Distance (round-trip)

18.3 mi

Time

12 hrs

Elevation Gain

5600 ft

Season

Spring
Summer
Fall

Weather

In just about every account of hiking at Mt. San Jacinto, there is always a mention of John Muir’s quote that the view from San Jacinto is “the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this Earth.” While it’s hard to deny that Muir was engaging in hyperbole with this statement, it is true that Mt. San Jacinto features some striking superlatives that other peaks in the lower half of the state cannot match. Mt. San Jacinto is unrivaled in terms of prominence, which characterizes the distance between a mountain’s summit and the lowest contour line surrounding it. Mt. San Jacinto has a prominence of 8,839’, which places it among the most severe in the world. As anybody who has taken the tram up to Mountain Station can attest, the mountain’s northern slope is spectacularly steep. From its base in San Gorgonio Pass to its summit, San Jacinto rises over 10,000’ in a little under 7 horizontal miles.

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Summit sign

Mt. San Jacinto, and its sister peak, Mt. San Gorgonio, stare at each other across a startlingly deep valley formed by the San Andreas Fault. These two mountain ranges were created when the Pacific Plate, grinding northwest, rammed into a west-east bend in the North American plate. This tectonic collision contributed to the creation of the Transverse Ranges (a rare west-east oriented set of mountains) of Southern California, including the San Bernadino, San Gabriel, Santa Susana, Santa Monica, San Emigdo, and San Rafael Mountain Ranges. The same collision caused the San Jacinto Mountains to “pile up” to a remarkable height relative to the nearby coastal and desert areas. If one calculates the distance from the summit of Mt. San Jacinto to the Salton Sea’s regional-low elevation of 226’ below sea level, you have a difference of 11,060’.

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Mt. San Antonio (Baldy) as an island in a sea of clouds

If that’s not enough to support John Muir’s hyperbole, one can also consider that San Jacinto features a subalpine wilderness in view of the Pacific Ocean. Or, there’s the fact that the views can reach southern Utah on a clear day. Or perhaps, there’s the fact that every major mountain range in Southern California is visible within a 150 mile radius when the skies are clear. At any rate, the views here are Good, with a capital “G.” Whether Muir is right or not, Mt. San Jacinto is, debatably, the premier hiking spot in all of Southern California.

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The Pacific Crest Trail

This write-up describes a strenuous and comprehensive loop that is best taken as an overnight backpacking trip. However, as there are five separate ways aside from the tram to reach the summit, and all of them join the loop described here, I will also provide starting coordinates for alternative trailheads more suitable for dayhiking and brief descriptions at the end of this article to allow different options that will allow you to enjoy portions of the loop at the heart of both the State Park and this write-up.

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Mt. San Gorgonio from the Deer Springs Trail

Permits are required to enter both the State Park and National Forest sections of Mt. San Jacinto Wilderness. Both agencies work cooperatively, and a day hiking permit for one is good for the other. However, backcountry permits are different, as the State Park places more restrictions on its campsites, which are established instead of the more liberal “camp where it’s flat, but away from the water” policies of the National Forest. The State Park has developed campgrounds at Strawberry Junction, Little Round Valley, Round Valley, and Tamarack Valley, and each campground has established sites with quaint names such as “Owl’s Hooch” and “Junco Flats.” To camp at the State Park campgrounds, one can either secure a walk-up permit at the Long Valley Ranger Station near Mountain Station or at the State Park headquarters in Idyllwild.

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Lodgepole forest near Little Round Valley

For a weekend excursion, I recommend securing your permit in advance via fax or mail. The State Park charges $5, per person, per night, to camp in one of the campgrounds. Furthermore, the permits are only accepted up to 56 days (eight weeks) in advance of your trip, so you will need to time your permit submission carefully. Additionally, you should know to send a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) to the State Park. They won’t send your permit otherwise, and they probably won’t call you to let you know that it’s sitting there waiting for you. Once you secure your permit, you are ready to go.

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Mountain Station

This track begins and ends at the Deer Springs Trailhead just west of Idyllwild on Highway 243. Deer Springs starts in the most varied part of the San Jacinto Forest, which features black oaks, tree-sized manzanitas, canyon live oaks, incense cedars, sugar, Jeffrey, and ponderosa pines, and white firs. The trail starts up the fairly exposed slope of the western ridge forming the large “bowl” within which sits the town of Idyllwild. Given the presence of a number of black oaks, the Deer Springs Trail, at least to nearby Suicide Rock, would be an excellent Fall color hike in season.

