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Tahquitz Peak - South Ridge Trail

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Historic fire lookout, 360' view, pines and boulders
Near:Idyllwild, CA
Distance:6 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:2300 ft
Hike Time:4 hours
Trail Condition:Well maintained trail
HikeType:Out and Back

Summary: This is a pretty straightforward trail through oak, chinnapquin, chapparal, and eventually a pine forest. You get lovely views all along the trail, and some of the boulders along the way are fascinating.

At the top is a fire lookout manned by some friendly people from May-November. You can walk around it to see in every direction.

The route starts with some switchbacking, then flattens out for a bit, and for the last mile, the switchbacks are pretty steep, but that's the best part, right?

If it seems short - that is because it is. It is only 6 miles round trip up and back.

Trailhead: Head south on the 243 from Idyllwild, turn left on Saunders Meadow Road. Turn north onto Pine Avenue (you can only turn north) then turn right onto Tahquitz View Drive, follow it until you see a sign for South Ridge Road. It isn't really a sign for the road, but it lists the trail as an option on the sign. Turn right and follow it to it's completion.

The trail begins it's steady climb from here. Be courteous with parking on the weekends, this trail gets a lot of use. (Lat:33.75527 Lon:-116.67707)

Trail Guides for Tahquitz Peak - South Ridge Trail:
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)

California Hiking
by Tom Sinestra and Ann Marie Brown (Avalon Travel)

Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: San Jacinto Wilderness (909) 659-2117
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 7   Submit your own review
Reviewed by Viewer on 6/26/2016
Moderate hike at the beginning. Grueling switchbacks up to the peak. Different websites rated this easy to moderate. We have been training for Half Dome. We hike locally in San Diego 2 times a week. Elevation turned this hike into strenuous. Bring lots of water. Trailhead difficult to find. Last mile or so poorly maintained dirt road. Glad we took our truck. Huge pot holes. I would not take a car on this This being said the scenery is beautiful.

Reviewed by Lucy on 6/7/2015
This hike is a steady climb, not particularly steep in any one section but relentless. Well maintained trail with about 40% shade disbursed along the trail. Important tips: Dog friendly trail The road is well marked to get to the trail head with a 1.5 mile unpaved stretch landing at a huge rock. We took my Honda Fit so with a careful driver the unpaved section is do-able in nearly any vehicle. HIKING PERMITS REQUIRED. These are free forms you fill out at the San Bernardino National Forest ranger station in town. No special pass/fee for parking.

Reviewed by DA on 8/5/2014
Moderate for only experienced hikers...otherwise difficult. 3.7 miles uphill, the last mile is difficult. Very well maintained and marked. Worth the trek to the top. The trail head is misleading, follow the dirt road about 2 miles in until the dirt road comes to an end. It is narrow and on weekends can imagine it would be hard to navigate 2 way traffic. Great views, and the terrain varies. Carry plenty of water.

Reviewed by Nancy on 6/22/2014
Trailhead was hard to find, and I almost gave up. Glad I kept going, because the views were fantastic. I started early, as advised by the ranger when I got my permit. This hike is moderate only for those who are accustomed to the elevation. Coming from sea level in San Diego, the uphill was a struggle. The trail to the fire tower is not marked, but I managed to find it. The friendly Forest Service volunteers checked my permit and gave me a tour of their tiny quarters. The downhill was much easier, but I was dismayed by the number of people hiking with dogs off the leash, and with inadequate water. This hike should be done in the early morning in the summer, and with plenty of water!

Reviewed by Lori on 10/14/2013
I'm glad my out of shape husband and I finished this hike to finally arrive at the fire lookout tower. There was a fair amount of snow to walk through on the last half of the hike which made it a little more difficult. There was snow on the trail even though there was none in the town, and I would've thought it would be all melted since the snow fell over 4 days ago. We got to the trailhead fine in our vw jetta though.

Reviewed by David on 8/27/2013
Tahquitz is definitely one of So Cal's best views, and the South Ridge trail is comparably scenic to the more popular Devil's Slide/PCT route. I was able to make the drive up the dirt road in my Toyota Yaris without too much difficulty, although there is a spot near the bottom that's tough. Go slowly and carefully and check with the ranger station about conditions. Check out my trip report and pictures here.

Reviewed by old bones on 5/29/2012
Memorial day weekend. the STEEP drive up the service road required 4x4 and high clearance truck. 2WD and sedans should stick to Devils Slide trailhead, not the South Ridge rd. the hiking trail is in good condition, many people with dogs off leash, that collide with other people with dogs off leash. Stupid people. your dogs want to protect the owners so they start fighting the other dogs. KEEP YOUR DOGS ON A SHORT LEASH. it's good advice and it's the LAW.

Reviewed by 83 is the new38 on 2/6/2012
Feb 5 SuperBowl Sunday ran into 5 people. South Ridge trail get sun exposure. has small iced patches. passable on the margins. Tower closed for winter although sign posted HIGH fire danger. Heard that Devil's slide trail was frozen must use crampons. 28F Ranger station 630am. The 1.5 mile drive up to the trail head is all torn up with ruts, soft sand and mud. high clearance 4x4 only, crossover sedans will be stuck and bottom out. Ranger said last week 3 cars were stranded. Weather was switching quickly from overheating warm in the sun to icy cold bone chilling. regulated body temp with zippers and polyester layers instead of cotton.

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.
Keys: California Hiking, California Trails, California Hikes, Riverside County Hiking, Riverside County Trails, Riverside County Hikes

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