Local wilderness areas are joining National Parks as popular recreation areas during the coronavirus pandemic. Now with recent overcrowding on trails in the San Bernardino National Forest, the Forest Service is reinstating day use permits for three areas.
Starting September 1, visiting the San Gorgonio, San Jacinto and Cucamonga wilderness areas will require a free permit.
The forest service says trail parking lots have been at capacity by the early morning lately. They hope the permits will slow down use and allow vegetation damage to grow back from large number of hikers on trails.
Some trails will enforce quotas. The San Gorgonio and Cucamonga trails will cap permits at 144 day hikers. The San Jacinto wilderness will have a limit of 30 hikers on the weekends but there will be no quota for weekdays. Groups for all areas will be capped at 12 people.
While some walk-up permits may be available, visitors should plan ahead and get their free permit up to 90 days in advance through local ranger stations. Reservations can be made by phone or email.
- Cucamonga Wilderness: Contact the Lytle Creek Ranger Station at (909) 382-2851
- San Gorgonio Wilderness: Contact the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association/Mill Creek Ranger Station at (909) 382-2882 or reserve by email through https://sgwa.org/.
- San Jacinto Wilderness: Contact the San Jacinto Ranger Station at (909) 382-2921.
- *(Due to virtual services, visitors should leave a message if the call goes to voicemail)