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Panorama facing south from the summit

From the trailhead, the trail climbs in a meandering fashion up the slope as the forest undergoes a number of pleasant transitions. In some patches, vanilla-scented Jeffrey pines dominate and provide welcome shade. In other sections, numerous granitic boulders emerge and provide scenes reminiscent of the Sierra Nevadas. At still others, views will open up eastward toward Tahquitz and the Desert Divide with the town of Idyllwild below. As pleasant as the Deer Springs Trail can be, its basic function here is to connect to the main loop formed by the PCT, Wellmans Divide Trail, and the portion of the Deer Springs Trail connecting to the summit. This loop features the highlights of the San Jacinto high country, as well as the campsites, water, and the best views.

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Jeffrey pines on the Deer Springs Trail

At 4.3 miles, the Deer Springs Trail junctions with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at Strawberry Junction, which features a small and dry camp with good views to the south. This trail camp is commonly frequented by PCT through-hikers from late April to the end of May, but its lack of water makes it less than ideal unless you don’t have the desire to continue on the next 4.8 miles of hard climbing to the summit.

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Near Strawberry Junction

After joining the PCT, the trail passes around the cooler, shadier west face of the mountain. As it receives less sun exposure, snow tends to accumulate deeper and linger longer on this side This means the west side of the mountain tends to supports a denser forest with taller trees. Many of the mountain’s streams are present on this side as well, which means you will encounter at least one, but possibly two reliable water sources on the way to the summit. In the meantime, enjoy the dense forest of Jeffrey pine and white fir as it gradually begins to include lodgepole pines that will stay with you to the summit, where they will attain fantastic, contorted shapes.

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Desert Divide lost in the marine layer

The trail comes to and crosses a spring-fed stream that is flowing only modestly after a very dry winter, but would flow more robustly during average or above-average precipitation years. Not long after this stream comes a junction of three distinct trails. The first of the two, the Marion Mountain and the Seven Pines Trails, climb the mountain’s west slope from campgrounds a short drive off of Highway 243. These camps are located a good 2,000-2,500’ feet below this point, making both the Marion Mountain and Seven Pines Trail steep and difficult. Difficult though they both are, either trailhead presents a good opportunity for people looking to climb San Jacinto from an alternative to the tram but without hiking 20+ miles.

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Sunset from above Little Round Valley

After passing this junction and possibly falling into conversation with PCT hikers or other hikers catching their breath from Marion and Seven Pines, you will come to another junction where the PCT diverts off to the left for its knee-murdering descent of Fuller Ridge. Keeping to the right will maintain the correct course to the summit. After this junction, the trail winds up through a sunny patch of buckthorn and chinquapin that opens up a marvelous view toward Mt. San Gorgonio with the rest of coastal Southern California either laid out below your feet or shrouded in marine layer.

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Mt. San Gorgonio from the summit

After this point, the last remaining white firs and Jeffrey pines give way to a thick forest comprised mainly of lodgepole with a few limber pines emerging at the higher elevations. The trail climbs ever upward before coming to another spring-fed creek around 9,440’, which is your most reliable and robust source of water before coming to Little Round Valley. After tanking up, it’s a relatively brief .5 mile up to Little Round Valley, where six campsites are scattered within the now bouldery and dense forest. At times, there is a creek running through Little Round Valley, although it is bone dry in dryer years or later in the Summer and should not be counted on. Once you select a campsite (they are all pretty good), you can prepare to hunker down for the night, or you can set up camp and prepare yourself for the 1.6 mile, 1,000’ foot assault on the summit.

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The summit

The climb up to the summit can be dangerously deceptive if there is a lot of snow as the trail can vanish under snow pack. My first experience on San Jacinto fell prey to this trap as I lost the trail and scrambled up a hill, only to find that I had climbed nearby Jean Peak, which is a half a mile away from San Jacinto’s summit. However, a snow-free trail is easy enough to follow, although rocky footing will require some concentration.

