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What a difference a couple thousand feet make! Silverwood Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains lies amid high-desert…

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What a difference a couple thousand feet make! Silverwood Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains lies amid high-desert scrub and chaparral at 3,350 feet—a world that Miller Canyon Trail quickly leaves behind in favor of an alpine-flavored realm of Douglas firs, Jeffrey pines, and dizzying mountain views. This 9.8-mile (round-trip) out-and-back gains 1,906 feet from start to summit, and it’s more than worth the challenge. You’ll ultimately rise high above Silverwood Lake and the densely forested canyon for a stunner of a view of the eastern face of the San Gabriel Mountains and snowcapped Mount Baldy.

The trail starts in a dense canopy of California black oak trees. Wherever the forest cover thins out, keep your eye on the sky, because Miller Canyon is one of a handful of areas in Southern California with known populations of wintering bald eagles. Silverwood SRA even offers guided bald eagle boat tours from January through March.

Miller Canyon Trail San Bernardino Mountains
Miller Canyon Trail San Bernardino Mountains
Miller Canyon Trail San Bernardino Mountains
Miller Canyon Trail San Bernardino Mountains
Miller Canyon Trail San Bernardino Mountains
Miller Canyon Trail San Bernardino Mountains
Miller Canyon Trail San Bernardino Mountains
Miller Canyon Trail San Bernardino Mountains
Miller Canyon Trail San Bernardino Mountains

The hike entails a steady incline with of bits of pavement scattered throughout. It’s also a popular mountain biking route. Two-thirds of the way up you’ll reach a switchback at a three-way intersection. From there it’s a curvy way up to the ridgeline. The destination isn’t marked, but you’ll know it when you see it: a grand view of the Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area and the San Gabriels beyond. An eagle’s-eye view!

From the I-15 in Cajon Pass, exit on CA-138 and go east—you’ll pass Silverwood Lake—for 18 miles. Turn left on Miller Rd. and make a quick right to stay on Miller Rd. Park at the OHV trailering site or in one of the parking offshoots farther up Miller Rd. The trailhead is a short distance up Miller Rd. past the OHV trailering site. Look for a small green and white Miller Canyon sign, along with forest road markers that read N237 and N238. A high-clearance vehicle can make it to the trailhead without a problem, but if you have a regular passenger car you might want to park at the trailering site and trek the extra half-mile; the road gets rocky. Dog-friendly!

 

 

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