As hiking some of Southern California's tallest peaks and rugged, beautiful wilderness areas become increasingly more popular and crowded, Forest Service officials are reinstating a day-use permit system for entering three wilderness areas in the San Bernardino National Forest starting Tuesday, Sept. 1. Permits for overnight stays remain in effect.

The move back to permits will help realign management of the areas with mandates of the Wilderness Act of 1964. 

"A key characteristic of wilderness is experiencing solitude," said Jody Noiron, Forest Supervisor. "We have lost that on many of our wilderness trails and sorely need a place for it in busy metropolitan Southern California."

Reinstating permits will also help relieve overcrowding at trailhead parking lots, some which are at capacity by the early morning hours. Furthermore, the frequency of damage to vegetation by the widening and degradation of trails as hikers pass each other will be reduced.

Hikers will need a free day-use permit for entering San Gorgonio Wilderness*, San Jacinto and Cucamonga wilderness areas within the San Bernardino National Forest. The requirement is not in effect for wilderness areas that cross into another unit or agency's jurisdiction.

Up to 144 day hikers will be allowed at each trailhead in the San Gorgonio and Cucamonga wilderness areas each day, and there will be a limit of 30 permits available for entry into the San Jacinto Wilderness from the Devils Slide Trailhead on Saturday and Sundays through Labor Day Weekend. Permits for summer weekdays/off season days at that trailhead and for other trailheads in the San Jacinto Wilderness will be required, but there is no quota (Visitors with a permit for the San Jacinto State Wilderness area will be able to use that permit for entry). 

Group sizes for all wilderness areas will be capped at 12 people.

Visitors can obtain free permits up to 90 days in advance and walk-up permits may also be available for visitors attempting a last-minute plan when there is ranger availability. The permits are available through local ranger stations by phone or email.

Permits for the San Gorgonio Wilderness association are also available online through the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association, a Forest Service partner. Contact details are below:

* Cucamonga Wilderness: Contact the Lytle Creek Ranger Station at (909) 382-2851

* San Gorgonio Wilderness: Contact the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association/Mill Creek Ranger Station at (909) 382-2882 or reserve by email at sgwa.org/.

* San Jacinto Wilderness: Contact the San Jacinto Ranger Station at (909) 382-2921. 

(Due to virtual services, visitors should leave a message if the call goes to voicemail.)

*The San Gorgonio Wilderness is currently closed due to the Apple Fire. A forest order closing the wilderness is in effect through September 1. Depending on conditions, the closure may be modified, lifted early or extended. Forest officials will announce by press release and social media changes to the status of the wilderness as it relates to the fire.

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