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Looking west from the summit

After what seems like an incongruently long climb compared to its distance between summit and Little Round Valley, the trail begins to flatten out at a saddle, where it junctions with a trail to the summit and the trail down to Wellmans Divide. Choosing the summit trail off to the left, you will climb up a slope on which separate use trails appear to diverge and re-emerge. This may cause a bit of confusion. However, if you keep going uphill on anything resembling an established trail, you will eventually come to Mt. San Jacinto’s emergency hut, which was built in the 1930’s and remains sparsely maintained by the State Park both for emergency use and for its historical importance. Not only is the hut a hard-to-miss landmark indicating proximity to the summit, it is also a nice place to stop and catch your breath. As a sign warns on the outside, the cabin is colder than a decent tent would be. Tempting as it is, it is not great for camping.

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Late evening clouds

From the hut, make your way along a use trail until it vanishes at a large pile of rocks. This is the base of the summit, and from here you will have to pick your way carefully over the rocks to make it to the top. Soon, you’ll see the sign indicating the presence of the summit, as well as the actual summit itself atop a granite boulder. From here, the views are superlative, and, when clear, they include nearly all of Southern California from the coast to the desert. If it’s clear enough, the views are said to reach as far off as Utah and Arizona, although you’d likely have to climb the peak on a full-blown Santa Ana day to experience this kind of clarity. Even so, the shocking view down to the quilt of golf courses and housing developments in the Coachella Valley, coupled with the Desert Divide snaking its way south and San Gorgonio looming across the chasm of Gorgonio Pass make for a breath-taking view in both the figurative and literal senses.

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Above Little Round Valley

After you’ve taken your fill of these preposterous views, you will carefully pick your way back down the boulders, onto the use trail, past the hut, and down to the junction with the Wellmans Divide Trail. Turning left, you will begin a long, leisurely descent down the mountain’s eastern shoulder that will lead you to Wellmans Divide. Down below, you’ll see the meadow at Round Valley, which looks tiny from this height, as well as the Tram Station. The views over the Coachella Valley and Desert Divide stay with you for a long time, and the relatively gentle descent makes this an enjoyable stretch of trail. The trail will bottom out at a sheltered grove of lodgepole pines that holds snow late in season before coming around a bend to reach Wellmans Divide.

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Wellmans Divide Panorama

Wellmans Divide is another major junction on the mountain that opens up a number of options. From here, a trail will take you to the Tram Station as well as all the way down to Palm Springs on the Cactus-to-Clouds Trail. Wellmans Divide is also a great place to stop and take a break while enjoying views that opens up to the south, encompassing Tahquitz Valley and Peak. If you look at the forest in this gently sloping valley, you’re likely to see some burnt conifer crowns among the otherwise uniformly green forest. These burnt trees are visible evidence of last year’s nearly catastrophic Mountain Fire, which threatened the town of Idyllwild, and might have burnt more of the forest had a freak July rain storm not saved the day.

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Skunk Cabbage CORN LILY at Wellmans Cienega

The trail from here continues to descend along more open hillsides. After another bend, the trail will wrap around to a gorgeous hillside meadow, complete with a small complex of trickling springs. This is Wellmans Cienega. Angelenos may be familiar with the word “Cienega,” which is eponymous with a major thoroughfare. Cienega describes a swampy marsh, which is clear at this spot, but not so much in Los Angeles anymore. This is also your last reliable spot to tank up on water if you drank your fill going up and down the summit.

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Tahquitz Peak

After the cienega, the trail continues its gradual downward slope before arriving at the PCT Junction along with the boundary for the National Forest. This will be the first time setting foot on National Forest land through this hike, and you will temporarily remain on Forest Property until returning to Strawberry Junction. You will take the right on the PCT heading toward Strawberry Junction. After climbing up a brief slope to a saddle, you will be welcomed by views of your return trip back down the mountain. Idyllwild lies nestled in its “bowl” as Tahquitz Peak and Lily Rock dominate the ridge advancing to the south. The segment of PCT you are now traveling on will hug the “bowl’s” north end as it approaches and passes Strawberry Cienega. This cienega is not as reliable of a water supply as Wellmans, although you can expect to see some water seepage keeping the mosses and ferns alive.

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Strawberry Cienega Panorama

The PCT on this stretch is immensely enjoyable, even if you might be getting a little tired and footsore at this point. The trail will hug the side of the cliff, providing great views to the south. Eventually, the trail will pass up and over a low saddle and then past a rocky, open spot that it popular with the thru-hikers. This camping area is also dry, but the views are quite good. Continue on, and you soon rejoin the Deer Springs Trail at Strawberry Junction, completing the loop around Mt. San Jacinto and re-entering the State Park.

