view from Mount San Jacinto Hike

Hike Mount San Jacinto From Idyllwild

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. To hike Mount San Jacinto from Idyllwild, you'll need a good level of fitness, it's a tough one.

5 / 5
19.5 miles (31.4 km)
10 hours
5080 ft (1548 m)
Trail Condition:
Marked Trails
Climbing, Crowds, Boulder Scramble
Quiet except for at summit
Known For:
Spectacular views
Best Time:
Early morning
Hike Weather:

Mount San Jacinto Hike Trail Maps

Google Maps trailhead:
Deer Springs Trail, Idyllwild, CA, 92549, USA

Hike Location

Mount San Jacinto Hike location
The Deer Springs Trailhead is about 2:15 east of downtown Los Angeles, and 1 hour from Palm Springs. The hike starts in Idyllwild, a cozy mountain resort. It's not a bad idea to stay overnight here since it's a long hike. There are hotels and campgrounds in the area.

3D Hike Map

Mount San Jacinto Hike 3d map
The trail goes up and down Deer Springs Trail, and does a loop on the far part of the hike. The loop is setup to maximize the good views.

Hike Elevation Profile

You hike uphill. For a long time. The good news is that the downhill is equally as long. It's a long distance, so you have to pace yourself.

Interactive Hike Map

Mount San Jacinto Hike Map Downloads

Download a GPX file to use on your GPS device. GPS devices are great to plan and follow routes, and there are tons of free electronic hiking maps that you can use. But don't rely solely on electronic navigation, always have a paper backup. Print out the PDF below, get a topo map, and/or print these directions.

View a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Mount San Jacinto Hike Directions

view from Mount San Jacinto Hike

Do you have the right gear for this hike? Check out all the gear and clothing that I personally use and recommend. I've tested it all and cut the junk out so you don't waste your money.

