Big Horn Mine Trail – Angeles National Forest

Big Horn Mine

I found this trail using the AllTrails app. I had seen such neat pictures of this old run down mine that I really wanted to check it out for myself. The Big Horn Mine Trail is located in Wrightwood, California. We had beautiful scenery to look at along the way and even some snow here and there since we visited in February. We stopped by the forest information center to find out where the heck we were. Not surprising that my directions nearly got us lost. 😐 We purchased a day pass for five dollars and got a few maps and very helpful directions from the friendly ranger.


The Big Horn Mine was first started in 1895 by a civil war veteran named Tom Vincent. Tom was hunting big horn sheep in the San Gabriel mountains and had tried his luck at mining on some of the surrounding mountains before stumbling on the gold within Mt. Baden-Powell. This discovery lead to the creation of the Big Horn Mine.


Left to the cabin and right to the mine

There is a fork along the trail where you can go left to Vincent’s old hunting cabin or right to the mine. We did not venture down to the cabin because I knew I would not enjoy the hike back up as the cabin is a ways down the gulch. I really wanted to make sure we made it to the mine first. I will definitely have to come back at some point though to check out the cabin.


Today’s hike was really special to me as this was my last hike with my son Brandon. He is leaving for the Army on the 13th and I will most likely not see him for a very long time. Keeping it together…sigh.


While this hike is an out an back with only four miles round trip it really felt much longer at times. The trail tested my fear of heights over and over again when we would reach very narrow parts of the trails with sheer drop offs and rock slide areas. I got pretty tired on the last leg as it was up hill and I just wanted to be there already! But we made it! Don’t get me wrong, it was well worth the trip!


This was the first sign we had seen of the mine and was located quite a ways away from the old stamp mill.
Beyond the bars in the picture above was an old mine tunnel with about a foot of water.


Photograph from 1935 of the two story stamp mill.
Brandon and I inside the old stamp mill. Most of the original building is now missing.
View from what is left of the stamp mill.


Bottom half of the two story ore hopper. See the shoots at the bottom? So neat.
The pile of wood you see in this photo is what remains of the upper part of the building.
Broken wagon track
Ore loader

We went inside the mine! I do not advise this and probably should not have gone either, but we did. It was very neat and very scary. So you know from previous posts as well as this one that I am not a fan of heights. I am also not a fan of small confined spaces and claustrophobia often plagues me. In fact, typing that sentence made my palms sweat! Each of us had a pretty good flashlight with us thankfully. Once you got past the main tunnel there isn’t any day light lighting your path. It was dark, cold, and narrow in a few places. I am glad the video can’t hear my whining because I did a lot of it. I kept wanting to turn back. I think knowing that there were people ahead of us in the tunnel kept me going. When they were on their way back and we met them I decided that I had had my fill. We honestly did not go in very far before returning.


Brandon in a creep tunnel with a GoPro and Karma Grip. 🙂


Brandon is in the tunnel to the left


Luckily there was light at the end of the tunnel.
A view through the bars of our exit.


By the way, the reason I put “sort of” for the restrooms is because they were just really bad. So gross that I almost threw up! It is possible I caught them on a bad day but they are also a hole in the ground with a toilet seat on top so maybe they are always that way…oh well.



I had a great adventure today. I hope you enjoyed my photographs and video! Until next time…happy trails.






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