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Subalpine sunset

From here, you will retrace your steps back down the Deer Springs Trail until you reach the trailhead. If you have the energy and inclination left after a really long hike, you can take the 1 mile spur trail to Suicide Rock, which enjoys an interesting perch and view over Idyllwild. However, if you find yourself tired and footsore, your best bet is to continue slowly and deliberately back down the trail. Re-tracing the Deer Springs Trail is a little a tedious, especially when you know you still have nearly 4.5 miles from Strawberry Junction. However, you’ll get back to the car eventually, at which point you can kick off your shoes and relish your accomplishment.

Alternate Trailheads:

Note: I highly recommend purchasing the Tom Harrison map for this region should you attempt any of the following alternatives.

1. Mountain Station: 33.837269, -116.614001. The classic and most popular way to reach the summit. Please refer to Casey’s excellent summary for more information.

2. Marion Mountain Trail: 33.791200, -116.735482. Departing from the Marion Mountain Campground, the Marion Mountain Trail makes its grueling way up the west slope of Mt. San Jacinto before junctioning with the PCT just before Deer Springs. Approximately 12 Miles, with 4,800′ of gain

3. Seven Pines Trail: 33.809740, -116.734179. Departing from the Azalea Trail (Forest Route 4S02), the Seven Pines Trail ascends the west side of San Jacinto, crossing the fledgling San Jacinto River, before joining with the PCT just before Deer Springs. Approximately 14 Miles, 4,400′.

4. Devils Slide Trail: 33.764647, -116.686050. Departs from Humber Park and climbs up the northernmost segment of the Desert Divide, just north of Tahquitz Peak. At Saddle Junction, Devils Slide merges with the PCT, which splits off toward Wellmans Divide and the summit. Approximately 16 miles, with 4,200′ of gain.

Scott is an L.A. native and San Diego transplant who pulls every trick in the book to get out on the trail. His first book, a revision of Afoot and Afield San Diego County, is now out.

Camping

Shade

Views / Vista

Water Features

48 Comments

Libby

Libby Jul 5, 2017 12:07

Thank you Scott. I'll report back next week either way.

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner Jul 1, 2017 07:07In reply to: Libby

I've got some friends up there now. I'll check in when they get back. I am confident that Wellmans Cienega has water. Too much snow this year not to be some water there. Strawberry Cienega is probably a toss-up.

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Libby Jun 30, 2017 20:06

Does anyone have any intel about water sources from summit back down via Wellman's/Strawberry?
Thanks in advance!

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner Sep 5, 2016 19:09In reply to: Heidi

Weather in October in SoCal is a pretty mixed bag. It can be 80 with Santa Ana winds, or it can drop a foot of snow. You'll want to keep checking the weather as a cold storm on San Jacinto would be pretty dangerous. As a Midwesterner, you may be used to the cold, but the trails also get really hard to follow when buried under snow.

As far as fitness, this is a pretty tough hike. I did this in two days when I scouted the route, but I had spent a lot of time on difficult trails before hand so I was ready. Since everybody has a different level of fitness and stamina, I can't really predict how you'll handle it, but at least one, preferably two training hikes on tough, steep terrain before hand would be a good way to assess your readiness.

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Heidi Sep 4, 2016 22:09

I am planning to hike to MSJ from Devil's Slide in mid-October. I am trying to figure out if I can accomplish this with only 1 overnight (my fitness is mid-range. I hike, but I am from the midwest, so let's face it, the hikes are not challenging). Also, I am trying to figure out what the weather will be then. Thanks! This site is the best information I have found so far on this hike.

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner Aug 8, 2016 17:08In reply to: Keith

Water and heat are going to be big issues for you. This is often the hottest and driest part of the year in San Diego County. The desert sections of the PCT (Fages Monument to Barrel Springs) will likely be in triple digits, and there will be very little water along the way. Even the usual water sources like Agua Caliente Creek may be dry.

My advice would be to try this section in March or April when the entire area is at its best.

I'm not sure how many Uber drivers are in the Julian/Shelter Valley area. I would not rely on it for transportation.

The section from 10 miles north of Highway 74 and Red Tahquitz is still closed.

