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Really enjoyed this hike. Probably my favorite one I have done. But like others have said, it is at least 11 miles long. And since I am relatively clumsy, I decided to walk through the river instead of trying to cross on the rocks or downed branches/logs and walked in wet shoes and socks for most of those 11 miles. Still worth it and highly recommend it.

Did it on 11/19/18. We were planning to clockwise. Started from Manker around 10 to 10:30, then through paved wide drive road reach the split of badly bowl and fall road?. we took badly bowl. steep at beginning, slower in the middle, reach ski hub, then easier ascent. before summit, there are two strenuous ascending. On first one, the trail became really steep (>45%), with multiple possible ways, with dirt or loose graves ground. Then we were thinking it was almost summit, but one hiker told us it would take another 30-40 minutes before summit and suggested devil's backbone is a more dangerous down way. Right before summit, it was about 30 minutes 30% ascending. We arrived summit at 2pm. Since we knew sundown time was 5pm, devil's backbone is a much longer trail, our phone was out of battery, and it was our first time, we took the advise deciding coming down from badly bowl. My knees got killed. Slipping a few times per person. Yesterday was cloudy. when sun downed at 4:30, we reached the split. At 5pm, we backed to Manker flat parking lot.

Don't know how dangerous down from devil's backbone. But, down from badly bowl is asking for hammering on your knees.

11/17/18
A note about "Sugarloaf Peak" - It looks pretty and like there would be cool views, but the San Juan trail does not actually reach the top of the peak. Rather, it connects to another trail. Still satisfying. However, if you like a real climactic "I've arrived" moment at the end of your hike, this may not be the one for you.

Reaching the hike requires a turn-off of Ortega Highway, past a Fire station and about 0.4-0.6 miles along a dirt road. I drive an old, small sedan and still made it just fine--but you'll want to make sure your tires are properly inflated just in case. After the dirt, you reach a paved road again for a little ways longer and then the parking location next to the bathroom & trailhead is readily apparent.

The trail itself is nice, it's a steady incline the whole way. There are a TON of mountain bikers which poses 2 problems. 1.) The potential of getting mowed down around a blind corner 2.) The trail is significantly carved out, presumably from excessive mountain bike traffic, creating a little ravine on the trail. It's not the trail for the faint-of-ankled.

All that said, it is a beautiful trail with repeated and diverse views of the surrounding mountains, Orange County, and the Pacific. I definitely recommend, so long as you are prepared to dodge the mountain bikers.

Love it. Plan for 7 hours to the Bridge and back to parking. >11 miles not 8.9 as stated on All Trails.

Trained like mad at 20% incline on treadmill - did a couple of 11,000 vertical feet weeks and one 22,000 foot week. And then ran this with my 22 year old son. Took off at 7:11 AM, got to ranger station at 10:30 refilled water and filled out registration left the station at 10:50 and got to top at 12:20. Ouch. It was so funny, my son's hip flexers stopped working and he ran like Charlie Chaplin the last five miles. It was my I T bands that were killing. Weather was perfect. Cool and dry. Salt encrusted completely by the end. What I would do differently - take moister snacks. The cliff bars were gag dry and hard to eat while running, and test your hydration pack. Mine was leaking air by the mouth piece and so I was drinking mostly air. Had not used this in a few years and it had lost its seal. November - but far the best time to do this if it has not snowed yet.

great hike, every hiker in SoCal should do this at least once, however, it is very heavily travelled. if you enjoy some seclusion on your hikes this is not it

All incline so be ready to up hill it - it ends meeting up with several trail junctions so there are options to keep on with another trail with less incline. Beautiful views! And close to town center.

hiking
3 days ago

Beautiful longer hike, through pine forests with scattered boulders. There was plenty of shaded areas and not too hot in November. We brought layers for the top and were glad we had them. As we hiked with a child, we all made sure to bring plenty of water and snacks as well, and of course our own garbage bag.

It is easy to end up off trail if you’re not paying close attention, especially with the sometimes rocky terrain. Make sure you plan your in and out time so you have daylight for your exit. It took us just over 5 hours with a child who needed many rests on the way up, actual hiking time was closer to 4 hours and just over 1.5hrs downhill.

No dogs allowed, and MUST GET A DAY PERMIT from the ranger station before you go. They’re located right in town in Idyllwild but closed Wednesday and Thursday so plan accordingly. Easy parking along highway. Not too crowded but there were definitely a lot of enthusiasts out so you’ll cross paths now and then.

Distance is a bit inaccurate, I measured on my Apple Watch, Strava, and here, and got 7.8mi, 8.4mi and 8.0mi here respectively. We wore our hiking boots which was very much appreciated in the rocky areas but tiring compared to lighter Merrell light hiking shoes. We’re accustomed to steep hiking at Runyon (West Loop the thigh and butt burner) but found this hike tiring towards the end as we normally do a little more than 3mi in and outs, and had to stop a lot for the kid, legs were definitely getting sore by the end although the hike itself is really quite easy-moderate for the most part.

Views at the top are definitely worth it and breathtaking! Watch your step if you’re going out on the ledges and not a climber, and for the love of god and your safety don’t take selfies standing on the edges in case of loss of balance.

