Big Horn Mine Trail: Abandoned Mine and Vincent’s Cabin

Apr 7, 2021 | Los Angeles County, Most Popular, Ruins

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Distance

4 Miles

Time

~2.5 – 3 Hrs

Difficulty

Easy

Elevation Gain

587 Ft

Season

All Year

Bathrooms

Yes (Located at Parking Lot)

There’s no denying that Southern California was once a hub for hundreds of successful and futile mines. Many have been closed off or completely destroyed for various reasons. Luckily, you can venture inside the forsaken Big Horn Mine and head to an old, infamous cabin that was once home to a murderer. 

Big Horn Mine trail is a 4 mile, easy to moderate level hike near Wrightwood, California. The heavily trafficked trail features an accessible abandoned mine. It has an elevation gain of 587 feet with views of the eastern San Gabriel Mountains. Dogs are allowed on leashes. 

I’ll tell you exactly how to get to both places and share some fun and interesting facts with you!

Big Horn Mine Map

Big Horn Mine Trail Directions

Big Horn Mine Address: Pacific Crest Trail, Azusa, CA 91702

Parking Information

The parking lot is pretty big, but it was getting busier by 8 AM.

I highly recommend coming early if you want to avoid most of the crowds on the weekends, especially since this is a shared parking lot for other popular trails in the area. 

You’re supposed to have some type of pass to park here, such as an Adventure Pass, but you can also buy one for $5 from the ranger’s office. 

This parking lot has two bathrooms with plenty of toilet paper, yay!

The Hike to Big Horn Mine Begins

The trailhead is located at the Vincent Gulch Divide parking lot. I walked around the small white gate, on the left side, to access the trail.

big horn mine

I came two days after snowfall and was greeted with a nice, snow-covered path throughout the trail. 

Although I came on the last weekend of March, I wasn’t expecting to see as much snow as I did. 

There were some stunning views of the surrounding mountain range that was still covered in snow. 

After roughly passing the 1-mile mark and walking over a very rocky part of the trail, I came across the first mine shaft. 

This isn’t the Big Horn Mine, but it connects to the tunnels found within the Big Horn Mine.

A friend actually told me that you can squeeze inside this mine shaft and travel all the way to the main mine.

But, I don’t recommend doing that. I don’t know how safe it is and how long it would even take to get to Big Horn Mine via that dark and sketchy route. 

After passing that first shaft, I had to cross through this very narrow path. If you’re hiking this trail after snowfall, like I did, it can be somewhat difficult and unsafe. 

Luckily, I had my hiking shoes with grip along with trekking poles for support and stability. I’m not going to lie, I broke into a sweat while crossing this very narrow and icy path. 

One wrong step would’ve had me sliding down the steep mountain. 

There were two more parts that were very tricky to cross because the snow was soft and slippery. I took my time and successfully crossed. 

After those difficult sections, I spotted the Big Horn Mine!

I could see views of the snow-covered Mount San Antonio and pine mountains. Down below is the East Fork which leads to the famous “Bridge to Nowhere”.

It’s an absolutely beautiful sight after snowfall. 

This is also the perfect spot for Instagram-worthy pictures! 

The only downside of the mine is that the graffiti has gotten worse over the years due to word getting out of this awesome place. 

Here’s another angle. 

After taking in the scenic views and snapping some pictures, I decided it was time to head inside the mine. 

I walked up some steps and carefully crossed over some wooden boards that acted as a pathway to the tunnel entrance. 

Here’s a view from the entrance. You can see the wooden boards that I crossed on the bottom left.

I was a bit weary to head inside after being told that there was someone inside the tunnel yelling at people to get out, but I made the decision to take my chances.

I had to cautiously climb through the opening gap on the metal gate.

Dare to go inside? 

After a few feet of walking inside the tunnel, the road split into two. Inside the mine are extensive tunnels. It’s been said that there are over 8,700 feet of passages. There are also some very large rooms within the mine. 

I advise that you be very careful if you decide to continue on. Make sure you have a bright flashlight with extra batteries or even an extra flashlight on hand. The one I use is listed below this article. 

Hiking to the Big Horn Mine is a definite must on your adventure list. 

