Summary: This is a long, but not so tough haul up the Western ridge of San Jacinto. You pass through different climactic zones, and the trail has its share of ups and downs, so coming back isn't the easiest route you can take. And for some odd reason, the return trip seems longer than the ascent. There are several campgrounds along the way should you decide to backpack. The trail is well shaded, and very gentle in its slope. There are a few steep spots, but hey, you are climbing a big mountain after all.
John Muir called the sunrise from the peak "one of the most sublime vistas he'd ever seen," unfortunately sublime is not the way it is described now. The smog-ridden filth from LA is everywhere, by the time we summitted Baldy was covered and obscured.
However, if you can catch the rare clear day in So Cal, this would be the must-see spot to catch it from.
Trailhead: Take the 243 from either Banning or Idyllwild, drive until you reach Black Mountain road. Turn East onto the dirt road. It is rutted and rough, but you should be able to make it with even a low-clearance vehicle. Follow the road for 8 miles to the turnoff for the Fuller Ridge trail road (signed.) Drive to the parking area and the posts for the PCT are east to pick up.
Give yourself a good hour and fifteen minutes drive time from Banning, although the trail is perfect for a late morning stroll. It doesn't get very hot, even in August.
Take the PCT to the connection with the Deer Springs Trail, and then the short branch that takes you past the shelter to the peak. (Lat:33.81477 Lon:-116.67939)
Trail Guides for San Jacinto Via Fuller Ridge:
by Tom Sinestra and Ann Marie Brown (Avalon Travel)
San Bernardino Mountain Trails - 100 Hikes in Southern California
by John W. Robinson (Wilderness Press)
Day Hikers Guide to Southern California
by John McKinney (Olympus Press)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: Mount San Jacinto State Park (909)794-1123
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 3 Submit your own review
Reviewed by CD on 11/26/2012
The dirt road is closed in winter so be sure to catch this trail during open season. Its a very pretty but dusty drive, can be done by any car but faster and probably better ride with a truck or SUV. The Black Mountain campground on the way up is often out of water so don't count on that. There are beautiful primitive yellow-post sites past this campground, highly recommend if you're driving up and hiking the following morning. The trail itself is gorgeous but very challenging for novice hikers. Expect balcony-views down to the 10 most of the way. A few silly up-and-down sections lose and then gain elevation for no apparent reason. Near the the junction with Deer Springs, redesign is in progress and can make things confusing. Bring a map.
Reviewed by Whitney Bound on 7/29/2012
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Reviewed by Mike F. on 5/13/2012
Not sure about the distance and elevation gain given. It's more like 15.2 miles round-trip and 3204' gain (trail-head is 7600'). Many north-bound PCT hikers in spring and snow often hides the trail. The summit on weekends is often swarming with hikers off the tram, but if you scramble north only 50' or so, you can find solitude and great views down Snow Creek to the floor.
Reviewed by Tom on 10/28/2010
This is an outstanding overnighter. The trail up is very well maintained and has spectacular views! Plenty of good spots to camp anywhere on the route, especially near the top. Bring good quality tents & clothing, it gets COLD at night, especially if windy. One other tip is you can save a lot of water weight by bringing a purifier, water is abundant most times of the year.
Reviewed by missamy on 10/10/2010
Applied for a permit, didn't see a ranger. Started late, took longer to get to the trail head then expected. There was work being done about 3/4 the way up, the workers were nice but seeing (and hearing) construction isn't one of the things you want to experience while hiking (the other being a bear) The view from the top is AMAZING. We could see Mt Baldy, Hawaii, Canada, Japan..No just kidding.. But, the view is well worth the nine or so hours we spent on the mountain, including the bit back in the dark. Easier than baldy, just longer..
Reviewed by Michael on 9/14/2010
Saw very few hikers, since the Tram is closed we had the peak all to ourselves. We hiked to Little Round Valley, spent the night and summitted in the morning then down to the car after breakfast. Water is available at couple spots on the trail and in Little Round Valley, but has very low flow. A CCC crew is doing trail work on the PCT, blasting rocks, drills, chainsaws and hammers so it was a little noisy at times, but the new sections look great....almost too great. One of the most beautiful trails of SoCal, IMHO. Weather was perfect high 60's - low 70's on the trail. We had three deer visit us at our campsite. Road up takes forever (almost a hour) in a low clearance car, so bring something else.
Reviewed by Crosby on 8/3/2010
The road up was in worse condition this time. What can you do? On the trail we ran into a maintenance crew sprucing it up. The hike was very scenic, especially crossing the ridge and the way up the Mt. was a good time. Took us 10 hours, but we're drunks and only slept for 5 hours. Didn't lose my cellphone this time!
Reviewed by Andy on 6/29/2010
This is a hard trail coming back. There are many parts on the way back where you have to ascend up which is difficult when you are tired. I've been hiking for about 1yr and it took us 12 hrs round trip. There is snow in some spots, but nothing on the actual trail.
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