Black Mountain Trail

HARD 60 reviews

Black Mountain Trail is a 6.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Idyllwild, California that features a great forest setting and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from July until December. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

6.6 miles
2,470 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly







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.

29 days ago

Fantastic hike. I was looking for a physical challenge and this trail delivered. No need to repeat what everyone's already said, I just have a couple of things to add.
1. I used the in-app "Directions" arrow icon + Google Maps which took me directly to the trailhead via 243 S towards Idyllwild (from the Banning area). The only error was Google saying the trailhead was on my right/west-ish when it was actually on my left/east-ish but it otherwise, it was on point. All you can see from 243 is a dirt road heading kind of south-east up the mountain. There is a small sign saying street-legal vehicles only allowed. Follow the dirt road a few yards up to the parking lot.

2. I stopped to catch my breath at one point and heard a distinct rattle. As I instinctively jumped away I spotted a rattlesnake, rattles and all, about 2 feet away. It was the same grayish color as a lot of the sticks on the ground. I would never have known it was there had he not been so kind as to warn me!

1 month ago

July 4th 2018, great sunny day. Lot sof bugs. I didn't bring bug off :( got better up about half way. Hard but don't be scared, challenge yourself. I was able to reach the watch tower in about 2 hrs with a pack, weight only about 16 oz water and snacks. The way down is rough on the knees, take your time. I got off the trail twice on the way down. Could be just me, either way pay attention. Great views and photo ops if that's your thing at the top. Top has overnight camping for a fee. Clean, fun, steep, beautiful vegitation. Def would try again with a weighted pack!

1 month ago

Hard it is. Step and constant going up but worth it. Nice views. Has some nice shade areAs and seemed like nice afternoon. Breeze on and off to help.

4 months ago

i went on this hike with my two dogs enjoying the fresh air and the beautiful scenery. After 3.5 miles up a steep trail i reached the summit. I was relaxing with my dogs admiring the scenery along with another hiker I've met along the trail. when approached by a man and woman with too little dogs. my dogs of course curious ran up to the man and woman in a none aggressive manner ( remember this is a dog friendly trail) they begin hitting my dogs and screaming bloody murder even after I had my dogs on leashes still screaming. ruining my hike. all in all very beautiful hike.

4 months ago

Hiked 3/18/2018. Beautiful route, plenty of snow next to the trail near the summit, but the trail itself was totally clear. The trail lists 6.6 miles but only goes to where it meets the truck trail. Round trip to the summit is closer to 8 miles.

Driving in, there are TWO signs for black mountain on Highway 243, one for the truck road to the summit and one for the trailhead. Be sure to follow the FIRST sign you pass when coming from Banning. The trailhead is an immediate dead end with the parking lot. Don’t make the mistake we did of driving up the truck trail. Searching for black mountain in Google Maps will take you up the truck road.

5 months ago

Wow, this was an incredible hike! Let me start out by saying that my husband and I do a lot of hiking and I would rate this one as hard, not moderate. The SUPER steep climbing starts right at the beginning of the trail and really doesn’t let up at all until you get to the top, which happens to be about 7500 feet of altitude.

That being said, it was a beautiful hike and I would highly recommend this as long as you’re in pretty good shape! There was lots of snow during the second half of the hike, which made it a lot harder, but all the more rewarding when we got to the top. Our dog had the time of her life running around off leash the entire time (leashes aren’t required on this one) so that made us so happy.

We were also really thankful we brought our hiking poles, not only because they was really helpful in the snow, but they were necessary for descending the steep terrain.

6 months ago

Part dirt road drive and part hike to the peak.

7 months ago

Fantastic views all the way up and it’s capped off at the water tower

8 months ago

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

9 months 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!

9 months 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!

10 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.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

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

Sunday, July 09, 2017

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.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

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!

Saturday, July 01, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

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!

Monday, July 30, 2012

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.

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