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.
If you like a challenge hike and would like a good workout then this day hike is for you. Two friends and I hiked the C2C2C. The tram was down for maintenance until the end of September so we did the complete 30-31 miles up to the peak and back down the same route and had a great time. As others have mentioned:
1. Be physically prepared. If you plan to take the tram down then it is less risky but if no tram, it is going to be a long day. We started at 3:20AM, and made it back to the museum at about 7:15 PM, just as the sun came down. We purposely waited and timed the sun so we end the day at sunset to avoid the heat as much as possible. I have done multiple same day 10,000 ft climb and descents the past month before attempting this hike and did a Mt Rainier summit several days before our hike. All I am saying is to complete something similar before doing this hike.
2. Have plenty of water. Minimum of 4 liters but 5 to be safe. You can always stash them for others if you don't use them.
3. Have GPS. You can go off trail in the dark if you don't have GPS. Though trails are easy to find during the day but at night it's harder, especially when others have created many small paths that goes off to the side of the trails over the years. Many of the side trails you will discover during day lights they are good short cuts to the switchbacks.
4.If you do this along have a PLB. You will lose cellular phone signals along the way up. You will get signal at SJ peak.
5. Have fun!
JERRY I. on Suicide Rock Trail
I rated this hike 4 stars
JERRY I. on Suicide Rock Trail
Definitely a good workout. Bugs were a bit bothersome. Three deer ran across the trail about a half mile from top. Did the complete hike in about 3 and a half hours. That was at a steady pace. The views a the top were really beautiful. Well worth the effort.
This was a great day for hiking. The weather was perfect. I purchase my Tram ticket online. I was disappointed that I could only get a 0900 tram time. I showed up early to the station and was in line at 0700 to see if they would bump my tram time to 0800 (first tram of the day). I normally start my hikes right at sunrise, so even 0800 was a late start for me. They gladly changed my time to 0800. Come to find out only 10% of the tram tickets are sold in advance. Ninety percent are sold the day of. The trail was crowded. Lots of people taking advantage of the holiday weekend to visit San Jacinto State Park, the Tram Station and the restaurants. I was really surprised at how many people (non-hikers) were at the Tram Station when we finished the hike. It was crowded!! However, my hats off to the Tram Staff, they ran a very smooth operation getting people down. We only had to wait about 20 or 30 minutes. Considering the amount of people there were, I thought that was pretty awesome. Lastly, I wanted one of the burgers served at the restaurant however, I felt a bit dirty and under dressed to eat there. Opted for a French dip and fries from the café (not bad). I did find out later that if you order a drink from the bar, you can also order food from the restaurant and a have it served to your table. Next time!
I did this hike in two days. I went straight to the tram after work and got their by 3:00, hiked up to Round Valley and spent the night. I went up the next day and I highly underestimated the altitude. Breathing gets a little harder and as you try to take in more oxygen you lose more energy which in turn makes you more dehydrated. I'm 6'2 and heavyset, so it was through pure will and determination that got me through this hike and I can't forget the support of random strangers along the way. It was definitely a rewarding experience that I will never forget.
It was a loooong hike. I went with out expecting anything but the hike beat my butt. Took my boyfriend and I 4 hours to go up and 11/2 to come down. It sure was a pretty hike. I think the top view is definitely worth it. Take a lot of water and a hat cause it was pretty hot.(summer). All the hikers were friendly. Over all it's a good hike.
Great hike! But finding the trailhead was a challenge. If I were you, I'd park at the true trailhead right before marion mountain campground, and then walk up the road into the campground. There, you'll see signs pointing you to the trailhead. That may save you some wandering around (I added 3/4 of a mile to my hike because of that).
Lots of shade on the hike. Relentlessly steep all the way to Little Round Valley - a bit of a break there, and then some more climbing to the peak.
The track on the map generally follows the trail, but it's often off a bit. At one point, I thought I was off the trail because all of a sudden, water was running down the trail like a very small creek. But, that was the true trail - as I continued on, the water stopped.
Views were spectacular at the peak! Tough going down - much harder for me than going up (patellar tendonitis) - very steep and lots of big steps and rocks. Scenery was great ! Giant boulders and huge fallen trees.
They're doing some work on rerouting the trail - the machinery was making a lot of racket on this particular day. 7 1/2 hours total. 13.6 miles per my GPS. Some of that was wandering around trying to find the trailhead, and wandering a bit thinking I was off-trail.
About 4 liters of water. All in all, a great day!