A far drive from LA but worth the trip is the Big Horn Mine perched high in the San Gabriel Mountains. A remnant of gold mining history in the Los Angeles County.
Distance: 4 miles RT (Round trip)
Elevation Gain: 500ft.
Time: 2 hours (more if exploring the mine)
Fees: Adventure Pass
Trail Map (2 miles):
Parking address: Park at Vincent Gap. Parking for this hike requires a Forest Adventure Pass.
Click Here for exact google maps location.
History and Abandonment:
San Gabriel legend Charles "Tom" Vincent originally spotted the gold-bearing quartz vein in 1895 which would begin the history of this mine. Millions of dollars spent and 50 years later it would become the largest gold mining operation in Southern California.
December 2016 | August 1938
Historical photos of workers in the mine (probable taken in the early 1900's):
After first discovery by Charles "Tom" Vincent, the mine had a long history of many owners. Ultimately, the mine was never profitable enough to stay open. But over the years very extensive work was done on this hillside leaving the large network of abandoned tunnels and remains of the building there today.
The trail starts from the parking lot. Follow the Big Horn Mine Rd. 2 miles to the mine. Stick to the signs. Along the way there is one narrow rocky path with a steep drop, use caution here. Once getting to the mine the views are incredible and an entrance to the tunnels is on the second level.
Trail Photos/Additional Directions:
After Parking, locate the bathroom stall. Behind the bathroom is where the trail starts.
Without going left or right continue straight until you see this sign:
The trail does not make any left or right turns after this sign, follow the trail all the way to the mine.
Maybe stop for the occasional photo! Gotta thank the cool hiking crew we had this time.
Halfway to the mine there is one sketchy area which is made of scree (broken rocks) with a steep drop on the left side. Use caution here when crossing.
Finally we make it to the mine. The first floor has a cool lookout for photo opportunities. Climb the stairs to the second floor top find the mines.
Reaching the Mine:
After 2 miles we reached the mine. The decaying structure is a symbol of the gold mining era here in Los Angeles.
Location for the entrance to the tunnels will not be given in this guide.
Although these mining tunnels have been heavily explored by many people, exploring mining tunnels is generally considered dangerous.
In 2002 a group called the Grotto Team mapped out all the tunnels of the entire mine, here's their map:
Not for the feint of heart.
The inside of the tunnels was musky and soaked. Water droplets fall from the ceiling and decaying wooden boards to cross over the pools of water inside.
We did not stay for long.
All in all it felt like a moment in National Treasure discovering some lost relics or something. After wandering the tunnels for a while we headed back to the car before sundown.