Day hikers will need permits in these SoCal wilderness areas


Heads up, hikers: You’ll soon need day-use permits for trails leading to popular high-elevation peaks in the San Bernardino National Forest. Starting Sept. 1, the number of hikers in the San Gorgonio, San Jacinto and parts of the Cucamonga wilderness areas will be limited to avoid overcrowding at trailhead parking lots and trail damage, a recent forest news release said.

“A key characteristic of wilderness is experiencing solitude,” forest supervisor Jody Noiron said in a statement. “We have lost that on many of our wilderness trails and sorely need a place for it in busy metropolitan Southern California.”


Permits are free, but you need to get one before you go. They will be available up to 90 days in advance of your scheduled hike date. Here’s the tricky part: Many ranger stations are closed because of the pandemic, so you’ll need to call ahead (even if you have to leave a message) to reserve.

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Aug. 26, 2020

  • San Jacinto Ranger Station at (909) 382-2921 will issue just 30 permits a day for the Devil’s Slide Trailhead. The quota will be in place Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Permits for midweek and off-season dates are required for all trails. (Permits issued for the state wilderness will be honored.)
  • Cucamonga Wilderness begins at Icehouse Canyon near Mt. Baldy. This wilderness area is shared by the Angeles and San Bernardino national forests. Permits will be required only for Cucamonga Peak, Etiwanda Peak and the Lytle Creek area. Contact the Lytle Creek Ranger Station at (909) 382-2851.

Also, day-use permits limit group size to 12 people, and overnight trips require permits too.