The Big Horn Mine, once a living and working quarters for the miners who tenaciously worked hard to extract gold from the hillside. This mine, named after the Big Horn Sheep that roam these parts is by far the largest mine in the LA County. In 1895 it was discovered by a man named “Tom” Vincent who found the quartz-bearing vein in the mountain side while hunting Big Horn Sheep. It was not long until the mine showed promise and was bought out by a larger company named the Lowell and California Mining Company which operated the mine from 1903-1908. During that time 50 men were employed it was reported that over 500,000 dollars worth of gold was excavated.
Distance: 4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 650 feet
Time: 2 hours (more with exploring)
Parking Address and map located at bottom of blog.
Getting to the mine:
Finding the Big Horn Mine is very easy due to the good condition of the trail and the many hikers leaving from the area.
Immediately after leaving your car you will feel the breeze of the deep San Gabriels, mountain high and lone pine are located nearby. After preparing for the hike, located the trailhead. It’s to the left of the bathrooms in the lot, most likely you will see a few hikers leaving from the mine trail, so you should be able to locate it.
We began the hike at a steady pace, there was almost no elevation gain in the beginning of the hike which made it quite easy. Huge pines, native to these mountians, guided the way along the trail.
Even though it was very bright out, we still felt a chill, at this high of an elevation, the cold air sets in. At along the .5 mile mark you will see a split in the path.
The well marked left hand path leads to Mine Gulch, which also leads to the recently restored Charles “Tom” Vincent’s cabin. Tom Vincent lived in this cabin most of his life, it was here where he discovered the mine. The forest service restored the cabin in 2002.
We didn’t have time to explore this trail, so sadly we have no pictures as of yet.
The other path leads to the mine, take this path for another 2 miles, from this point it is strait-forward to the mine.
Take the time to enjoy some of the views along the way.
At about 1.3 miles into the hike the hike becomes a little more difficult. The steepness of the hills kicks in, you may find yourself taking a quick break like we did before resuming.
The sketchiest part of the trail a little over halfway in the hike. The trail becomes a very rocky and skinny trail alongside the mountain edge. Examine the photos below to prepare for this section. Take it slow if needed.
Almost to the mine!
The mine has been sighted. Enjoy the views.
Tips for Exploring the Mine:
The best entrance to explore the mine is located on top of the building’s east side. There is a small opening large enough for a person to squeeze through.
Tip 1: Water is everywhere.
In the mine you’re gonna water all over the floor, the only thing to walk on are creaky floorboards and rocks. If you have good balance and are patient you can explore the mine without getting wet.
Tip 2: Bring a decent flashlight.
Your phones will suffice for this adventure, but the stronger the flashlight the better. And plus dropping your phone on the water would seriously suck.
Tip 3: Don’t touch the wood.
The wood found in the mine has been sitting in the mine for about a century long. It’s very dirty. For a century the wood has been soaked and become “water logged”. What this means is that the wood had become this mud/wood mixture. It will look like black tar when rubbed off. We learned this the hard way.
Tip 4. Watch for Shafts.
Mine shafts are large openings into the ground which the miners had dug. They are very dangerous. Falling down a shaft can seriously injure or kill a person. Luckily if you stick to the main tunnel, you won’t find any. Please use your own discretion and caution.
Tip 5. The graffiti leads you back.
If you’re ever lost there are graffiti arrows pointing back literally everywhere.
In general enjoy the hike and exploration, when talking to some hikers they said they spent a total of 3 hours exploring the tunnels. Sadly the amount of trash and graffiti here is obscene, please don’t add to it, there’s enough potato chip bags here for another century.
Parking Address and Map:
Parking address is under “Vincent Gap” if you use a GPS app. Or you can paste these coordinates in: 34.373400, -117.752075