Idyllwild-Pine Cove is 110 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
Tahquitz Peak has been on my list for over a year. I was determined to climb this peak this winter while it’s still cool. Some parts of the trail are narrow near the peak and the trail can be closed for weeks during winter due to an icy/windy trail condition. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) it’s been a dry winter and we haven’t gotten much snow in the mountains. I took it as a sign and planned a hike in January.
We got on the road super early that morning since I had to drive 125 miles to the trailhead. First, we drove to San Jacinto Ranger Station and fill out a Wilderness Permit for day use. After our friends showed up, with our copy of the permit, we drove to the trailhead which is 2.5 miles from the ranger station.
We packed our permits in our backpacks and left an Adventure Pass in our vehicles before beginning the hike. I was turned away by two rangers 2 miles into the hike before because I didn’t have the permit with me. I wasn’t going to let that happen again. If this happens to you, you can hike another dog-friendly trail nearby called Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail 3E07 which doesn’t require a permit.
The trail begins at the Humber Park. It was cold. That meant we had a good chance of seeing some snow. Yay!
Sure enough, after about 1.5 miles on Devils Slide Trail, we found snow.
Soon I had to put on my microspikes. It was too icy. I always carry them in my pack during winter because you just never know. When you come to the saddle junction after 2.45 miles, take Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) toward Tahquitz Peak. Signs will be there to guide you.
Unlike the switchbacks on Devils Slide Trail, this section of PCT was wide open.
At the 3.82-mile marker, we came to a junction and we took S Ridge Trail. But first, we had a doggie playtime. The open empty space was so inviting.
Tahquitz Peak Fire Lookout at its elevation of 8,846 feet is the highest lookout in the San Bernardino National Forest. This hike has a gradual but steady incline so pace yourself. You will gain a total of 2,298 feet in elevation. The lookout is a great place to have lunch and enjoy the 360-degree of the incredible view.
Whenever you are ready, go back out the way you came in. It’s an out and back trail. After lunch, we took a group photo near the peak then we made our way down.
Good to Know:
- Hike Date: 1.15.18
- Distance: 8.5 miles RT
- Elevation Gain: 2,298 feet
- Difficulty Level: Difficult
- A Wilderness Permit is required for day use or overnight backpacking in the San Jacinto Wilderness. Day use wilderness permits are free and are available 24 hours a day at the ranger station. Make sure to carry your copy with you.
- An Adventure Pass is required for parking if you begin your hike via Devils Slide ($5/day or $30/year)
- San Jacinto Ranger Station: 54270 Pine Crest Ave, Idyllwild, CA 92549
- Trailhead: 33.764757, -116.685992 (copy/paste into Google map)
- Vault toilets available at the trailhead
- Tahquitz Peak can also be reached via S Ridge Trail