...pretty much what everyone else said. Yes, the first mile can be a little much but really only because you’re just getting started. Yes, the last two miles (the traverse) to Long Valley are the most difficult. Yes, the blazes (white dots) that mark the trail can be missed real easily, so definitely get the Pro version if only for this hike. Once you pass 4300’, keep going. If you turn around you’ll walk into a furnace and chances are you’ll hurt yourself more than if you just keep going up.
Take the chance to enjoy the sunrise on the way up. The views are really what make this hike so epic — enjoy them while you’re up there. When you hit the summit, take a look at the cabin but don’t be a douche and trash it. If you have extra food consider leaving it here for other hikers in emergency situations. When you’re done, have a beer. Chances are you’ve never deserved it more.

The rest is all just my technical notes, so don’t read on if you’re not interested.
Do not read the following and think that you can do what I did. It was somewhat stupid, and I’m extremely lucky NOTHING happened on my hike. I am an experienced hiker, but definitely not at such high altitudes. Maybe train a little before this one, it’s a doozy.

Unfortunately, I have a problem stopping once I start. Fortunately, I don’t know how to quit once I start. I started this hike at midnight, but had no intention of going as quickly as I did. I went through 2L of water on the way up. I hit Long Valley Ranger Station at 7:45am. Once I got there I had 3 kid-sized oatmeal bars, and a handful of jerky. I refilled my reservoir to 3L, and stretched a little.
Started towards the peak around 8, but went much slower on the second half. I hit the summit exactly at noon. I took a break in the Peak Shelter where I changed out of some of my layers, and ate some more jerky. I left a few oatmeal bars in the emergency locker...
...started down to the tram around 12:30, and went slowly, again. I ran out of water one mile from the tram, but it was shaded and just knowing I was about to finish kept me going. Hit the tram at 3:30, and then I hit the bar for a beer.

I started the hike in two wool shirts, longjohns, heavy wool socks, zip-off pants, a hoodie, gloves, and a beanie. A headlamp (the brighter the better) is an absolute if you’re hiking at night. I had my rain gear as well as a tarp in case a storm blew in suddenly. Hiking poles are a lifesaver, and maybe invest in some athletic knee braces. A wide hat and sunscreen will be used the second half of the hike and you’ll be glad for them.
I took 12 kid-sizes oatmeal bars, two big bags of jerky, a small bag of jerky, two pro-bars, and a bag of pistachios. I had 3L of half water/half Gatorade and carried two extra bottles of each with me. I seriously only had four of the oatmeal bars and didn’t even finish the small bag of jerky, but I’m glad I had more than enough in case it was needed. I killed the drinks, and wish I had taken just one extra water bottle.

If you read this far, nice. Again, don’t do what I did. Take it slow-ish. Stop every once in a while to rest your legs, and eat a little. Take goo with you if you’re like me and have a hard time eating solids while hiking. Refill at the ranger station, and use your common sense. If you get to Long Valley and you’re tired, or hurting, take the tram. It’s an awesome hike, but it’s not awesome enough to hurt yourself or risk others safety saving you.

Not an avid hiker but in good shape. This hike is no joke. Started at 2am and it was such a blessing finally seeing the ranger station after the continuous vertical slope. Did this without poles and that’s the one thing I regret not using. Bring lots or water and gel packs. Started cramping on the last vertical stretch before the ranger station. I wouldn’t recommend doing this hike unless you have trained for it. I won’t be doing this hike again for a long time!

I did this with two friends on October 26, 2018. We are all in our mid thirties. It was a bluebird day with not a cloud in the sky, and I think it was probably averaged around 40-45 degrees for the entire day. The summit was above freezing for sure when we summited at noon.

Timing:
We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Lone Pine the night before and the night after the hike. We got on the trail at 3 a.m. and summited right around noon. We started our decent at 1 p.m. and got back to the trailhead at 8 p.m. So that’s 9 hours up and 7 hours down.

Dealing with Altitude:
I live in Salt Lake City, so I have access to some elevation and did a bunch of training hikes to 11,000 feet on the weekends to get used to the altitude. The two other guys live at sea level but did their best to hike as much as they could before our attempt. We all ended up getting prescriptions for acetazolamide and starting cycling on that and 400-600 milligrams of ibuprofen every six hours starting about 12 hours before we started out. For two of us, we really had no symptoms of altitude sickness beyond very mild headaches at the top. The other guy got a pretty decent headache that subsided during our decent.

Food:
I think we all ate much less food than I thought we would. I ate two sleeves of Clif Bar Shot Bloks and took a caffeine pill on the way up (which might have contributed to an upset stomach). And I also ate 4-5 Clif Bars, some beef jerky, a pretty good-sized bag of gummy bears, and some nuts. I brought I peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I never even ate, but the other two guys ate their PB & J at the summit.

Water:
I brought four liters of liquid with me. Three liters of water and one liter of Gatorade. My doctor told me to drink a sports drink with the acetazolamide. I ended up drinking 2 liters of the water and the Gatorade and gave the rest of the water to my hiking buddies on the way down. We actually got back to the parking lot with nothing to drink between us all, which is probably not the smartest play. I did bring a filter with me though just in case things got real out there.

