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Hike The Suicide Rock Trail Idyllwild

Hike the Suicide Rock Trail (Idyllwild)

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the Suicide Rock Trail
  • Getting the Free Suicide Rock Trail Permit
  • Recommendations for the Hike
Total Distance (?)7 miles (11.3 km)
Hike Time3-4 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Moderate
Total Ascent (?)1,830 feet (558m)
Highest Elevation7,420 feet (2262m)
Fees & PermitsFree Permit
Dogs AllowedNo
Alerts & Closures (?)San Jacinto Ranger District
Park Phone909-382-2921
Weather & ForecastLatest Conditions
Stay SafeCopy 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

Suicide Rock Trail Directions 2
Here’s the San Jacinto Ranger Station. Parking is in the lot in front of the entrance.
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Look for the board in front of the entrance to find the permit. You can show up here 24 hours a day. The permits are outside that station.
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You want the “all other trails” permit.
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Fill out the permit, and then leave the white copy in the box at the board. Keep the yellow copy with you.

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

Suicide Rock Trail Directions 6
There’s a medium-sized parking area at the Deer Springs trailhead. Parking is free; no parks pass or Adventure pass is needed.

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.

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Garmin Inreach Mini 2

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

Lone Peak 6 Yellow

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 Ergo Poles 2

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

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: REIAmazon 
Men’s Latest Prices: REIAmazon 

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated June 2022.

My June 2022 Top Gear Picks

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

Suicide Rock Trail Directions 1
Keep your eyes open for logs, sticks, and rocks that block off unofficial side trails.
Click Here To View

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.

To access this guide when out of cell phone range on the trail, simply save the webpage on your phone ( iPhoneAndroid ).

Elevation Profile

Hike The Suicide Rock Trail Elevation
It’s all uphill on this hike. You get occasional breathers when the gradient eases up, and overall the climbing is steady without any very steep sections.

3D Map

Hike The Suicide Rock Trail 3d Map
We’ll climb up on the Deer Springs Trail, and then onto the Suicide Rock Trail for the last mile to the overlook, perched above Strawberry Valley.

Why is it Called Suicide Rock?

Historic Idyllwild
The name “Suicide Rock” has nothing to do with actual suicides, but instead, early tourists like these guys from the 1880s. Photo Idyllwild Area Historical Society

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.

Suicide Rock From Tahquitz
If you look at Suicide Rock from the other side of the valley (here from the Tahquitz Peak hike), you can see the vertical cliffs.

Suicide Rock Hike Directions

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Video Directions

Turn by Turn Directions

Suicide Rock Trail Directions 7
Look for the wide path leading up from the right side of the parking area.
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Climb up the wide path as it bears left, avoiding any small side trails.
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Keep hiking until you see the large sign. The Deer Springs Trail starts on the right side of this area.
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The large sign informs hikers about the permit, which you should have already. The permit is good for the two parks that the hike goes through: San Bernardino National Forest and San Jacinto State Wilderness.
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Right from the start the Deer Springs Trail climbs.
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Overall the trail is a mix of sandy soil and rocks. Some sections offer a switchback to ease the grade.
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At just under a mile you’ll reach the border of the state park. Keep hiking up to the left.
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Here’s the San Jacinto State Park sign up close.
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As you climb you’ll get glimpses through the trees of the surrounding mountains, including Tahquitz Peak ahead.
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There are level sections to catch your breath.
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At about 2 miles in you’ll reach the junction of the Suicide Rock Trail. Make the right.
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Here’s the sign from the junction. It’s actually a little longer than 1 mile to Suicide Rock.
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This section of trail is not as steep as the beginning.
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You’ll get nice views of Lily Rock, where modern free climbing was born in the 1930s.

In the 1950s the Yosemite Decimal System, the rating system used for rock climbing difficulty, was invented by climbers using Lily Rock.

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As you continue, the summit of Suicide Rock comes into view.
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Cross over Marion Creek at the gully.
Suicide Rock Trail Directions 23
After crossing the creek you’ll leave the state park and reenter the National Forest.
Suicide Rock Trail Directions 24
Now you have to hike one last short steep section to Suicide Rock.
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And here you are! This big slab of granite is Suicide 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.

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You’ll get postcard-perfect views of Lily Rock and the surrounding mountains.
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There are lots of areas to explore in search of the perfect snack spot. Just be careful around the edges.
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And that’s it. Once you’re done at Suicide Rock, just hike back the way you came.

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.

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