San Jacinto Peak Loop Trail is a 17.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Idyllwild, CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October.
Starting from the town of Idyllwild, this trail is ideal as either a long single day out and back, or a two day with overnight camping. Little Round Valley sits just below the summit, which makes a great spot to camp before a morning summit. As an alteration, take the eastern trail back down which crosses Wellman's Divide and then loops back to Strawberry Junction, making for a longer overall hike. While there is strong elevation gain and snow/ice in the colder months, this trail is very manageable, and great strength training for bigger climbs. Also shares a few miles with the PCT, be sure to say hello to the springtime thru-hikers! **Please note campsites, such as Little Round Valley, require a permit. These fill up fast in the summer so call ahead for availability. To request and obtain a permit, applications must be submitted 10-14 days in advance by mail. If you haven't done so, permits can also be obtained as a walk-in from the State Park Office in Idyllwild, but this is not a guarantee of availability.**
Had a phenomenal hike here this past weekend with a group of friends. We based out of Idyllwild Campground, which was great to not be driving to and from Idyllwild the morning of/after our hike. The first day we gained Little Round Valley campsite in around 5 hours. Plenty of time to cook dinner and catch the sunset. Nighttime was very cold, be prepared for high winds and cold temperatures, especially in spring/winter months. We camped at site #1, which fortunately had lots of bare ground, which we gladly shared with other campers who found the other sites covered in snow.
The next morning hiked the remaining 1.5 miles to the summit. Beautiful cloudless conditions, and great views of Gorgonio. Descended to LRV to pack up camp and descend to Idyllwild. Total time down was about 4 hours, it's a very forgiving descent, and you can really cover ground quickly here, especially once past the snow.
Technically not very challenging, beyond the unrelenting climb/descent. While we did encounter snow, crampons were not necessary at the time we did. Under colder/wetter conditions, I would highly recommend them however. Deer Spring, about a mile before Little Round Valley was flowing well, and can be used to filter and resupply water if needed.