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Deep Creek

Features: Deep Creek flows from the mixed conifer forests of the San Bernardino Mountains through unique, diverse, and spectacular scenery to the the Mojave Desert. Along the way, the creek carves a rugged canyon, tumbling over granite cliffs and around house-sized boulders, and forming limpid pools lined with willow, alder, and cottonwood.

The creek supports the greatest diversity of wildlife habitats and vegetation communities of any drainage in the San Bernardino National Forest. Deep Creek provides an important habitat linkage between the desert and mountains and is home to the endangered southwest willow flycatcher (a songbird) and arroyo toad. The rare lemon lily and Humboldt lily grow along its banks. California spotted owls nest in nearby conifers and oaks, while golden eagles soar overhead.

A significant cultural pathway, the Vanyume Serrano Indians followed Deep Creek from their villages in the Mojave Desert to collect acorns and access other food sources in the mountains. Today, the river canyon is the route of the Pacific Crest Trail, which provides easy access for anglers, hikers, backpackers, and families seeking a refreshing dip in the creek’s cool waters. A popular backpacking destination along Deep Creek is the fabled Deep Creek Hot Springs.

Wild & scenic protection of Deep Creek will ensure that present and future generations may continue to enjoy the stream for hiking, swimming, fishing, and other backcountry recreational pursuits.

Directions: There are two ways to access the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) along Deep Creek – an upper access and a lower access.

Upper PCT Deep Creek Access (best in the summer): Depending on weather and road conditions, gates to the upper access roads may be closed and locked. Contact the Forest Service’s Big Bear Ranger Station and Discovery Center at (909) 382-2790 for the latest trailhead access and trail information. From the junction of Hwy 18 and 173 near Lake Arrowhead, drive north on Hwy 173 to Lake Arrowhead. Turn right and continue on Hwy 173 to the community of Cedar Glen. Turn right on Hook Creek Road. After about 2 miles, Hook Creek Road turns into Forest Road 2N26Y. Follow Forest Road 2N26Y about 1 mile to a junction with Road 3N34. Veer left and drive about .5 miles to the Splinter Cabin – Deep Creek parking area. A Forest Visitors Fee of $5 is charged to park here. Drop down from the parking lot to Deep Creek, where just a bit downstream, you can see the PCT bridge crossing the creek. You can hike the PCT further downstream from the bridge as a day trip, or if you can arrange a car shuttle, hike 16 miles downstream to the Mojave Dam trailhead near Hesperia. The Splinter Canyon to Mojave Dam segment of the PCT along Deep Creek is also a great overnight backpack trip.

Lower Deep Creek Access (best in the spring, winter, fall): From Interstate 15, take the Main Street Exit in Hesperia. Drive approximately 6 miles east on Main Street to the intersection with Rock Creek Road, where Main Street becomes Arrowhead Lake Road and heads south. Drive approximately 5 miles south on Arrowhead Lake Road. Look for the large Mojave Dam and a turn out on your left that leads to a locked yellow gate. Park here (avoid blocking the gate) and proceed on foot past the gate and across the top of the dam to the Pacific Crest Trail, which heads upstream on Deep Creek.


Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. Always hike with a friend and carry a cell phone for emergencies. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. Remember, California’s wild places are beautiful but they can also be dangerous to the unprepared and unwary. The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials.