The deeply weathered summit of Mount San Jacinto stands 10,834 feet above sea level, and is the second highest mountain range in Southern California. No more than a two hour drive from either Los Angeles or San Diego, the mountain's magnificent granite peaks, subalpine forests, and fern-bordered mountain meadows offer a unique opportunity to explore and enjoy a scenic, high-country wilderness area. The park offers two drive-in campgrounds near the town of Idyllwild. Most of the park is a designated wilderness area enjoyed by hikers and backpackers When you enter Mount San Jacinto State Park, you come into the heart of the wilderness, high in the San Jacinto Mountains. This 14,000-acre park can be reached via Highway 243 from Idyllwild or by tram from Palm Springs. Granite peaks, subalpine forests and mountain meadows offer the best opportunity to enjoy a primitive high-country experience south of the Sierra Nevada range. San Jacinto Peak - a giant, often snowcapped crag marked by great upthrusts of weathered granite - rises almost 11,000 feet above sea level. It is the highest peak in the San Jacinto Range and in the California State Park system, and the second-highest point in southern California. Several other peaks within the park are over 10,000 feet, and much of the rest of the park, standing at more than 6,000 feet in elevation, is cool and comfortable in the summer. From the Tramway Mountain Station, you can see Palm Springs, green with golf courses and agriculture made possible through irrigation of the Coachella Valley. The vistas from the park sweep into the desert beyond Palm Springs for more than a hundred miles, extending southeast to the Salton Sea and beyond into the Imperial Valley. The northeast face of the San Jacinto Range plunges down 9,000 feet in less than four miles, making it one of the steepest and most spectacular escarpments in North America. Starting in Chino Canyon near Palm Springs, the tram takes passengers from Valley Station at 2,643 feet elevation to Mountain Station on the edge of the wilderness, elevation 8,516 feet. The Mountain Station features a restaurant, gift shop, snack bar, and the state park visitor center. In Long Valley, a short walk from the station, you will find the Long Valley Ranger Station, a picnic area with barbecue stoves and restrooms, a ski center, a self-guiding nature trail, and Desert View Trail which offers panoramas of the high country including several peaks over 10,000 feet in elevation. You can also enter the hiking trail system from this point.
I completed a partial recon hike during daylight hours just to become familiar with the trail prior to hiking it on the 23rd. I stepped off at about 0700, it was already almost 80 degrees. I hiked up 4 miles just a bit short of the 4300ft marker. I had a map that showed distances to specific markers on the trail. I found that none of the distances on the map matched my GPS. For example, Rescue 1 is marked as being 2.1 miles. My GPS had it at 2.6. Based on the time it took to get to it, I am inclined to say that the GPS has the correct distance. It got hot really quickly and the heat (up 95) took its toll during my 8 mile out and back. There were more people on the trail than I expected. Most of them just hiking in a short distance, and others doing some trail running. Neither going up to the top. If you attempt to hike this make certain you are prepared and you start early. We are starting at 0315, next week.
What an awesome challenge! You must be in shape and experienced before attempting this hike. If you have never hiked this trail before, I strongly recommend doing a daylight pre-hike first. I hike the first four miles up the week before our Sunday hike, just so I could become a little familiar with the trail prior to starting off in the dark at 0315 Sunday. It is pretty easy to get turned around on the trail. Especially in the dark. Our starting weather was perfect. About 70/75 degrees. The temps went up a little, but by the time we were at 6000ft, we had easily beaten the heat of the desert and the temps started going down. When we made it to the peak it was raining, the winds were about 30/35mph and the temps were around 35 degrees with the wind chill factor. Make sure you have a map and compass, and a GPS tracking device. There were about three or four other groups doing C2C today as well. We played leap frog with one of them most of the way up. I took 6 liters of water and was down to my last half liter when we finished. I also used electrolyte tablets twice during the hike.
Did this as part of cactus to cloud hike. So started at Palm Springs museum trail head and reached the rangers place to catch the trail start. Nice easy trail. All gradual and smooth till the last mile or so to summit. The final 0.3 miles are steep and involve boulder scrambling.
A physically rough hike made even tougher by altitude. Spend some time researching mountain sickness, understand it's signs and don't think your exempt from it's effects because your in good cardio shape.
Buy tickets online for the earliest time available (9:00 AM for me) then show up at 7:30 to see if you can get an earlier spot (wasn't an issue for us on a Saturday). You want as much time as possible to get used to the alt and take extended breaks.
Check in with the Rangers down the ramp from the tramway. For $2 you get a map that they'll highlight for you and give you advice on how to navigate the more confusing trail branches along with pointing out common mistakes.
Make your way from the Ranger station to the Wellman's Divide split/junction. Spend an hour there to get used to the elevation and rest up before the final 2.5 mile trek to summit, you won't regret it and the scenery is spectacular. Make sure you understand the signs and are heading on the right trail when you leave.
The Peak trail is rough, you'll need breaks as you traverse the switchbacks. Keep going and you'll soon be above all those peaks you've been admiring through the trees. The views are stunning the entire way.
When you reach the rock cabin you're right below the peak, it's closer than it appears!
I had a rough time doing this hike despite hiking every weekend in Idyllwild and Palomar over the last two months. The effects of altitude hit me far harder than the physical exertion. Make sure you're ready for this one and don't take it lightly. We witnessed folks quiting due to mountain sickness, limping back with injuries and one being carted away by Rangers. Others were running the trail and making me feel every bit my age while leaving me in awe. I intend to do this hike several times but will camp overnight at one of the camps to let my body adjust prior to summit.
There's no water sources on San Jacinto, the water spiket was dry at Round Valley on 10/15/2016 with a few bottles of water left by fellow hikers under it.
A very steep, challenging, but none the less rewarding hike. This was one of the most difficult trails I have attempted so far, if not the most. You never stop climbing except for a few areas around the Little Round alley Campground. However the views from the top of San Jacinto are some of the most rewarding you will ever get. The trail is well marked for the most part but maintained moderately since it is a moderately traveled trail. You will encounter downed trees on the trail occasionally to where you need to find a way around them. Now while the hike up is really tough, honestly the hardest part is the hike down. My knee started giving out on the way down from the mountain to the point where we ended our hike almost 2 hour later than we expected. Overall an incredible hike and one I strongly recommend to those who are up for the challenge.
excellent trail. well maintained. looks like some recent maintenance on some of the over growth area's along acouple different sections along the trail. arrived at devils slide at 6:30 am. took the two of us just about seven hours which included acouple breaks and about a 45 minute rest at the san jacinto peak. Beautiful views with clear skys.
Pictures look awesome, but can't do justice to the amazing views once you reach the cliffs. This is definitely a trail for the adventurous. I've read online that the trail is longer than 6.7 miles round trip, it seemed much further than that and our step counter recorded 10+ miles. Regardless of actual distance it's 3.5+ miles on an incline to reach the rock. The trail condition ranges from smooth to rock steps and it often feels (and looks) like it's a drainage ditch more than a trail. Trekking poles recommended.
You'll need a daily adventure pass ($5) or a yearly pass along with a wilderness permit (free) on this trail. Both are available at the Idyllwild Ranger Station 1 mile from the trail head. You can self service the wilderness permit if it's closed and get the pass from multiple locations in town. Parking fills up quickly on the weekend, by 8:15 AM there were few spots left.
Make sure to dress for the workout and be prepared water wise. Our group went through nearly 3 liters of water per person.