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San Jacinto Peak Loop Trail is a 18.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Idyllwild-Pine Cove, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.

Distance: 18.5 miles Elevation Gain: 5,219 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

no dogs

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.**

This is real hard.

2 days ago

I started at 9:30 and finished in 7 hrs. Go clockwise, it's a longer downhill but easier on the knees. I was jogging near the suicide rock turnoff and saw movement under me in the corner of my vision. A rattlesnake chilling on the trail tried to strike my leg as I went over it, scaring the shit out of me.

backpacking
4 days ago

Pretty challenging going up and brutal on the knees going down if you have a heavy pack. There was still water trickling in early July in several spots higher up, but nothing down low. Trail was in pretty good condition. Bring sunscreen, the trees don't provide much shade.

Awesome trail!!!! Loop made it different both ways.

hiking
20 days ago

Gorgeous hike on Tuesday! That rock scramble at the end reminded me of the Whites. Did it clockwise since I wasn’t sure if there’d def be water on Wellman/Strawberry side til I met someone at the summit who told me otherwise :) You lose the crowd (not really one anyways on a weekday) after the Suicide Rock spur, and then you fall in line with folks who are coming up from the Marion Mountain trail. Strong water at Deer Spring. Water still flowing at Wellmans. Better flow there than at Strawberry. Moved at my usual 2mph pace (with one 45 min rest at the summit, two stops to fill up water, and plenty of off trail pee breaks). 7:30a-6p 20.5 mi recorded on Strava. Also found a pretty red/metal dangle earring if someone is missing it.

Long hike. But beautiful. There is water along the way so you can take your purifier and rest while you get some water. A little buggy today, but only a few mosquitos towards the end of the day. No snow to worry about.

hiking
8 months ago

This was a pretty trail and a nice challenge as a day hike. It’s really well marked, the only part that was a little difficult to follow was the section from Little Round Valley Campground to the junction .3 miles before the peak. But as long as I kept going up, I stayed close enough on it. The boulder scrambling portion is much, much shorter than I expected. This will be a nice overnighter to plan for summer.

hiking
8 months ago

Great trail, started in the morning near 4am to avoid the sun beating as we came descended and did the loop. Great views from Salton Sea to Palm Springs and as far west as the haze allows.

hiking
9 months ago

Did the left side of the loop to the summit as an out/back route which makes it around 23 miles. About 4 hours and 40 minutes to the summit at a decent pace including occasional breaks. Trail is very well maintained and easy to follow (unlike my trip up late fall when everything above 9.5k ft. was covered in slushy snow), although best to take a GPX file of the route just in case. Gnats at lower elevations are super annoying and I envied a couple I saw wearing bug nets. Hiking poles are useful, particularly at the summit.

hiking
bugs
rocky
9 months ago

Amazing views down Wellmans. This trail was so so so long to do in one day. We like to keep a good pace for a distance like this but the trail has a lot of boulders so it felt like we were stairmastering the whole way up. And to add the the exhaust the elevation gain slowed us down too towards the top (we live at the beach so we had to sit and rest a lot). Our favorite part of the trail besides the views were the sections that were on the PCT! That trail is well planned along the mountain ridge and felt nice under the feet. Plan for a long day racing the sun and bring a bug net, the gnats are brutal in the lower elevations. The water sources listed from PCTmap.net were accurate and drinkable (we always filter).

hiking
bugs
rocky
10 months ago

I climbed Jacinto for the second time on 9/7/19 in about 9.5 hours moving time. I wanted my experience to be completely different from my last trek up this mountain, so I began the hike just before 1am, taking only 3-4 five-minute breaks on the way up, and made it to the summit at exactly 6 am (just about 5 hours moving time). We watched the sun rise over Palm Springs at 6:22am, chugged a celebratory beer, and made our way back down. We went counter-clockwise so that we could be on the east side of the mountain as the sun rose. It was incredible to see the sky begin lighting up as we finished the last stretch of the ascent. We began our descent around 6:45, going down the west side of the mountain. I definitely recommend hiking poles - my partner did not have any, so we moved pretty slowly down some of the steep and rocky parts. Made it back to our car from the peak after 4:30 of moving time with a few short breaks on the way down. And just to echo what everyone else has said about mileage, AllTrails is definitely wrong. Based on signage and my phone's tracking system, it's somewhere between 18-19 miles. Overall, the views from the top are some of my favorite of any mountain I've been on in SoCal. The two times I've done this trail, it never really felt like the views on the way up were that spectacular, but the summit is so worth it.

