail. The rocky rugged terrain looks sketchy, and has room for only one person at a time. Keep alert, and you’ll be fine.

Passed that, a small hill must be conquered, then flattens out. This got us a bit out of breath, and forced us to take our first water gulp. 

You will pass a mine structure on the right, this means you are closer to your destination. Keep going. After rainy days, or while snow melts, there’s most likely to be running water coming from inside the mini mine. 

2 miles into the hike, we arrived to our destination: Big Horn Mine. Full story of mine can be found here 

It was awesome, the views of Mt. Baldy were spectacular. And, the exploring began. ​

​Christopher decided to explore, ignoring the fact we were already hungry. At the beginning of the mine structure, there is a way up. It is steep and slippery, good grip is key. 

Once you reach the top of what once was the factory, there is a mine protected by metal bars. 

One of the bars is broken off, and it is manageable to squeeze in. Headlamp or phone light is needed, it is pitch black a few feet from entrance.

A scavenger hunt for our headlamps in our packs; spotted, packs remained off while making it across. Let the exploring begin.​

​We walked about 10 minutes into the mine, reaching a split on the road, or should I say, mine. To the left, the mine gets deeper and darker, and to the right, what seemed an outlet to the running water spotted upon arriving.

Already close to starving, we convinced ourselves the mine would look the same if we went further, and decided to turn back.

Before we started grubbing, a quick litter pick up was performed. The amount of water bottles and cans was insane. 

Time to munch: we stopped by a Subway before heading up the mountain. Best idea ever, wife has always been a good thinker.

While eating, a group of 4 hikers sat down at a distance. They looked tired, and dirty as can be, as if they had gone deep into the mine. Only one way to find out, I just had to ask. 

Apparently, they were inside the mine for a few hours, going a few miles deep. One of the guys, pants rolled up to his knee, said “there are a few crossings that are about knee deep.” The time was now 2:45pm and they had been inside the mine since around 11am. Crazy if you ask me, but then again, that’s is one of the best ways to discover and explore. 

Our exploring needs satisfied, bellies full, we were snapping a few pics until BAMM!! Humans… lots of them. And they were loud. A tad bit too busy for our taste, we quickly grabbed our packs and bailed.​


As dramatic as it sounds, that’s exactly how it all went down. 

Back on the trail, retraced our steps and hiked back with a smile on our faces, happy campers. 

Along the way, we had spotted patches of snow off the trail, Christopher was in heaven. Even for that short period of time. He would run up to the snow patch, and play while we caught up, then back to hiking.

3:45pm, hike concluded, all situated and ready to hit the road.

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