There are a several routes to hike Mount San Jacinto. This route from Idyllwild is my favorite. The climb is not as steep as the other routes, you don’t need a special permit, and the views on the whole hike are spectacular. John Muir called the views from Mount San Jacinto the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth. On a clear day, you can see from Catalina Island to Southern Utah. That’s because Mount San Jacinto, at 10,834 feet, is one of the most topographically prominent peaks in the USA, rising 10,000 feet above the San Gorgonio Pass below. This hike to San Jacinto includes a stretch on the famous Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) where you can channel your inner Reese Witherspoon. The hike is long, and you need a good level of fitness to do it.
If you just want to summit San Jacinto but don’t want to tackle a hike this far, try the San Jacinto Summit hike from the tram in Palm Springs. You can also split this hike into an overnight backpacking trip. Campgrounds on the route (described below) are first come, first serve. Pick up a camping permit at the ranger’s office. You also need a permit if you’re using a portable stove (or campfire).
You need a parking pass for the Deer Springs Trailhead parking. I use the affordable National Parks Pass, which gets me in every park, monument, and national forest. You can also use an (Southern California only) Adventure Pass, or buy a $5 day permit from the ranger’s office.
Getting a Hike Permit in Idyllwild
You need a permit for this hiking route, and it’s easy to get, there are no quotas (unlike other routes). Just pick up the permit at the San Jacinto Ranger Station, fill it out, and hike. You can get a permit after-hours, the permits are actually outside the station.
This is a long hike. Make sure you pack plenty of water, snacks, and layers for the summit in the cooler months. Remember to pace yourself, don’t start too fast. And don’t try this in the winter unless you’re positive you can handle potential extreme snow, ice, and sub-zero conditions. Call the ranger office if you’re in doubt.
Joby tripods attach to anything. The legs are adjustable and grippy, so you can put them on trees, packs, rocks, whatever. And they work like regular tripods too. Works with everything from smartphones to DSLRs.
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This thing does everything: maps, GPX tracks, compass, barometer, altitude, heart rate, blood oxygen, fitness tracking, sleep tracking, and the list goes on. I keep a GPX route on the watch so I can quickly glance down and make sure I’m in the right place.
I load a few types of offline maps onto my smartphone when I need to interact with the map in detail. I also use it before my hikes as a planning tool for all kinds of things, including finding free government land to camp on. The benefits are many, I highly recommend it.
Don’t be caught out if your batteries die. Take a topo map with you on the trail and learn how to read it. Some people also print my guides out for use on the hike. I’m a map geek and I love to pour over maps and guide books when planning my next adventure.