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

Apr 7, 2021

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Distance 

4 Miles

Time

~2.5 Hrs

Difficulty

Easy

Season

All Year

Elevation Gain

587 Ft

Big Horn Mine trail in Wrightwood, CA is a 4 mile, easy to moderate level hike passing through the ruins of Vincent’s cabin and ending at the mine. The heavily trafficked trail’s primary feature is the still accessible abandoned mine. It has an elevation gain of 587 feet with views of the eastern San Gabriel Mountains. Dogs are allowed on leashes. 

 

Big Horn Mine Map

 

Big Horn Mine Trail Directions

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

 

Parking Information

Come early to find parking on the weekends! This parking lot is shared with other popular nearby trails, so expect limited parking.

You’re supposed to have an Adventure Pass, but you easily buy one for $5 from the ranger’s office. 

QUICK TIP: Restrooms are available near the parking lot. 

 

Gear I Used on This Hike

Merrel Moab 2 Vent Mid HIking Boots

These are the BEST hiking boots I’ve ever owned. They’re super light, highly ventilated for CA’s hot weather, and provide tons of traction.

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Nalgene Tritan BPA-Free Wide-Mouth Water Bottle

I prefer this 48 oz (1.4 liter) water bottle over a hydration bladder for several reasons: it leaves more room inside my backpack, it’s way easier to clean, and no leaky messes.

VIEW HERE

The products shown above are products I actually use. If you happen to purchase those products after clicking my link, we receive a small Amazon commission, which in turn helps us provide better and more fun content for you guys. 🙂

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. 

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 the 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. 

The only downside of the mine is that the graffiti has gotten worse over the years. 

 

Please be super respectful when visiting these historic relics!

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.

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. 

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 still fairly easy to access!

The Big Horn Mine is extensive and massive compared to the other mines I have visited.

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

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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. 

You’ll need to download an app called AllTrails to locate the “trailhead” of Vincent’s 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 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!

If you look closely, you could see one of Vincent’s old cooking pots above the fireplace. 

I wondered 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!

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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.

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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!

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