Black Mountain Trail

MODERATE 48 reviews

Black Mountain Trail is a 6.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Idyllwild, California that features a great forest setting and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from July until December. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
6.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2509 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

forest

views

bugs

rocky

snow

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.

16 days ago

Incline was challenging but overall a great hike. Great view at the top.

hiking
1 month ago

Man I loved this hike.

I agree with Jesse Dunlap as far as this being on the more difficult side of moderate, but I wouldn't let that discourage anyone from attempting this hike. The amount of miles you're on the trail gaining elevation is what makes it strenuous, but the path is well structured with plenty of boulders to climb and stunning views of the Pacific and everything in between.

The main reason I did this hike, however, was to see the sequoias! They were planted by the U.S. Forest Service back in 1974 after a fire destroyed the surrounding area. It's remarkable that they're still thriving to this day, and while they haven't had centuries to grow like their cousins up north, they're still impressive in their own right. They should appear about a mile into the trail.

Keep in mind that there is poison oak and the flies can be annoying. Just be mindful and enjoy the hike!

hiking
1 month ago

This is more difficult than “moderate.” To actually arrive at the summit and fire tower, one must hike about half a mile extra uphill beyond the end of the trail as it is listed here. It is a great hike if you want to see few people. The trailhead is a quarter mile up a dirt road that runs almost parallel to the highway. There are lots of gnats on this trail even in late October!

hiking
2 months ago

Not sure if we misunderstood the directions or what, but we never found this trailhead. From the photos it appears to be at the Black Mountain campground, which apparently is 5 miles up a rutted dirt road. I had no idea about a dirt road based on the info here. GPS said we'd arrived about 5 minutes in, but there was nothing really there. We did venture up the road a good 15 minutes, but it had multiple turnoffs and no signage indicating which way to go so we turned around and went back. We love this area so it's a nice drive, luckily we don't live too far away so we may go back up another day to try it again.

camping
4 months ago

Easy access to the PCT, absolutely stunning views of Palm Springs and Los Angeles, what's not to love about this trail??

hiking
5 months ago

I absolutely love this hike!! I bring my two dogs with me.. lots of shade and also lots of bugs. Bring bug spray, and extra water even some snacks. Definitely wanna hit it early! You always have a nice breeze, but the sun rays are super strong! There are several parts where the trail disappears, pay close attention. Many of them can mislead you. You'll reach a water tower, follow around it up to the fire tower. Take the bars up to the fire tower that you can actually go in. Amazing views!! You can literally see everything.. even Catilina Island on a clear day.

5 months ago

This hike is a butt kicker, literally! My legs were screaming by the end. I would call this more of a moderate/difficult hike due to the incline. But otherwise, it's very beautiful with good shade in the morning and no obstacles. The fire tower up on the top of black mountain was so worth it. You can see every mountain range of Southern California.

I would advise to go as early as possible to avoid the heat this time of year. It was a bit brutal on the way back down. And bring lots of water!

Also, an interesting fact. Keep your eyes open for trees you wouldn't expect to see in SoCal. The forestry dept planted some sequoias in this area in the 1970s. It's quite amazing that they actually have grown and survived!

hiking
5 months ago

We did this hike on a very hot day! Not much shade at times and a whole lot of bugs! Deceptively steep. No real summit and the "end" isn't well marked so you don't feel like you made it to they top. Lots of neat scenery changes as you get higher.

hiking
Thursday, November 10, 2016

Hiked with my dog this morning. Well established trail, be prepared to climb and descend! The other reviews were right on, lots of shade, lots of bugs and varying terrain. Some sand, be careful of the rocks. Views are spectacular, bring lots of water. Parking is great, off the road up a little dirt trail. Enough for about 10 cars.

hiking
Friday, September 23, 2016

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.

hiking
Sunday, July 03, 2016

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.

hiking
Monday, February 29, 2016

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.

hiking
Sunday, August 16, 2015

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.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

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.

Monday, August 03, 2015

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!

hiking
Sunday, July 05, 2015

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!

hiking
Monday, June 22, 2015

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.

hiking
Sunday, June 07, 2015

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.

hiking
Friday, April 17, 2015

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.

hiking
Tuesday, July 08, 2014

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!!!

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