Big Horn Mine and Vincent Cabin Hike: Old Abandoned Mine

The hike to the beautiful and rugged Big Horn Mine has been on my radar for a long time. I was able to complete it around October, right before Southern California snow rolled in. It is a great way to explore the backcountry and to take in a little history while you are at it. See below for the review of the four-mile hike that leads you to an abandoned mine.

big horn mine-2-2

Details

  • Parking Free with Adventure Pass
  • 4 miles and 500 feet of elevation
  • Old mine at the end and optional side hike to Vincent’s Cabin

History

old big horn mine photo

For the history of the mine you can peruse this guide, but here is a little synopsis.

Local legend tells that Charles Tom Vincent originally discovered the mine when he was hunting big horn sheep in the area. The mine itself started being created in 1895 and was to a depth of 300 feet and a distance of 1,200 feet in length. According to a couple of sources over 100,000 dollars in gold was taken from the mine. After that time the mine had varying owners over the years, one that created the wagon road that is used to hike to the mine currently. 

Getting There

The trailhead is located in the Vincent Gap Parking Area. You can get there by heading on Highway 2 past Wrightwood,  you will go up and past the Grassy Hollow Visitors Center. The road then heads down all the way to the Vincent Gap Parking Area on the left hand side where you would park to hike Mt Baden Powell as well.

The Hike

Big Horn Mine Trail Head

The hike itself starts from the aforementioned parking lot several miles past Mountain High ski resort. This is a general parking lot for many other hikes in the region, including Mt Baden-Powell. Be sure to take the road heading left because there are no signs for this particular mine.

Fall Hiking

The road winds around for a quarter of a mile before it divides into two trails: one down and the other forward. If you want to see Vincent’s Cabin, head to the left; however, I would recommend you take a GPS and a waypoint because there are no signs and it is easy to miss. If you don’t want to see the cabin, then proceed on the right hand trail. It will take you all the way to Big Horn Mine.

Vincent’s Cabin

Vincent Cabin Black and White

The cabin is a well-maintained piece of history and it is worth trying to find. The building itself has been well kept and has a lot of the original tools still hanging near the fireplace. When we were there we found a small piece of paper that told the history of this cabin. Look for that paper because it helped us to understand what we were standing in.

My memory is a little fuzzy but I believe Vincent was a gold miner in Arizona and when some people came onto his mine he killed them because he heard they were stealing his gold. He and his friend fled Arizona because they were terrified and they arrived here where he lived in this cabin and worked in Big Horn Mine.

Vincent Cabin Approach

The cabin is only one room, but it is fun to walk through and take pictures inside. After seeing the cabin, retrace your steps up the hill to the original fork in the road.

Big Horn Mine

Wrightwood Hiking

Continue walking down the main path for about 1.5 miles. You will be hugging the sides of the mountain and climbing upwards.  The trail eventually empties out into a beautiful vista which shows the mountain on one side and the valley on the other.

Hiking in Wrightwood mine

Continue a little father and you will pass a small mine outlet on your right hand side. This is not Big Horn Mine — keep going! After you gain more elevation and round a bend you will see an open gate.  Proceed through the gate to catch your first glimpse of the mine.

big horn mine-1

Feel free to explore the mine as much as you want. However, be very careful because the mine building is in disrepair and much of the wood and planks could break with pressure.

big horn mine-2

This is a great place to admire the view and eat a packed lunch.

big horn mine-1-2

If you want to see the entrance of the mine, you will need to climb up the broken wood from where you are standing. Keep in mind there are steel bars blocking the entrance to the mine though.

Big Horn Mine Entrance

This is where the path is the most unsafe and I would recommend only doing this if you are very careful. There is not much to see because the mine is completely closed off. However, you can get a nice view of the building from above if you do decide to risk the climb.

Big Horn Mine from above

After you have finished looking around and enjoying the scenery, simply proceed back the way you came. When I was here I saw at least 15 other people on the trail. This is also a good trail for older children because it is not too strenuous and they can see the huge mine building at the end. I would love to hear from you if you have been — let me know in the comments.

