Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
600.00 ft (182.88 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Big Horn Mine has a storied, if not entirely accurate, history, with the tall tales gaining more traction owing to the location's popularity amongst the social media set. While the remains of the site's stamp mill sit precariously on a slope with a breathtaking view of the eastern San Gabriel Mountains, the trail to reach it is relatively straightforward, making the hike a very popular trail where you're likely to encounter numerous other hikers.

The story of the mine's creation goes something along the lines of an old Civil War vet named Charles Vincent Dougherty had shot and killed three would be robbers in Arizona in the late 1800's. Fearing the legal repercussions, Dougherty fled and ended up in the mountains of Southern California. Having assumed the name of Charles "Tom" Vincent, Vincent was deep in the mountainous interior of the San Gabriel's hunting big horn sheep when he came across gold in the quartz stone. 

Without the money to adequately mine the mountain, Vincent sold his claim to the California Mining Company in 1902. At its peak from 1902 until 1906, the mine employed up to 50 workers and a 10 stamp mill was built on site. Later the American Metal Company would lease the land and build a 50 ton mill. (The impressiveness of such infrastructure being transported and built at the mine is mindblowing considering its remote location and the fact that the construction of the Angeles Crest Highway was still about five decades away.) Eventually the mine played out and returns were deemed to be not be worth the cost. The mine would close, reopening on occasion over the years but never taking off again.

Today the Wilderness Land Trust owns the land, and it currently sits in the years-long midst of transfer to the US Forest Service.

Meanwhile, the hike to reach the mine begins on the old road from Vincent Gap (named for Dougherty). While the road is wide and flat, time has eroded the road in several places, leaving it unpassable to vehicles. The two mile path to the mine follows a gradual downhill or uphill slope, depending if you are on your way in or out, and is an easy to moderate route. However there is no water along the way and the Summer sun can be intense.

While the mine ruins are scenic and make the natural end to the hike, keep in mind that the elements are constantly wearing away at the structures, and use extreme caution if going near any of the ruins. 

A pit toilet is located at the Vincent Gap trailhead. Those parking here must display a Southern California Forest Adventure Pass.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Adventure Pass required

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Big views. Interesting artifacts throughout area.

Cons

Crowds. Grafitti.

Trailhead Elevation

6,540.00 ft (1,993.39 m)

Highest point

6,835.00 ft (2,083.31 m)

Net Elevation Gain

425.00 ft (129.54 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Historically significant
Big vistas
Mine

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel Mountains
Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel Mountains
Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel Mountains

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel Mountains
Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel Mountains
Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel Mountains

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