Black Mountain Trail is a 6.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Idyllwild, CA that features a great forest setting and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from July until December. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Directions from Banning, CA: Travel southeast along Highway 243 into the Forest. The trailhead is located 1.3 miles south of the Vista Grande Fire Station. Trail begins on the uphill side of the road.
Nature's stairmaster! Definitely challenging at the beginning and at the switchbacks towards the end! I hiked it with my dog and really enjoyed most of it(minus the areas infested with bugs)
Pay attention because we lost the trail a couple of times, but were easily able to get back on track.
Be prepared with plenty of water for you and your dog and bring a snack to enjoy at the top!
Happy hiking:) PS-GPS clocked us at 9.75 miles and 2600 foot incline.
There is a ton of shade, and pretty much everywhere you stop to look there is a great view behind you. I would rate this as being difficult, as the trail is pretty relentlessly uphill. It's pretty dusty most of the way and slippery in some places. The small parking lot is easy to miss, as its up a little dirt driveway on the hill. We were coming from the Idyllwild direction so the driveway was in the right and took an awkward hairpin maneuver to get to on a blind corner. I would suggest either coming from Banning, or if you're coming from Idyllwild, pass the trail at first and make a u-turn at a safer place to approach with the driveway on the left. It looks like there was another way in at one time but it looks overgrown.
Ill start by saying it was a satisfying hike though incomplete. My wife and I, novice hikers, found this trail to be as described by others as Moderate-Difficult. I call it "challenging". We were unable to finish the hike because of some snow caps that covered the trail, making it difficult to find the trail. Several other groups of hikers were in the same predicament returning unfinished at the very end (we were all so close!).
I spoke to a guy who claimed he hiked all the way to the lookout station in the past. Some of the maps are vague to wether or not the trail truly does go all the way up or if they stop short and we were unable to verify this ourselves. Maybe we reached the end and it doesn't finish but that would be weird since your so close to the lookout tower.
The trail is well laid out for the most part. A small area of blown down trees covered some of the trail midway but nothing impassable. Its very steep going up and doesn't stop until your at the top. The first mile feels the worst and it does "level off" though, it never really does. Your mind and body will be happy for how "level" it feels later in the hike. ;)
There are no water sources, its very dry right now. Bring plenty of water for you and your pets! There is adequate canopy and shade for dogs, which are allowed. Parking is free (no adventure pass required) at the time of our visit. Check with the forrest service for current conditions.
The description above says its closed Jan-May but this may be conditional. Currently it was open (check FS website for current trail closures).
The entire trip took us 5 hrs with a stop for lunch midway. The first 4 hrs of the hike were all uphill. This including a lengthy lunch stop. Upon turning back, it took only 1 hour to hike down the hill just to give you an idea of how steep it is. Again, we are novice hikers so it may be shorter for some.
All in all, Its a pretty quiet trail. Ran into about a 14 people on a very pleasant Sunday. Id hazard to say that maybe 10 made it to the end. The last 4 I saw were starting the trail at 4pm and were ill equipped to go all the way, I suspect they turned around quickly.
just an update to me last post. the rangers map rates this trail as strenuous. I knew my legs weren't deceiving me. lol. Great hike but pace yourself.
wow, what a trail. today's hike was excellent. However, I would not rate it moderate; I would lean more towards difficult. hiked mt baldy two months ago and I found this more difficult. impressive views. take bug spray. take your walking sticks too. go for it and have fun- we did.
Nice hike! Not an easy climb, but there was plenty of shade! We did the hike with our three dogs so we had to take a couple long water breaks, so we made it up in a little under 3 hours. The views at the top (and on the way up) were spectacular!
No way this hike should be rated as easy. Moderate-Difficult best. The first half mile breaks you in; thereafter, it's a steady climb to the lookout point. It's manned by the forest service from May to November. The views up there and throughout are amazing. It does run hot in June/July. Next time we'll try May. Insects are a pain. This 8 mile hike to the lookout point will make you earn your stripes. Loved it!
Did this Hike on Saturday 06/20/2015. Think we jumped the gun in doing this hike. We were not expecting it to be so difficult. And the bugs were horrible! Glad we took lots of bug spray! They were literally waiting for us to get out of the car! We are novice hikers and this kicked our butts. We wanted to turn around after the first mile. We kept pushing and finished it. Will definitely hike again.
