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.
The Best All-Around Hiking Footwear
For most hikers, a hiking shoe is the great choice, and the Moab 2 is a winner. The ventilation is great, they last forever, offer good protection, and have a solid grip. There are sizing options for everyone’s foot in this really comfortable and reliable shoe. This shoe is also a favorite of thru-hikers. The only downside is that they are a little heavy. If you are looking for something more aggressive or lighter, check out the bottom of my gear page.
Latest Price on Women’s Shoe – REI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s Shoe – REI | Amazon
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.
Gaia GPS Mapping App
Smartphones are not backcountry instruments, but almost everyone has one today. And they all have GPS onboard. So I recommend getting a good GPS hiking app like Gaia GPS that supports offline maps. Just make sure to put your phone in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. GaiaGPS not only has smartphone and tablet apps, but also an online planning tool. You can drag the GPX hike tracks from my (or any) guides into the online map and they will sync to your phone. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get up to 40% off here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated April 2021.
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.
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?
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). The GPS smartwatch is nice because it’s rugged, works if your phone dies, and also has a billion other features like sleep tracking, workout recording, etc.
- 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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This guide last updated on January 18, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.
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