16 Best Idyllwild Hiking Trails for Adventure Enthusiasts

7 mins read
By: Devin McGloin

Idyllwild hiking offers the best hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a hiker’s paradise. Idyllwild provides the best place to relax among the Rocky Mountains and tall pine trees when on a fun getaway from city life.

Idyllwild is a quiet and peaceful little town nestled in the San Jacinto mountains of Southern California.

Idyllwild hiking
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One of the fantastic things about hiking is that there’s always something new to learn. Every little thing you learn, including advanced hiking skills, navigation skills, wildlife spotting, and geology, makes your hikes more fun and deepens your connection with nature.

The Idyllwild pine cove area offers a variety of trails to explore the diversity of the encircling landscape.

The area contains San Jacinto peak, southern California’s second-largest mountain after Mount San Gorgonio, and a high mountain valley bisected by a small year-round stream known as strawberry Creek.

16 Best Idyllwild Hiking Trails in California

1. Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail

It is one of the most explored trails in Idyllwild hiking which is an easy hike of 5 miles long. This scenic trail begins from 6100 ft, from Fern Valley Road, just before Humber Park. Descends 600 ft while crossing several streams along the way.

It offers an excellent academic walk for beginning botanists as there are many varieties of trees along the way. Even though there are some side trails along the way, it’s a shady straight shot with impressive biodiversity.

It would take about 2-3 hours where you can enjoy the backcountry beauty without heading to big mountains.

2. Tahquitz Peak via Devil’s Slide Trail

It’s an 8.5 miles long Idyllwild hiking trail that starts and ends in Humber Park. The hike usually takes up to four hours, and the path is considered challenging.

You’ll be climbing about 2350 feet on this trail with the highest altitude of 8846 feet. Day hike permits for the Devil’s Slide Trail are free but limited on weekends and holidays during the summer. Thus, an alternate choice must be necessary.

Idyllwild hiking
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This Idyllwild hiking trail takes you through the wilderness of San Jacinto with steep elevation gain. It’s one of the most used trails in Idyllwild, which leads to a historic fire lookout and incredible views of San Jacinto.

3. Fuller Ridge Trail

Fuller Ridge trail to San Jacinto peak is a full-day strenuous hike of 3000 feet. This Idyllwild hiking trail leaves from atop the Black Mountain with a picturesque view. The trail is recommended from June to October, whereas it’s closed from November to May.

The entire trail is about five miles, wherein the first 2miles take you along a timbered ridge above snow creek, and in the next part of the trail, it’s a bit strenuous but with incredible scenery.

4. Suicide Rock via Deer Springs Trail

Idyllwild hiking
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It’s a 10.8 out and back trail, which is very popular for Idyllwild hiking and trail running.

The hike time is 3-4 hours on a moderately challenging route. A wilderness permit is required to hike up the trail.

It is one of the best Idyllwild hiking from where you can enjoy the incredible views of the strawberry valley, countless streams, and the mighty San Jacinto Mountains.

You get to see Lily rock and Tahquitz peak across the strawberry valley, jean peak, and Marion Mountain on this Idyllwild hiking trail.

5. Cahuilla Mountain Trail

Cahuilla mountain trail is a 9.2 km long trail in Anza, which is considered moderately challenging. This Idyllwild hiking trail begins at Cahuilla saddle and heads to the northeast slopes through the scrub, live oak, and Jeffrey pine thickets.

The trail passes through a natural research area with diverse ecosystems used for research and study purposes. It takes about three hours to complete the hike with an elevation of 4480 feet.

6. Marion Mountain to San Jacinto Peak

Marion mountain trail is famous for backpacking, hiking, and trail running, although the route is considered challenging.

It is the longest trail among the Idyllwild hiking, which extends up to 12 miles. It takes an average of ten hours with the beginning elevation of 6480 feet.

Idyllwild hiking
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Summer months are the best time to attempt the hike when the ground is dry and firm than in winter. This Idyllwild hiking trail begins from Marion Mountain campground, then climbs the northwest flank of Marion ridge, offering far-reaching scenery.

It’s the shortest route to San Jacinto peaks. But the trail is heavily frosted, and the hike becomes strenuous.

7. Webster Trail

The Webster trail is a short trail of 2.5 miles long, beginning from the forest road and descending west towards the San Jacinto River. The path is strenuous with uneven terrain and beginning elevation of 5400 feet.

Starting from Jeffery’s pines border, the trail proceeds over a ridge and is terminated in streamside willows. Along the way, there is excellent scenery of the San Jacinto and Hemet valleys.

8. San Jacinto Peak Middle Route Trail

It’s a 25.7 km long out and back trail among Idyllwild hiking popular for birding, hiking, and trail running. It is one of the most challenging and demanding trails of Idyllwild, which involves many exposed stretches of trail, rocky terrain, and a lot of switchbacks.

It takes an average of eight and half hours to complete the trail with an elevation gain of 1324 m.

