Trail Information

Topographic Map

Elevation Profile

Hike Location Overview

Email this page to a friend


AllTrails Google Printer Friendly Weather MapQuest TopoZone Help

Black Mountain

View this trail on the brand new


Fire Lookout, Amazing views of San Gabriels, San Gorgonio and the pass
Near:Idyllwild, CA
Distance:8 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:2700 ft
Hike Time:5 hours
Trail Condition:OK, but a few difficult spots
HikeType:Out and Back

Summary: This is a no-nonsense elevation gainer. You start at 5200 feet and in a little over 3.5 miles gain 2600 feet to a final elevation at or near 7800 feet. Most of the early part of the trail is through oak, some scattered pine and chaparral. Views of the San Gabriels and the San Gorgonio Wilderness open up almost immediately. The real beauty comes, however, when you reach the high country and the alpine woods.

From the fire lookout on top you are afforded a 360' view of Fuller Ridge, San Jacinto, the San Gabriels, San Gorgonio and all of Southern California in-between, albeit the view is interrupted by the lookout tower. Still, this is a fascinating mountain to climb.

The best time to go is winter when Black Mountain Road is closed, so you can avoid people who have taken their cars to the top, and have the views all to yourself. If you do choose winter, watch out for shady icy sections of the trail. Some areas are very dangerous.

Trailhead: Take the 10 East to Banning. Exit Highway 243, and follow the signs for the highway. About one-two miles past the Vista Grande Ranger Station, you will see a sign for Black Mountain trail. Turn left and follow the dirt road to a parking area.

The trail is pretty easy to follow. In some places it is hard to discern when it follows a rocky wash or tops sandy boulders, just stop to look around and you'll find it.

Black Mountain Road will take you right to the top in summertime, so the best time to make this trip is winter when the road is closed and icy. Even on a Saturday, you won't see many people. The clear winter skies are also a bonus. (Lat:33.82395 Lon:-116.75758)

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

Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Winter,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: San Bernardino National Forest (909)382-2922
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 LSWagstaff on 9/27/2015
I did this hike today with my four year old lab. The weather was nice as I'm from the desert! I started at 830 and got to the top at 1130 where we ate lunch in the shade. I got back to the car at 2. I was disappointed because I couldn't find the fire lookout but the scenery was beautiful anyway. There are some great views of the Banning pass, San Gregornio mountains and the San Gabriel's. The only complaint I have about the entire hike was the BUGS! Gnat like files EVERYWHERE! Be prepared to become one with them because they are relentless! I probably wouldn't do this hike in the summer again. I'd wait until further into fall or even winter. Maybe the bugs would be less!

Reviewed by UK on 8/30/2015
Just came back....Simply amazing!! Perhaps the most scenic 3.75 miles in the entire region. ck out some 80 photos...go to click on 'Past Hikes'

Reviewed by Nate on 6/2/2013
Error: Reserved Word Found: --

Reviewed by BG on 7/3/2012
I (with my 8-year old, and a 2-year old on my back) went up the trail for a ways, but also - as other comments have been left - got a bit disoriented in an area littered with dead wood. It would be great if they had trail markers, because it can be very easy to lose (when we lost it we actually had a bit of trouble finding it for the trip back down!).

Reviewed by Kennedy Family on 9/19/2010
Hiked this yesterday September 18, 2010. I took my wife and 2 year old son. It was a tough hike for us but we made it to the lookout. Make sure you look for the water tower to the right once you hit the dirt road. Then just "head up" to get to the summit. Look for the American flag. The ascent was a challenge but well worth it for the view at the top. 5.5 hours up and 2.5 hours down for us.

Reviewed by Erin on 7/15/2010
We hiked this June 21, 2010. It's a gorgeous hike but some of the trail is narrow and unkept. For the most part it's easy to follow. We did get lost at the top and couldn't find the Fire Look Out. You have to hike to the campground (Down the road and turn right on the next road). This hike took us 7.5 hours. It was a strenous day. Very hot and flies were landing on us the whole way. I have now invested in 100 percent DEET. Trail and views are spectacular!!!! Bring lots of snacks and water!

Reviewed by Koger on 1/6/2010
So this hike is definitely a butt kicker. However, it's in very poor condition. I hiked up about a mile or two and lost the trail in a dead end surrounded by dead wood and brush after a gorgeous boulder field. This trail needs some better upkeep because it's definitely a beautiful hike, but it's easy to lose the trail. I didn't make it to the lookout, so that bummed me. I hope it gets tidied up.

Reviewed by Jeff Hovis on 10/27/2009
This hike reminds you of why you should stay in shape!Well worth the strenous hike for the great views all along the way.Hike & views made even better with the spectacular lunch my wife packed me.

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

About Us    Help    Contact Us
Site Map Of Available Hikes
Copyright © 2003-2010 AllTrails, Inc.
Member of the AllTrails Network.