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.
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!