Marion Mountain to San Jacinto is a 11.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Idyllwild, California that features a river and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October.
Full Day hike! Definitely separates the avid from the casual hikers, this is one hike you want to be acclimated for, or allow extra time to reach the peak. Calories and water count. If there's a hint of bad weather, make sure you are prepared for it with at least a windbreaker and 10 essentials. Even though I have never seen a ranger on any trail in Southern California, you need to get a permit to enter the San Jacinto Wilderness. Get it from the station in Idyllwild. If you can't get a permit for the hike, Marion Mountain Campground might be a way to sideline the 9 to 5 type restriction on permitting. If you get a campsite pass, you are supposed to be able to hike the Forest as well. You will still need a State pass for the area after about a mile and a half on the trail going up the mountain... Get both, or just stay at a campground and then get the State pass. There are several routes up San Jacinto. Most people take the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up from the desert floor and begin their journey in Long Valley. The lesser-travelled Marion Mountain trail skips the tram, beginning a few miles north of Idyllwild. It's the shortest route up Mt. San Jacinto. It's also steep, relentlessly climbing over 4,000 feet in under 6 miles.
This is one of my favorite climbs in Southern California, but this was my first attempt in the winter. Do not even think about doing this without crampons (spikes at the very least) and an ice axe. First 1,000 or so feet you can follow the trail, but at about 7.5 K feet, lots of snow and not many tracks. Don't make the mistake I did and rely on someone's GPS route without checking it. (Isn't there an unwritten law that you don't upload GPX routes if you got lost and butchered the route?). Anyway, after two nights on the mountain, I finally made it to the summit at sunrise on Sunday morning. Well worth it. But please be careful. I encountered several unstable slopes. Climbing with this much snow is nothing to take lightly. Happy summits!!!
Great trail! Gradual incline in steepness, nothing too ridiculous. Trailhead indeed was hard to find, but we used the map on this app and started at where we thought it was, and it worked out ok. It took us 4 hrs and 15 mins to get up (left at 7am) and 2.5 hrs to get down. Very windy and cold at the summit so make sure you bring the right gear. Would also recommend gloves.
A very steep, challenging, but none the less rewarding hike. This was one of the most difficult trails I have attempted so far, if not the most. You never stop climbing except for a few areas around the Little Round alley Campground. However the views from the top of San Jacinto are some of the most rewarding you will ever get. The trail is well marked for the most part but maintained moderately since it is a moderately traveled trail. You will encounter downed trees on the trail occasionally to where you need to find a way around them. Now while the hike up is really tough, honestly the hardest part is the hike down. My knee started giving out on the way down from the mountain to the point where we ended our hike almost 2 hour later than we expected. Overall an incredible hike and one I strongly recommend to those who are up for the challenge.
Great hike! But finding the trailhead was a challenge. If I were you, I'd park at the true trailhead right before marion mountain campground, and then walk up the road into the campground. There, you'll see signs pointing you to the trailhead. That may save you some wandering around (I added 3/4 of a mile to my hike because of that).
Lots of shade on the hike. Relentlessly steep all the way to Little Round Valley - a bit of a break there, and then some more climbing to the peak.
The track on the map generally follows the trail, but it's often off a bit. At one point, I thought I was off the trail because all of a sudden, water was running down the trail like a very small creek. But, that was the true trail - as I continued on, the water stopped.
Views were spectacular at the peak! Tough going down - much harder for me than going up (patellar tendonitis) - very steep and lots of big steps and rocks. Scenery was great ! Giant boulders and huge fallen trees.
They're doing some work on rerouting the trail - the machinery was making a lot of racket on this particular day. 7 1/2 hours total. 13.6 miles per my GPS. Some of that was wandering around trying to find the trailhead, and wandering a bit thinking I was off-trail.
About 4 liters of water. All in all, a great day!
Big, bad Mt. Jacinto rewards with magnificent views!
Great Hike. I would recommend an early start to beat the crowd from the tram.