Hike the Suicide Rock Trail (Idyllwild)
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||7 miles (11.3 km)|
|Hike Time||3-4 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||1,830 feet (558m)|
|Highest Elevation||7,420 feet (2262m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free Permit|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||San Jacinto Ranger District|
|Weather & Forecast||Latest Conditions|
|Stay Safe||Copy this webpage link to the clipobard and share with a friend before you hike. Let them know when to expect you back.|
Hiking the Suicide Rock Trail gives you the big mountain feel without climbing the big mountains. You’ll have to hike uphill on the Deer Springs Trail, through the oaks that give way to pines as you get higher. The payoff is a massive slab of granite with views of the mountains surrounding you. Although you are in San Bernardino National Forest, it feels like you could be at Yosemite.
Permits for the Suicide Rock Trail
You need a free permit to hike to Suicide Rock. The first stop you should make is the San Jacinto Ranger Station in the town of Idyllwild, less than a mile from the Deer Springs Trailhead. Use this address:
San Jacinto Ranger Station, 54270 Pine Crest Ave, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA 92549
Where is the Suicide Rock Trail?
After you have the permit, make your way 0.8 miles to the Deer Springs Trailhead here:
Deer Spring Trail, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA 92549
Gear For the Hike
This is an “all-seasons” hike. In the summer it can be hot, and in the winter the trail can be covered with snow and ice. If you are hiking in a season when there’s snow, check the excellent San Jacinto Trail Report website for current conditions. If the trail is snowy or icy and you don’t have experience in those conditions, give the hike a try another time.
Otherwise you’ll want to bring at least 1L of water. The hike is largely shaded but can be warm. Trekking poles are helpful on the slopes if you have them. In the summer there can be bugs; have some insect repellant on hand just in case.
Garmin InReach Mini 2
I’m a firm believer in carrying a satellite communications device which works where cell phones don’t. I use a Garmin InReach which lets me send text messages back and forth to my family to let them know that I’m okay or if my plans change when I’m out in the backcountry. It also has an SOS subscription built-in so that you can reach first-responders in an emergency. The devices also offer weather reports, GPS, and navigation functionality (what’s the difference between a GPS and satellite communicator?). For a few hundred bucks they could save your life, so for me it’s a no brainer to have something like a Garmin InReach. If you use a smartphone to navigate and want a more affordable option that integrates with your phone easily, check out the ZOLEO.
Latest Prices: Amazon | REI
Altra Lone Peak 6
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Terraventure 3 or Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. I have a video on the details of the Altra Lone Peak 6 here.
Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.
Trail Ergo Poles: REI | Amazon
Z-Poles: REI | Amazon
Gregory Zulu 30 & Jade 28
After testing quite a few backpacks, the Gregory Zulu 30 (and Jade 28 for women) is, for most hikers, the best all-season day-pack. First off, it’s very comfortable, and the mesh “trampoline” back keeps your back dry. Its 30L capacity is enough for all the essentials and plenty of layers for winter hiking. External pockets make it easy to grab gear. It’s hard to find something wrong with the pack; if anything, it could be a bit lighter, but overall, it’s not heavy. And its price-point makes it not only affordable but generally a great value.
Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated June 2022.
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.
Suicide Rock Trail Maps
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.
How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
Here’s what I use. If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
Why is it Called Suicide Rock?
The history of the name is a bit sketchy, but according to the local oral history shared by USFS Rangers, this is roughly how it goes.
- In 1884 Helen Hunt Jackson wrote a best-selling book called Ramona. To sum it up, the book is a love story featuring a romanticized view of Southern California and the struggles of the Native peoples.
- The novel was a huge hit and tourists flocked to visit the sites mentioned in the book. Books like Through Ramona’s Country served as guides to the locations in the story, some of which were in the San Jacinto area. If you had a location with a romantic Native American story behind it, you could probably make a buck on tourism.
- Idyllwild locals, looking to capitalize on the fad, dubbed the big granite area “Suicide Rock” because it was allegedly where a Native princess and her lover committed suicide after being ordered to split up. This had nothing to do with the book Ramona and is likely totally made up, but hey, the name was probably dramatic enough to lure in a few tourists.
- The name first appears officially on the 1957 USGS quad map of Palm Springs.
Suicide Rock Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
In the 1950s the Yosemite Decimal System, the rating system used for rock climbing difficulty, was invented by climbers using Lily Rock.
If you want to summit Suicide Rock, just hike up through the trees on the right of the last photo. There’s no summit marker. It’s just a pile of rocks in the trees. I usually skip it.
This guide last updated on June 22, 2022. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.