The best time to visit this Idyllwild hiking trail is May through November. The route begins from Humber Park, and to hike, you will need to have a day permit. The trail offers breathtaking views. Dogs are allowed on the trail except for state Park Land.

9. South Ridge Trail

It is a popular trail in Idyllwild hiking proceeding to Tahquitz peak, 12.6 long. The route begins at 6800 feet with an elevation gain of 2000 m.

Morning hours of summer are recommended for this hike, which offers spectacular views of Desert Divide, Strawberry valley, and beyond.

The route begins from Saunders Meadow Rd, and the trailhead is tricky to access. The signboards in Saunders Meadow Rd led the visitors to the south ridge trail and forest access road.

10. San Jacinto Peak Loop Trail

This trail covers some of the most scenic parts of the San Jacinto mountains, 36.2 km in length. The route starts from the deer springs trailhead with a total of 5400 ft. The hike takes two days and a night to complete.

This hike is one of the toughest and most beautiful ones, passing through the old-growth pine forest and relishing the incredible views of Tahquitz peak and suicide rock.

Idyllwild hiking
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The trail begins from the town of Idyllwild, passing through a bit of round valley, rivers, Wellman’s divide, and loops back to the strawberry junction. It would help if you had a free permit for this underrated challenging hike.

11. Black Mountain Trail

The black mountain trail begins in the scrub at 4480 feet and ends on the slopes of the black mountain at an elevation of 7772 feet.

It is a moderately strenuous hike with a length of 3.6 miles. This out and back trail takes five hours to complete, and the best time to visit is May through December.

The trail offers spectacular views of Banning pass, Baldy, and Mount San Gorgonio, and also it passes through a natural research area. The entire way is through the forest with sequoia trees, beautiful Manzanitas, and breathtaking scenery.

12. Seven Pines Trail

The trailhead begins in the wilderness of San Jacinto. It is a moderate trail with a beginning elevation of 6320 feet. The trail is strenuous, with several switchbacks with a heavily forested path. A wilderness permit is required for this hike.

The trail is 13.8 miles which will take ten hours to hike time. Take Highway 243 north from Idyllwild to Forest Road 4S03 and then turn north and follow it past Dark Canyon Campground to the trailhead.

This trail follows the North Fork of the San Jacinto River to Its’ headwater at Deer Springs, and the campground access road is closed from October to May.

13. Climber’s Trail

It is a 0.5-mile trail used by rock climbers to access the base of Suicide Rock. Register a short way up the trail at the sign-in box for the Climbers Trail, and that’s the permit.

The trail begins from Fern Valley Road near Humber Park and passes through private property.

14. Palm Canyon Trail

Written permission is required from the Agua Caliente Tribal Council to hike the portions of the Palm Canyon Trail that cross tribal lands. It is a 3.2 km out and back trail that takes an average of 55 minutes to complete the hike. It’s an easy hike with an elevation gain of 90m.

The trail starts West of the flat pinyon campground and then heads north, descending the length of Palm Canyon to Palm Springs.

The best time to visit is November through July, and the trail is shaded with a mile of Palm Tree along both sides with a stream running parallel through the middle.

15. Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail extends over 2600 miles from the border of Canada near Castle Peak, northern Washington, to the border of Mexico near Campo, California.

The San Jacinto District contains 55 miles of the trail beginning from the east of the junction of State Highways 371 and 74 in Garner Valley, and it passes through the wilderness and exits north of Cabazon Peak near Interstate 10 in the desert near Palm Springs.

San Jacinto mountains contain 55 miles of Pacific crest trail and need a hiking permit to travel through the wilderness section.

16. Humber Park to Ranger Station Loop

Humber Park to Ranger Station Loop is a loop trail where you may see local wildlife near Palm Springs, extending over 15.93 miles in length with an elevation gain of 4154 feet. It’s a moderately challenging route that takes about an average of eight hours to complete the hike.

The best time to visit the trail is from May through November, and the trail is famous for backpacking, birding, and camping. A free permit is required for day hiking and overnight trips within the federal wilderness area of the San Jacinto mountains.

The trail offers picturesque views of Suicide and Taquitz Rock on opposite sides of the valley.

Idyllwild is in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California and is about an hour-long journey from Hemet, Temecula, and Riverside to the West and Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley to the East, and two hours from San Diego to the South and Los Angeles to the North West.

The options include Mount San Jacinto State Park Campgrounds, San Bernardino National Forest Campgrounds, and Riverside County Campgrounds.

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Closing Thoughts

Mount San Jacinto State Park campgrounds include Idyllwild Campground and Stone Creek Campground.

San Bernardino National Forest Campgrounds include Fern Basin Campground, Marion Mountain Campground, Dark Canyon Campground, Black Mountain Group Campground, and Boulder Basin Campground.

Riverside County campgrounds include Idyllwild Regional Park Campground, Hurkey Creek Park Campground, and McCall Memorial Equestrian Campground.

So, this is it. Everything you needed to know about Idyllwild hiking trails, campgrounds, and the adventure.

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