Terri Peak Hike at Lake Perris
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance||5 miles (8.1 km)|
|Hike Time||2-3 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||1,100 feet (335m)|
|Highest Elevation||2,569 feet (783m)|
|Fees & Permits||Park Entry Fee|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Lake Perris State Recreation Area|
The hike to Terri Peak, which towers over Lake Perris and offers panoramic views, is a hidden gem. It’s located in Lake Perris State Recreation Area, a park noted more for water sports than hiking. The trail to Terri Peak climbs through boulders and offers plenty of gradual sections to catch your breath and take in the views. You can either hike to the top and back, or you can do the full loop for even more views.
Getting to the Terri Peak Trailhead
There are a few ways to hike to Terri Peak, and this guide will show you the loop hike which I find the most beautiful. You’ll do most of the hike between the lake and the mountain, which offers great views going up and down.
There is an entry fee for the park unless you have a California State Parks Pass.
The trailhead is next to the Ya’i Heki’ Regional Indian Museum (pronounced ya-hee eh-key and meaning “home of the wind” in Cahuilla). You can use this trailhead address:
17801 Lake Perris Dr, Perris, CA 92571
If the parking lot at the museum is closed, you can park nearby at the Fisherman’s Lot.
There are bathrooms at both parking lots.
Gear for the Hike
This entire hike is exposed, so when the sun is out, it can be brutal. Bring sun protection and lots of water (at least 1.5L). I hike this with light hiking gear, but you can certainly get away with fitness clothes.
My Goto Hiking Footwear: La Sportiva Wildcat
If you hike a lot or just want the best (but not the most durable) hiking footwear, the Wildcat trail runner is your best move. It’s fast and light on trails, the sole gives me good grip off-trail or scrambling, and they dry quickly.
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Best Budget Day Pack: REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack
Bang for the buck, you can’t go wrong with this pack. It’s super-lightweight and big enough to carry everything for a day hike, including a water bladder. Every year REI improves this pack and after a few years, it’s really solid in every way. I pack mine in a carry-on when I travel to do hikes on trips. And if you’re into ultralight backpacking, this is also a solid choice.
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Stay Safe Out of Cell Phone Range
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Garmin InReach Mini (REI | Amazon | My Review) fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated October 2020.
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 offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Terri Peak Loop Trail Maps
The first part of the hike is on small trails that, for the most part, are easy to follow. There are small, unmarked use-trails that branch off at points, but I’ve noted most of them in the directions below. After the peak you’ll descend on larger trails that are shared by mountain bikes. The last part of of the loop ends at a road. If you’ve parked at the museum, there’s a 5 minute walk in the dirt along the side of the road. If you parked at the Fisherman’s Lot, you walk on the paved pedestrian path to the start.
Download the Hike GPX FileView a Printable PDF Hike Map
How are you going to navigate this hike?
To start, you should always have a paper map and compass. And it helps to print this guide out or save it on your phone. I highly recommend a GPS as well. I use the Garmin Fenix 6 smart GPS watch ( REI | Amazon | My Review) with maps (or the more affordable Garmin Instinct). You can also use most smartphones. Check out my navigation recommendations and resources on my top gear picks page for options at all budget levels.
- At the beginning of the hike there’s an interpretive display warning you about mountain lions. Don’t be scared. According to the rangers they get about a dozen reports of a mountain lion sighting each year, most of which are probably a bobcat (harmless to humans) that lives around Terri Peak. Expect to see rabbits, squirrels, lizards, and hawks.
- Lake Perris is a humanmade lake, finished in 1973, and part of the California State Water Project. It’s a popular spot for waterskiing and fishing, and even has an artifactual tire reef habitat. Scientists determined that anything over a 7.5 magnitude earthquake (big) will break the 2-mile long dam.
- Don’t drink the water from the lake, even if filtered. It has high mercury and toxin levels.
- Terri Peak (at 2569 ft) is not the highest point in the park, but it is the highest point with a trail to it. The highest point is nearby Mt Russell at 2704 ft.
- In the winter this hike is lush and green. In the summer and fall it’s dry and yellow. The late winter and early spring is a good time to see wildflowers and California Poppies.
- The Ya’i Heki’ Regional Indian Museum is essentially the visitor’s center for the Lake Perris State Recreation Area, and is worth a visit if open. From the big glass windows inside you can see the lake and Mt San Jacinto.
- If you want to make a day of it, do the hike first thing in the morning, then take a bike ride around the lake (9 miles and flat), and then have a picnic lunch.
Terri Peak Loop Hike Directions
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Terri Peak Hike Video
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Turn by Turn Directions
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.