The two water sources I mention in the article can be found on the PCT north toward Round Valley, although they will likely be dry in September

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Keith Aug 8, 2016 14:08

Hello, friends. My trail name is "Beans." I've done the southern fifth of the AT from the approach to Springer to Damascus, VA.
I'm thinking about Campo to Mt. San Jacinto in September... any advice? I'm 50, in decent shape, but I've never been to the PCT. ANY and ALL advice is most appreciated!
In the "hot spots" is it feasible to Uber when crossing roads to gas stations to buy a couple of gallons of water?
Are the rivers/creeks/mountain springs/pipes between the summit of MSJ and the Palm Springs Tram?
Thank you very, very much.
Hike On!

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Andrew Jul 24, 2016 14:07In reply to: Andrew

*flowing water sources; nothing particular to do with flowers :)

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Andrew Jul 24, 2016 14:07

To echo what Winifred said, water sources are scarce on the mountain. I hiked this route last weekend (7/16-17), and the only flower water sources on the entire loop are three small springs / creeks in the mile of trail between the PCT junction and Little Round Valley. Wellman Cienega, though very green, has no reliable water source, and Strawberry Cienega was even dryer... made for a bit of an unpleasant surprise, but my companions and I survived.

Thanks for the great trip report! The hike was fantastic.

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winifred Jul 5, 2016 19:07

Just FYI for anyone planning a visit up soon, there's no reliable water source anywhere on the eastern side of the mountain. The only one I saw that has steady flow is from a stream (not sure what it's called specifically) ~1 mile south of Little Round Valley campground.

BTW, thanks so much for writing this blog. I based my group's backpacking trip off of information that you've written, and it was super helpful in my planning! Ended up doing a 2 night trip from Humber Park via Devil's Slide Trail and camping at LRV and Strawberry Junction. Probably too difficult for the group (and me) that I was with, but the views were spectacular and made my July 4th weekend very memorable and all the more worthwhile!

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Casey Schreiner Jun 17, 2016 09:06In reply to: dora

We incorporate corrections into our write-ups as quickly as possible, but please kindly remember that this site is run by and cared for by actual human beings who have essentially been providing this hiking material on a volunteer basis.

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner Jun 16, 2016 21:06In reply to: dora

Or perhaps not.

Burpy site database = I'll fix it tomorrow.

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner Jun 16, 2016 21:06In reply to: dora

Why do I feel like a schoolboy who forgot to turn in his homework right now? ; )

I made the correction. Thanks for the reminder.

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner Jun 16, 2016 21:06In reply to: Mike Anderson

Yep! It's a popular place, and permits go fast.

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Mike Anderson Jun 13, 2016 21:06

Hello, I'm planning on doing a day hike as a warm up for a Sierra backpacking trip. We're targeting Saturday, June 25. Would you recommend we apply for a permit in advance?

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dora Jun 11, 2016 19:06In reply to: Scott Turner

Right, it's corn lily, an important CA native plant. Where's your correction?

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner May 13, 2016 22:05In reply to: Joseph Gregory

Thanks for the correction.

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Joseph Gregory May 13, 2016 08:05

Great article! Looking to follow it on Sat!

Note: The plant pictured is the corn lily (V. californicum), not skunk cabbage.

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Arturo Besser Apr 27, 2016 09:04In reply to: Scott Turner

Hi Scott, I called the ranger today and he said there are outhouses at the campgrounds - but I'll bring a shovel just in case...

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner Apr 26, 2016 18:04In reply to: Arturo Besser

There's a spring in Round Valley that they've improved. It comes out of a spigot. You can find it at the junction where the trail leads off to Tamarack Campground. I actually don't know about the bathrooms. I don't think they have them. Bring a shovel.

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Arturo Besser Apr 26, 2016 10:04In reply to: Scott Turner

Hi Scott, thank you for your feedback. Little Round Valley seems a bit far for us this time but I'll consider Round Valley - just curious, what is the water source at Round Valley? Is there a water source at Tamarack Valley? Are there outhouses at Tamarack or Round Valley?

I don't have permits yet because I'm still too far out, but I do have all the information for it.