hiking
bugs
10 months ago

This is a beautiful trail - we went clockwise which means ascending through forest and shade and descending in the afternoon sun on the more exposed eastern side of the loop. The 1.5m section of the Pacific Crest Trail just after Wellman's Cienega offers spectacular views of the mountains and forests sweeping down towards Iydllwild in the valley. I clocked 19.8miles and my GPS appeared synched to the trails signs so I think this is a pretty accurate reading. After closing the loop at Strawberry Junction, with 15.6miles behind you the last 4.2miles down the lollypop stick goes on a long time and persistent bugs don't help. Bring bug spray. My "natural" citronella bug spray had no effect.

hiking
bugs
10 months ago

Absolutely beautiful hike. Gorgeous high sierras terrain and tons of wildflowers even in August! However be aware the loop is 20 miles not 16 as AllTrails states. I didn’t check AllTrails info (my bad) and ended up doing the last 4.5 miles in the dark. I’d recommend bringing bug spray and hiking the loop counterclockwise if you start in the morning so you can watch the sunset as you’re going back!

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
scramble
10 months ago

We did the counter clockwise route, starting at 2:30pm. Doing the first half in light and the second half at night. Bugs! That is why its 4 stars instead of 5. There are A LOT of bugs, swarms of them. Wear bug spray. Our Garmin put the hike at 19.5. The trail also posts that it is 20 miles not the 16.6 that All Trails claims. The hike itself is beautiful and tough but not overly strenuous. A lot of flat and downhill grades on the way up to give you breaks from the grind. The views are stunning on the dessert side. Seeing sunset over the dessert was breathtaking. We could see the moon reflecting in the Salton Sea. We could also see the shadow San Jacinto casts over Palm Springs. It was a magnificent and an inspiring site. Doing it as a night hike did have severe disadvantages. It took us over 11 hours to loop. Plus, the scramble to the top was very difficult and kind of scary with limited light. It was easier to get down then I thought it would be on our way up. We summited a little after 9pm. It feels like you are on top of the world as its more of a point than most mountain tops. Idyllwild is also a great little town to start your hike in. Higher Ground coffee is great and we got sandwiches at the grocery store that were delish on the hike. A little pricey, but to be expected in a small tourist town. If it weren't for the bugs, it would be a 5. Also, All Trails should update the distance to be more accurate.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
11 months ago