It’s one of the only mines in SoCal that’s a lot easier to access.

Although there are many other mines, this one is very extensive and massive compared to the smaller ones I’ve visited.

The views and exploration make this hike well worth doing year-round!

BONUS: Heading to Vincent’s Cabin After the Mine

If you’re doing the Big Horn Mine and still have an itch to explore this place, then you’ll love visiting an old cabin with lots of history that are tied to the Big Horn Mine. 

It’s along the way and can be done before or after getting to the Big Horn Mine. I decided to go after exploring the mine. 

I used an app that helped me locate the “trailhead” of the cabin. When looking down, I could see a barely visible pathway along the side of the mountain. It’s a bit steep but definitely doable. 

Along the way, I found some cougar tracks! I made sure to be aware of my surroundings… just in case. 

After some confusion and trekking in untouched snow, I could partially see the cabin!

It looked very peaceful and isolated with the warm sunlight hitting the rooftop and snow illuminating the ground. 

A man by the name of Charles Tom Vincent built this cabin back in the early 1900s. He founded the Big Horn Mine, encountered some bears, and had a very mysterious and gruesome past. 

If you want to know more about the man and his intriguing story, I have more information down below!

I carefully checked out the inside of this somewhat dilapidated and quaint building. If you look closely, you could see one of Vincent’s old cooking pots above the fireplace. 

I sat on one of the logs and pondered about how Vincent must’ve kept warm in this tiny one-room home, what meals he must’ve heated in that pot, and the bears that he’d hear roaming around the perimeter of this small cabin 

Very fascinating!

Big Horn Mine History

*Photo credits and information gathered from Wrightwood Roots

Back in 1859, a Civil War veteran by the name of Charles Tom Vincent founded the Big Horn Mine after hunting down some Bighorn Sheep.

After discovering gold, he quickly gathered two men and got to work.

Unfortunately, it was too expensive for Vincent and his prospecting partners to fund the strenuous and expensive process of gathering and crushing the ore.

They say he sold it to Lowell and California Mining Company in 1902. But, Vincent and his buddies missed out on their luck.

The years that followed were some of the most productive and profitable times for the new miners. The years 1903 to 1906 brought in the most money.

It was later abandoned after a decade of hard and rewarding work only to be reopened again in the 1930s, then abandoned yet again.

Old Vincent’s Mysterious Past

Charles Vincent was seen as a mysterious man.

He had traveled to California and built his small cabin in Vincent Gulch. He was a hunter, miner and was on the chase for lots of gold.

Living in the mountains meant that there were many bears roaming around the area. He was attacked by a grizzly and suffered serious injuries

On his death bed from the attack in 1926, Vincent had a chilling confession.

After an altercation in Arizona, he had killed three men. This led to him fleeing to California and settling in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Is the Big Horn Mine Haunted? 

The appalling history and backstory of the man behind the Big Horn Mine have led people to believe the place is haunted.

Some visitors have mentioned hearing voices or growls within the tunnels and experiencing chills in certain areas.

But, who knows if that’s true or not.

Recommended Gear 

  • GearLight High-Powered LED Flashlight S2000 – I highly recommend taking a bright flashlight for venturing inside of the mine. I personally own this one and find that it’s a lot brighter than the standard flashlight!

Restaurant Spotlight

Grizzly Cafe

This is the spot you’ll want to come to after (or before) the hike if you’re hungry!

I love the cabin-style/festive decor that the place has, especially during the winter months! It really feels like you’re in the mountains. Plus, the food is great!

Nearby Attraction

Mountain High Resort 

One of the biggest attractions near the Big Horn Mine is the Mountain High Resort. They have something for the whole family.

During the snow season, you can enjoy snowboarding down the slopes, scenic sky chair rides, and playing at Yeti Snow Play.

For a weekend of fun, you can enjoy the resort and add the Big Horn Mine hike to the list! 

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Hello, There!

We’re Monica and Phillip. Just like you, we share a passion for the outdoors and our beautiful state of California. After many years of exploring amazing and hidden places, we thought we’d share them with you! We hope this blog shows you tons of new CA adventures!