Thank you again,

Arturo

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner Apr 25, 2016 20:04In reply to: Arturo Besser

Hi Arturo. This sounds like a fine approach to the mountain, especially considering that you are new to backpacking. The rest of the routes to the top are pretty strenuous, which you may not enjoy with a 14-year old first time backpacker. Tamarack Valley is a fine option for camping, although my personal favorite is Little Round Valley. Keep in mind that Little Round Valley does not have a reliable water source, whereas Round Valley has a reliable water source that's easier to access. Also, I hope you've already arranged your permits.

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Arturo Besser Apr 25, 2016 16:04

Hello. I'm planning a backpacking trip with my 14 year old son this summer and neither one of us have backpacked before (only car camping). I was planning on taking the tram up on a Friday afternoon and setting up camp at Tamarack Valley. On Saturday morning we can hike to the peak and spending another night at Tamarack before packing up and heading back down on Sunday morning. Is there a better option of where to start or a better option of where to camp? Thank you, I look forward to your feedback.

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner Aug 26, 2015 17:08In reply to: Michele

Awesome! I'm pleasantly surprised that it was flowing. I feared it would be bone dry. Sorry to hear about the gear malfunctions though; hopefully you enjoyed what hiking you could get in before the bladder broke.

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Michele Aug 24, 2015 22:08

We did the first half of this route this past weekend - camped at LRV and summited on Day 2. The stream you mention in this writeup (approx. 0.5 mi from Little Round Valley) is flowing well. Unfortunately we couldn't complete the loop because of gear malfunctions (bladder leaked leaving someone in our group with only 0.5L of water) and opted to backtrack the same way we came up. We met a couple of people at the summit that told us Wellman's Cienega was dry. Great writeup and great route. Def a difficult one, though.

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Mai-Yan Aug 12, 2015 14:08

I was there this Saturday 8/8. Unfortunately, the iconic sign at the summit was stolen. It's just a sad wooden post up there until the sign is replaced...

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Michele Aug 10, 2015 11:08In reply to: Scott Turner

Thx Scott. The rangers tell me everything is pretty much dry, but to try the north fork of the San Jacinto River where it meets the PCT (about a mile from Little Round Valley).

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner Aug 10, 2015 10:08In reply to: Michele

So, I didn't make it. : / I had every intention, but there was a lot going on last week. Word is, the springs are currently dry, so I wouldn't count on there being any water up there. I'm still trying to find a time to make it up, but I don't know when that will be.

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Michele Aug 5, 2015 14:08In reply to: Scott Turner

Thank you Scott :) Hope you make it!

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner Aug 4, 2015 21:08In reply to: Michele

Well, in a normal year, I'd say yes. After 4 years of drought, I don't think we can call it reliable. I used to know of a site that had updates on water resources on the mountain that was updated by hikers, but I can't find it anymore. Tell you what though; I'm planning to hike MSJ on Thursday via the Seven Pines Trails. If I make it, I'll come back and give you a visual update.

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Michele Aug 4, 2015 16:08

Does anyone know if the water source near Little Round Valley is reliable?

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner Jun 14, 2015 20:06In reply to: Audra Baecker

Glad you made it. That's a hell of a dayhike. That sections between LRV and the summit can be a real pain in the neck. The first time I tried it, I lost the trail in the snow and ended up summiting on Jean Peak about a mile away. Much harder than coming up from the other side of the mountain.

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Audra Baecker May 28, 2015 21:05In reply to: Scott Turner

Hey! thanks for reply! I completed the hike today, I started at Deer Springs parking area at 930am, Summited at 2pm. My pack was 10 pounds, packed 2 liters of water, 1 red bull, bag of blue berries, bag of cherries, 1 small banana and a stinger pomegranate flavor honey fuel and a kellogs whole grain strawberry bar. Oh, and a small bag of organic popcorn. Change of clothes, pants and lightweight jacket, but stayed in shorts and tank top the entire way. Had gorgeous weather entire hike. I arrived at the parking area at 530 pm. I used my cardiotrainer GPS to track my distance, calories and time. I'm 48 and 118 pounds, I burned 2,648 calories and covered 18.2 miles. made excellent time on the way down. The distance from little round valley to the summit had me crying, literally in tears asking out loud, where's the f'ing emergency hut! I navigated off trail on that 1.3 stretch as it became really difficult to see the trail in several spots along that way. Cried again at the summit, just because it's beyond amazing. I'm super thrilled with my time and I'm glad I did it!