We took the route counter-clockwise avoiding the very popular with day-hikers section until the next morning. Crossing from Strawberry Junction to Wellman's Divide, we saw very few people. Nothing compared to the amount of people on Deer Springs the following day. We also took a few detours for fun, a trip to Suicide Rock and a Trip to Hidden Lake/Desert view (need to get a day permit in advance or you will be fined an insane amount so make sure to do that at the ranger station). 31 miles with the detours and this was my first backpacking trip, it's challenging, but entirely doable if you turn off the whiny part of your brain. You'll head north and the trail is very easy to follow since it's popular with day-hikers heading to Suicide Rock. Most people don't bother visiting this slight detour on their way to the summit and that's a shame because it's cool as hell. You'll be seeing these rock formations all the rest of the day as you climb, why not sit on one of them too? I vote you visit Suicide Rock, but hey if you're tired, you're tired. Crossing from Strawberry to Wellman's the cienegas are lush and covered in butterflies and the springs at Wellman's Cienegas are flowing well enough to refill bottles if necessary. If you start early and you're in anywhere near decent shape, you'll get to Round Valley with more than enough time to set up camp and detour over to the tram area to soak in the some of the desert views that you missed all day while meandering through the So-Calpine. Get yourself a good nights rest and wake up early to make it to the summit before anybody else does. You don't necessarily need to be alone at the summit to enjoy it, but I can guarantee you'll want to be there well before the Tram-ites show up. There's no snow left on the mountain, but there are so many amazing springs and little streams all over, especially on Deer Springs. And butterflies. And meadows. Wildflowers are blooming like crazy. Little Round Valley is incredible right now. There's really no way around it besides waking up early, but the closer you get to the parking lot at the end of the day, the hotter it gets so despite it being "easier" because it's downhill, those last miles are brutal and I hated them. Palm Springs hit over 120 degrees F and it certainly felt warm even up in Idyllwild, hitting near 90 as we completed our descent. I would implore everybody looking to "bag" San Jac seriously consider this loop because it really is the most scenic and incredible hike especially with the detours since for most of that Wellman connector you'll be looking down at the canyon framed by Suicide Rock and Tahquitz, it's fun to get that view from a different angle on the way up by visiting Suicide Rock to look at Tahquitz head on. So neat to compare how different these rocks look from different vantage points.

hiking
11 months ago

Started quite late around 8AM. Did the loop on the way down. Got back down around 7:25PM. It was a very long and exhausting day. Did the hike to prep for a potential hike up Mt. Whitney in September. For some reason this was a bit tougher than Gorgonio because of the heat and all the bugs.

hiking
11 months ago

This is simply hiking heaven. If you start early and think you’ll hit sunrise while 1/2-3/4 of the way to the top I’d suggest going counter clockwise so you can watch the sunrise over the desert.

hiking
11 months ago

Simply a hikers dream. Leave early. Start even earlier, I know that sounds early

hiking
bugs
rocky
11 months ago

Beautiful hike! I went with a group with a diverse range of pace/ability. We decided to go clockwise and stop at the Little Round Valley campground, with the plan to hit the summit the next day. I think this worked well for the pace of our group but if I were with a faster group I'd plan to go counter-clockwise, summit in the evening, and staying at LRV on the way back down, making for a harder 1st day and a shorter 2nd day. Also note that LRV has 6 signposted campsites ... but we felt dumb because after setting up our tents we realized that all the sites were actually a short walk away from the trail. We had not realized this and camped right along the trail. It worked out fine because it was fun chatting with the other hikers as they made their way past. Water was plentiful along the hike, it being such a wet year, and the flowers are still out in bloom. The hike was generally well-graded with switchbacks over the steep bits EXCEPT for the last 1.5mi into the LRV campground which was brutal. I would also note that for the relatively short section of the hike that is shared with hikers coming from the tram was CROWDED. We couldn't get to Wellman's Divide fast enough! We ended up descending in early afternoon which was bad timing as it had gotten HOT and there was much less shade with the sun overhead. Enjoyed our beer in Idyllwild when we finally reached the TH.

hiking
11 months ago

Did this hike in a clockwise direction. Unbelievably awesome views all the way. Started at 6, took about 10 hours total including a couple of 1/2 hour snack breaks. It is definitely longer than 16.6 miles though. My Garmin had it a 18.94 with no excursions. Bring electrolytes - it gets warm in the afternoon. Bug spray would be useful.

hiking
11 months ago

Wow.

hiking
Sun May 05 2019

Day hiked this trail on 5/4. Started at 5:30am to beat the heat and I was very glad I took the early start. Bring trekking poles and micro spikes!!! The west side on the ascent is solid snow and easy to maneuver, the descent on the east side especially when the afternoon sun hits is SLUSH. The views were spectacular the entire hike, and I recommend following the GPS guide for this trail, you will lose parts of the trail in the snow for the last mile ascent. All in all, the trail was perfect for a challenging hike. 12/10 would do again!

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