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About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.

  • Elliot B

    This looks like another fun hike just like the rest of yours. It is yet another that i will add to my list. Thanks again for the ideas!
    Elliot
    We Are Adventure

    • No problem! Thanks for reading!

  • Edgar Arredondo

    Just got around to checking this place out. Wow, views from the top were breathtaking. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for including maps for how to get there!

    • No problem, it is one of the more unique hikes in California for sure!

  • Kristen

    i love this list of Hikes! most of them I’ve never heard of! My boyfriend and I just took the hike to big morn mine and it was awesome!! Tomorrow we’re headed to Murphy ranch! Thank you for posting them ! We’re excited to finish all of them!

    • No problem, thanks for the comment! Let me know which one you like best when you finish them!

  • John

    I recently took the hike and was able to enter the mine, someone removed one of the bars and inside was crazy. Wasn’t able to explore much because of time but I recomend going and checking it out again. I’m going to check out the shipwreck tomorow !

    • Glad you had fun, let me know how the shipwreck hike is!

  • Abby

    Do you recommend that young children take this trail? Wondering whether or not that would be suitable

    • I saw many children when I did it today make it up to the mine no problem. It is a decent hike but not too hard so I would say if your child likes hiking they would probably be OK on this trail.

  • Caitlin

    What exactly do you mean by, “Parking Free with Adventure Pass”?
    And approximately how long is this hike?

    • An adventure pass is a year long pass sold by the forrest service for $25. If you have one then you do not need to pay for parking but if not you will need to pick one up. You can buy one just for the day for $5 too.

  • VFD2

    The driving directions on this site are crap. My wife hates me because I used them. They leave you an hour from the trailhead.

    • Thanks for the comment and sorry you got lost with the directions. I have updated this post to try and clarify where the parking area is.

  • Tish Suarez

    We did the Big Horn Mine last year and decided to go back today and find Vincent’s Cabin. We took the trail down to the left towards Mine Gulch which said it’s 4.5 miles. After hiking 3 miles we came to a bunch of downed trees blocking the trail. I decided to turn around and head back because we really had no idea where to even look for the cabin. Could you please post how far from the turnoff pint to where the cabin is? Thank you.

    • Thanks for the comment and for the recommendation for how to make the post better. Check out this everytrail map as it looks like it shows about how far you go to get to the cabin. http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=675163

      • Tisha Suarez

        Thank you, we’re going to try again some other day. I pretty much base our hikes off of your blog, we really enjoy your hikes…thank you.

        • Thanks so much for the comment and I am glad you have found a bunch of great hikes. What was your favorite?

          • Tisha Suarez

            As far as favorite, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one but I’d have to say Bridge to Nowhere, Potato Chip, Big Horn Mine, Echo Mountain up to Inspiration Point and Murphy Ranch.

          • Nice, those are all great choices!

  • Tisha Suarez

    After doing Murphy’s Ranch in Pacific Palisades today we came over here to finally find Vincent’s Cabin…We found it!!! Didn’t see any paper inside telling the history but it was awesome to see some history. Thank you for the hike.

    • Thanks for the comment and glad you were able to find it, it can be hard to do that!

  • Thom Pearson

    Back in the late 70’s my brothers and I explored the mine shaft several times. It was still open back then. With flashlights and lanterns in hand we spent hours inside. About 200 yards in is the big open area of the shaft. Old wooden ladders going up in several places to other shafts and an ore car stuck in the dirt and off the track. Never took anything from the mine. Only fond memories of being deep inside that fine mine. Thom Pearson

  • Angie

    Actually there’s a pretty big broken part of the metal and you can kinda squeeze in through there. We did and went pretty far inside the mine. Very beautiful! Definitely take a strong flashlight as well.

  • Oddity Odysseys

    Guess what our season finale is on…. 😉

    • Nice, that is one of my favorite spots! I have shot videos there like 5 times and never got around to editing them haha. I cant wait to see what you come up with.

  • Thanks for sharing, always fun to see the videos you guys make!