Gear:
We all used adjustable hiking poles. We have backup batteries for our headlamps since a good amount of the hike was in the dark. Sun lotion. I had a wide-brimmed hat for the sun. I had four layers on the top and three on my legs and was overdressed for most of the day. I was prepared for the day to be 10 degrees colder than it was. We all had microspikes, but I think I was the only one who used them.

Overall:
The 99 switchbacks might get you down, but once you top out after those, you are pretty golden. That where the trail gets super interesting and the views are ridiculous. The only thing I might do different if I did this again was to try to move a bit faster to get down before dark since spirits were running low for the last couple miles of the decent. Reach out to me if you have any questions about the hike. I’d be happy to talk about it.

35 degrees at the summit. The Devil’s Backbone was the easier trail coming down.

If you can break this up into two days do it. We day hiked it, left at 2am and back by 6pm. Super long day. Camped at Alabama Hills on the way out.

Beautiful hike, many river crossings and scenic sights. Bring lots of water and keep track of your steps because it’s easy to get lost since there’s almost not a single sign

Goes without saying, this hike is beyond intense and belongs on any serious hiker's bucket list. We did C2C in November which is a little late but there was no snow yet so we actually had a 40 - 60 degree range the whole time. Just to state the obvious - headlamps, layers, gloves and at least 6L of water/Gatorade, calories (plus emergency supplies). Super awesome hike though, beautiful scenery throughout and a huge sense of accomplishment once you finally hit that tram. Be safe!

P.S. this fortunately did not end up being the case for us, but if you end up missing the last tram at night, the ranger recommended sleeping in the bathroom of the ranger station which is heated and protected from the elements. Just throwing that out there!

Awesome, Lots of great views!

Beautiful hike, many river crossings and scenic sights. Bring lots of water and keep track of your steps because it’s easy to get lost since there’s almost not a single sign

Beautiful hike, many river crossings and scenic sights. Bring lots of water and keep track of your steps because it’s easy to get lost since there’s almost not a single sign

I underestimated this hike a bit. It is definitely harder than I thought. But depending on the trail you take it could be easier. Landslides have removed part of the old trail so you have to travel on the dried up river bed which is fine. A lot of shade. Towards the end there was a clearing for sun but it is overall shady. Lots of river crossings. Bring some good boots or waterproof shoes. Some extra socks would be good too. Lots of fun! Very beautiful. Chances to see mountain goats which I saw none. Bungee jumping at the end. Expensive! $120. Wear some good pants. Wasn’t a lot of people there. There are some camp sites there as well. Next to a shooting range too.

The vegetation, trail, and dramatic view point are all impressive. I enjoyed this better than Devil's Slide across the canyon.

Awsome hike. After the second time I did it.

Incredible hike. DO NOT TAKE OLD ARMY PASS! It is not mainted at all. Take new army pass and then follow the cairns to the summit

hiking
9 days ago

Very hard. My first high summit. I found it very steep and hard to breathe at the top and I am in good shape. The views are not great but worth doing. I liked the views about halfway up the hike better. Overall it took us about 12 hours and 22 miles. Worth doing for sure.

Side note:

Old army pass is safe. Our group mistaked old army pass for the break between the two mountains by the last lake when you reach 3 or 4 lakes in a few minutes. I absolutely do not recommend going up this. Take the real trail on old army pass and you will be safe. I was absolutely terrified. Rocks came sliding down and the sand was unstable on what may seem like a very steep trail but it is not a trail.

enjoyed this climb a lot! An plan on doing it again soon for better time now that I know the trail. pretty well beaten path, and when I went there was a good bit of water on the trail, early August, but totally with it 12hr up an down ... I can get that into the single digits though ;)

This hike is amazing. Completed back in August, make sure to leave early, because thunderstorms, snow, etc are big issues. Hiked in a group of 6, and we had such a blast. 7.5 hours up, 5.5 hours down. Beautiful trail, and so many good photo moments. Sunrise, etc.

hiking
11 days ago

Completed as a day hike 10/31/2018. Took about 6 hours up and 4.5 hours down. (avid and fit hiker, filtering breaks only) As the previous review stated, there was no snow on NAP. There was patchy snow on OAP between the last lake and the top of the pass. I had spikes ready to go but didn't use them. While an easier hike overall, the last mile of this trail before the summit is harder than any one single mile of the Mount Whitney Trail. I'll type up a proper review soon.

If you are looking for a long walk through the trees, culminating with a view up top, then this is for you. We did not see any other hikers but we did run into a few mountain bikers.

Amazing... Simply AMAZING

hiking
14 days ago

Amazing hike experienced with my five experienced hikers. Started 2:30am at the bottom in palm spring and reach to the summit by 1pm then heading down to the tram exactly 6pm to catch up our ride down. We finished 23.3 miles total. Most challenging hike so far. Stick pole is a must and good headlights. When you reach to the rangers station dont forget to refuel yourself and rest. heading to the summit is strenuous due to some thin air because of the high elevation. hydrate enough and eat energy bars will help. Recommended for advance and serious hikers.

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