What to Expect

Turn by Turn Directions

Idyllwild Ranger Station
Before you start, visit the Idyllwild Ranger Station in the center of town to get your free hiking permit.
hiking permit
Fill out a normal permit for the Deer Springs Trail. Put the white copy in the box and the yellow copy in your pocket. A ranger might ask to see it on the trail.
Mount San Jacinto Hike parking
There’s parking at the Deer Spring trailhead, and another small lot a few hundred feet up the road. Leave early, it’s a long hike and the lot fills quickly.
Mount San Jacinto Hike trail
A wide trail leads up from the parking area.
Deer Springs Trail
After a few hundred feet, make the left onto Deer Springs Trail.
sign on Deer Springs Trail
At the start of Deer Springs Trail, you’ll see a sign saying that you need a permit. The permit that you filled out at the ranger station is good for both Mount San Jacinto State Park and San Jacinto National Forest.
Mount San Jacinto Hike climbs
The trail gently climbs up switchbacks for the first few miles.
California State WIlderness sign
At about 0.7 miles, there’s another California State WIlderness sign.
Mount San Jacinto Hike side trail
As you climb, there are side trails to the right offering views. Make sure you stay on the main trail and continue climbing. Generally side trails are ‘cordoned off’ with a stick, log, or row of stones.
Mount San Jacinto Hike side trail
There’s a side trail to the right that goes to Suicide Rock. It’s easy to miss. Give the detour a skip and continue to hike left on the Deer Springs Trail towards Strawberry Junction.
Strawberry Junction
At about 4 miles, you’ll reach Strawberry Junction. Continue straight through this intersection and continue on Deer Springs Trail.
Pacific Crest Trail sign
You’re officially on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This sign post needs a little TLC, but you’ll notice a few of these as you continue on the PCT sections of the hike.
Mount San Jacinto Hike trail
This section of the trail is pretty level as it goes around the side of Marion Mountain.
Mount San Jacinto Hike views
The views are great on this section. It’s a great place for a pitstop and a snack.
Mount San Jacinto Hike junction
There are a few quick junctions in a row now. At about 6 miles, stay right at Deer Springs.
Mount San Jacinto Hike junction
A few minutes later, another junction, stay right toward San Jacinto Peak.
Mount San Jacinto Hike trail sign
Here’s a closeup of that last trail sign. The trails on this hike area really well marked. When in doubt, check the signs.
Mount San Jacinto Hike junction
Shortly you come to the last intersection for a while. At 6.6 miles, say goodbye to the PCT and keep hiking to the right.
Mount San Jacinto Hike views
You’re going to start climbing again. The views will open up to the west, revealing the peaks in Orange County and LA. The double bump in the back is Santiago Peak and Modjeska Peak.
Little Round Valley Campground
At around 8 miles, you reach Little Round Valley Campground. Keep hiking straight through.
Little Round Valley Campground
Little Round Valley Campground has some fun signs and sculptures. If you want to split the hike up into two days, get a camping permit before you leave and camp here. There are quotas on camping permits, so call ahead.
There’s a porta-potty here if you need to go to the bathroom.
Mount San Jacinto Hike trail sign
A trail milage sign marks the end of the campground. Keep going straight and start climbing again toward San Jacinto peak.
Mount San Jacinto Hike switchbacks
A series of switchbacks climb up the last major section of Mount San Jacinto.
Mount San Jacinto Hike turn
Whew! At about 9.6 miles, you’re on the ridge. Make the left for the last 0.3 mile scramble to the peak.
Mount San Jacinto Hike trail
Follow the trail up to the end of the line. The trail is not well defined here, it splits and comes together quite a bit. Just keep heading up.
emergency hiker hut
Soon the emergency hiker hut comes into view, head over to it for a look.
emergency hiker hut
The hut has 4 bunks and is free to use for hikers in an emergency. If you have any extra supplies, leave them here for those in need.
emergency hiker hut sign
The hut was built in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps under Roosevelt’s New Deal plan.
Mount San Jacinto Hike boulders
Okay, back to climbing. Follow the boulders and cairns toward the top. Again, there are several routes up.
Mount San Jacinto Hike boulders
Tackle the last few boulders to get to San Jacinto peak.
cris hazzard with Mount San Jacinto sign
If the sign is here, get a picture with it. Visitors have stolen it in the past.
Mount San Jacinto Hike views
The views to the east are of Palm Springs, the Sonoran Desert, Joshua Tree National Park, and the Mojave Desert to the north of the mountains in the distance.
Mount San Jacinto Hike views
To the north and west, you have views of Mount San Gorgonio, the San Bernardino mountains, Angeles National Forest, LA, Orange County, and the Inland Empire.
cris hazzard on Mount San Jacinto
Grab a few selfies and some food to fuel up for the trip back to Idyllwild.
Mount San Jacinto Hike trail junction
Head back down the boulders, past the hut, and continue to the trail junction. Instead of turning right (the way you came up), go straight. This route is the way back to the tramway. You will see a lot of day hikers who took the tram up on this stretch. Embrace your inner macho knowing that you hiked about twice as far as them without the aid of the tram.
Wellman Divide Trail
Enjoy your descent as the Wellman Divide Trail heads down the mountain.
views of Palm Springs
I routed the hike in this direction so that you can enjoy the great views of Palm Springs and the desert on your way down. Soak it all in.
Mount San Jacinto Hike trail junction
After about 12.1 miles, hike to the right at the junction and continue on Wellmans Divide Trail, towards Saddle Junction. The hike will get a lot quieter as the day hikers from the tram head left at this junction.
Mount San Jacinto Hike views
Spectacular views as the trail easily descends back toward Idyllwild.
Jacinto National Wilderness sign
Another border crossing, this time back into San Jacinto National Wilderness.
Mount San Jacinto Hike sign
Shortly after re-entering San Jacinto National Wilderness, hike to the right on the trail to Strawberry Cienega and Deer Springs. You are back on the PCT.
Mount San Jacinto Hike sign
A closeup of the trail sign in the last image, showing you all the options. Don’t go toward Idyllwild, you want to go back to the Deer Springs trail.
Mount San Jacinto Hike views
Continue hiking downhill. The views are incredible.
Mount San Jacinto Hike trail
The trail continues downward for 2.3 miles to Strawberry Junction.
pine cones on trail
You might see some little drumstick shaped objects on the trail. Those aren’t chicken wings, they’re pine cones that have been eaten by squirrels.
Mount San Jacinto Hike camping area
At around 15 miles the trail turns and follows a nice flat area on the ridge that offers some nice backcountry camping opportunities.
 San Jacinto State Park sign
At around 15.4 miles, you’re back in San Jacinto State Park Wilderness.
Strawberry Junction Campground
At about 15.7 miles, you go through Strawberry Junction Campground. There are bathrooms here (note the porta-potty in the background).
Strawberry Junction
Hike through the campground and you’re back at Strawberry Junction. Make the left and hike back down Deer Springs Trail to the trailhead and your car.
end of Mount San Jacinto Hike
About 19.5 miles later, you’re back! Pat yourself on the back, that was a long and tough hike. You deserve as many beers and burgers as you want tonight.

Mount San Jacinto Hike Video

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A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.