Great hike. Alltrails app along with my wife's Map My Hike, both had this at 9.75 miles and 2900' elevation gain. In talking with the only hikers we saw on the trail, they also clocked this one in at a little further than stated. Take more water than you think you need and maybe start a little earlier. We started at 10am, had sandwiches at the top and were back to the truck just before 4pm.
As relatively new hikers this one was brutal. Pretty steep almost the whole way to the lookout, it never seemed to level out. But we knew that before we started and the views from the top were WELL WORTH the beating we took. Only issue with this trail is the car camp ground located 1/4 mile from the lookout. Pretty crowded and so was the lookout. Very friendly ranger up there who told us about other hikes in the area.
Would do again.
This was a very lovely hike for an April stroll, it wasn't too hot and it wasn't too cold which was really nice! However on the way up it was pretty strenuous, it was predominantly uphill the whole way but the trail provided some really nice places to stop and rest. Plus almost the entire trail was shaded! Unfortunately there wasn't an ounce of water to be seen on the trail so make sure you have those bases covered. Since the last few years have been pretty sparse on snow and rain it wasn't a surprise. There were boat loads of lizards and squirrels but didn't see any snakes. A fair warning that this area does have rattle snakes though and great caution should be taken.
As a whole the trail was well kept, a few spots required a little searching for the path but just due to sandstone now showing a good path. The view was really nice too and it wasn't over crowded.
On July 7th I started the trail early in the morning from the parking spot right off Hwy 241.This trail and parking are free. Beware the climb was brutal for me if your an avid hiker you will be fine. If you plan to go this time of year bring plenty of water(I brought 100oz and 64 oz of Gatorade) which was more than enough. Also I suggest A Hat,Sunscreen,Good Shoes and socks,energy food and a Hiking stick would be helpful(kinda slippery on the way down). I suggest if your fairly new to hiking, dont go alone. Views are Awesome(bring a camera). Things to remember are when you get past the water tower to the campground stay on the path to the right and that will take you to the lookout. Find the American Flag which has been moved cause it was struck by lightning.ENJOY THE VIEWS!!!
Pretty awesome views all around..did end up losing the trail twice but defiantly doable to find where it continues. Defiantly bring plenty of water and enjoy the peace with nature as there seems to be very few to no people on the trail!
This is actually a really nice trail because there's a lot of shade along the trail. It's a steep trail and a workout. It's one of the trail less visited and worth checking out. There's no cost to hike or park at this trail. :)
On May 25, was a windy day. The dirt is pretty thin on this trail, if there's a lot of hikers descending, the trail will get dusty. Starting from the parking area near Hwy 243, this trail is pretty steep. Some parts of the trail level off but mostly ascending. This trail has plenty of shade from the tall shrubs and trees. At the summit area where you'll notice the ground surface will changes from sandy to rocky, the dirt composition will change as well, from fine sand to grainy where it does becomes slippery. Hiking sticks definitely recommended on the descend. Over all this trail is worth adding to the hiking list. :)
A couple warnings. First, if you happen to start this trail at the top and hike down, coming up is difficult. If you start at the bottom and you want to see the fire lookout station, hike past the water tower, through the camp ground and to the right there's a small sign pointing to the station. The actual mileage is 4.2. The average mile up about one hour. The average coming down. 25 mins. Very strenuous hike, 2800 ft climb. Lots of gnats too.
Didn't see anybody on this trail. Great views. Great workout.
Just finished this backside approach to Cowles Mtn with my hardcore badass girlfriend last weekend in the late afternoon. Ran into a Red Diamond Rattlesnake on the way back down. Exciting, a bit steeper approach last mile to top than Cowles trail. Use good hiking tread shoes to avoid slipping on return.
My 8 year old son and I did this hike on April 8 2012 Easter day. It was around 70 degrees that day with lots of sunshine. This trail is no joke making your way up, make sure to bring lots of water. It was fun hiking through the snow up towards the top, we made a small snowman and had a lot of snowball fights. The lookout tower at the top had amazing views. Hard trail but we both recommend it. Have fun.