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San Jacinto Via Marion Mountain Trail

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Awe-inspiring views, strenuous uphill climb, variety of pine trees, creeks
Near:Idyllwild, CA
Distance:12 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:4800 ft
Hike Time:7.5 hours
Trail Condition:OK, but a few difficult spots
HikeType:Out and Back

Summary: 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.

This trail is a butt-blaster. It feels longer than it is, it takes longer than suggested, and it will make you work for your summit the entire way. This is the shortest route to San Jacinto without cheating, but it is by no means the easiest.

You get it all - the range of San Jacinto plant life, great views and a killer workout, however the way down is almost as bad as up. I rate this a ten on the toejam scale. It feels like 18 miles not 12. Even my usual stellar 3.2 mph trail average slipped to a dismal 2.3 mph on this one.

It is a tough go, and I will probably never take this trail again, although the views are worth it - I'll take Fuller Ridge or better yet - cheat. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is kind of cheap.

Trailhead: Drive north on the 243 from Idyllwild a few miles to the San Jacinto State Park Entrance. Turn right and follow the signs for Marion Mountain Campground.


Drive south on the 243 from Banning 19 miles to the turnout for San Jacinto State Park. Turn left and follow the signs for Marion Mountain Campground.

Park at the locked gate, follow the road to the trail, or continue on the road to the campground where you can also begin the trail. Follow this trail to the PCT, turn left, and follow the PCT until it intersects with the Fuller Ridge Trail, stay right and ascend the Deer Springs Trail past Little Round Valley to the intersection of the Peak Trail. Clamber up the rocks to the summit. (Lat:33.81454 Lon:-116.67948)

Trail Guides for San Jacinto Via Marion Mountain Trail:
San Bernardino Mountain Trails - 100 Hikes in Southern California
by John W. Robinson  (Wilderness Press)

Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: San Jacinto State Park (909) 659-2607
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Allen Riedel, who has posted  123 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews  Page 1 of 11   Submit your own review
Reviewed by on 9/9/2015
I recommend taking Deer Springs instead. Did the loop up from Idyllwild on Deer Springs and down Wellman's Divide for maximum scenery exposure. Love this hike, one of my favorites. I have full turn by turn directions to hike San Jacinto peak on my blog, check it out.

Reviewed by WP on 8/6/2013
This is my 7th time on this trail. It was in really poor shape due to the recent rain that helped put out the Mountain fire but took it's toll on the trail which was washed out in several places. Limited water supply. The stream at Round Valley was dry and if you want water you need to get it about .5 mile b4 Round Valley. This is a very difficult hike but has great views along the way.

Reviewed by DC on 6/28/2013
A straight Tailkicker, much more difficult then I expected. Everyone has always said Vivian trail on San Gorgonio is the toughest around, I now beg to differ. The trail from Marion Mountain campground to the Deer Springs intersection is in terrible shape which magnified the already steep trail. Putting the relentless uphill aside, the beauty of the area is awesome. The views of once you are up high are pretty incredible.If your are gonna hike this one get a goodnight of sleep and eat your Wheaties. Oh and be ready for a grueling downhill it may be as tough as going up.

Reviewed by JDW on 6/15/2013
Beautiful hike, good weather, nice people, and a nice prep for my Mt. Kilimanjaro climb coming up in a couple of weeks. I'll be back!

Reviewed by CP on 8/11/2012
07/23/2012 Hot that day. The leader of our pack forgot to mention DOGS NOT ALLOWED on this trail so we had to turn back at the 1/2 mile point. In California dogs are not allowed on State Park trails. Wilderness Permit is required. Did get some great photos of the milkweed plants in bloom & big black carpenter bees. Since it was hot and getting late, we chose to hike Ernie Maxwell trail instead.

Reviewed by Viewer on 6/19/2012
if you love pain this trail is for you . i personaly love to hurt i don't like easy Hikes . went on father's day and it was the pretiest i ever seen this trail in this time of the year very green i could not get over of how Beautiful the Cabage looked and the water streams / Creeks were full and i also forgot how hard is to descent speacially the last 2 miles Enjoy ! Run Borrega Run"

Reviewed by DG on 9/20/2011
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Reviewed by Bruce K on 9/13/2011
It was a great hike. It took us 9 hours. The sign at the Trailhead said 5 1/4 miles to San Jacinto, but it felt like 10 miles.

Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
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