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner May 26, 2015 15:05In reply to: Bob Ashton

Hey Bob, I did the same thing for training last year for the JMT. I did this loop route, plus I schlepped my stuff all the way to the summit of San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek (we'll have a write-up on that soon). We are damn lucky to have those mountains. Thanks for the kind words on our write-up.

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner May 26, 2015 14:05In reply to: Audra Baecker

Hi Audra,

No, that's probably not sufficient conditioning to hike this entire route in one day, although I must admit that I don't know your general fitness, conditioning, etc. As a day hike, this would be extremely difficult, and it would probably take 12 hours without stops. With stops, I'd expect it to be closer to 14 hours. If you wish to day hike San Jacinto, it might be a little easier on the body to try one of the several shorter routes, including the Marion Mountain (12 miles), Devils Slide (16 miles), Tram (11 miles), and Seven Pines Trails (12 miles). It might also be easier to complete the route as described if you substituted the Deer Springs Trail with the Marion Mountain or Seven Pines Trails, as those would both be at least 6 miles shorter (though just as steep).

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Bob Ashton May 24, 2015 18:05

Casey,
Excellent article. Yor narrative of the various sections is spot on. Yes, the views from up ther are epic indeed! Hiked San Jacinto and Mt. Gorgonio as a young boy scout. We are using our upcomong San Jacinto hike as a training hike of our trek on the John Muir Trail later this year.

Cheers!
Bob

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Audra Baecker May 23, 2015 22:05

12 hours for the day trip, did you do the same pace on the way down? Did you add sops/breaks into that time? I've done Mt. Woodson via Lake Poway, over to 67 and back with a 30 pound back pack, is that sufficient training to complete this hike as a day hike?

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Daniel May 19, 2015 15:05

Hi Scott, I plan on backpacking up to San Jacinto peak for a weekend at the end of this month with a few friends, some of which will be their first backpacking trip. Do you think starting at Humber Park trailhead and heading up the pacific crest trail from saddle junction would be a fair to moderate hike? We would probably just backtrack our way back down. I'm looking to do no more than 20 miles roundtrip. Any thoughts or suggestions?

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Scott Turner Aug 2, 2014 10:08In reply to: Christianna

Christianna, sorry I'm a little late responding. The forest is recovering, but the Forest Service still has not opened trails east of the PCT, particularly those leading east from Saddle Junction. Last I saw, the NFS scheduled those areas to re-open in November, by which time there may be snow (hopefully).

It's harder to say what water conditions are like on the mountain, especially during this record-setting drought. As Casey said, you'll want to check with the rangers. I've heard that the creek just south of Little Round Valley still has enough flow to tank up. However, you will want to confirm that with the rangers before you go because there won't be another water supply until Round Valley on the other side of the peak.

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Casey Schreiner Jul 29, 2014 17:07In reply to: Christianna

Scott hiked this very recently. He mentioned the springs were pretty dry on the nearby San Bernardinos, but the best way to get up to date water readings is to contact the ranger station. Idyllwild Ranger Station's number is (909) 382-2921, or you could try San Jacinto State Park's office at (951) 659-2607.

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Christianna Jul 29, 2014 13:07

Did you go recently? How is the state of everything after the fires last year and the drought? Are there still water sources available?

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Casey Schreiner Jun 30, 2014 13:06In reply to: wendy green

You're not the first to say that :) Glad you're enjoying the site!

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wendy green Jun 30, 2014 13:06

Love this site. Looking a bit John Muir yourself.

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Casey Schreiner Jun 15, 2014 10:06In reply to: T.J.

Thanks, TJ! Welcome to the site and let us know if there are any favorite trails we're missing!

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T.J. Jun 13, 2014 23:06

I'm new to your site.
This piece was really well done. Great job.
Looking forward to diving in here.
Thanks.

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Scott Turner

Scott Turner Jun 12, 2014 19:06

Josh, I've never seen it like that before either. That sunset was miraculous with the clouds swirling all over. Only problem was that it was windy and freezing. Hard to sit still for long.

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Casey Schreiner Jun 5, 2014 12:06In reply to: Josh

sometimes the marine layer is a beautiful thing ... even if it means you can't see anything on the ground :)

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Josh Jun 5, 2014 09:06

Beautiful photos of the summit with the sea of clouds, I have never seen it like that!

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