I’m Brianna and I come from Southern California. Although I have never lived outside of Cali, I’m always looking for new places to visit. I go hiking once a week and recently I got into camping. If I’m not outdoors, I’m likely at work where I oversee the math and science tutoring center at a local city college. So that’s me. Now let’s talk about Mount San Jacinto!
My Experience Hiking Mount San Jacinto
This trail had been on my list for a while since Mount San Jacinto is part of Southern California’s Six-Pack of Peaks (the tallest peaks in SoCal) and I had challenged myself to complete all six in 2020. Unfortunately, the pandemic and local wildfires didn’t allow me to complete all six peaks but I hope to be successful in this challenge by the end of 2021.
I definitely took my time on the way up, since it was my very first time on that trail. The entire hike took 12 hours – 10.5 of which was my actual hiking time. The entire trail was absolutely beautiful! I felt like I saw more on the way down, probably because I had more energy and a lighter pack.
Going up, I kept thinking: “I never knew Southern California had such tall trees”. There was one particular spot that looked like a mini forest with tall trees, super green plants and a mini stream running along the way. The atmosphere was peaceful and it made the hike that much more enjoyable.
As I made my way to the top of Mount San Jacinto, it started to get cold and windy. There is a little bit of rock scrambling before you reach the summit and the high winds don’t make it a lot fun. Once I was at the peak though, I was in awe of the views all around me. I remember trying to find Palm Springs on one side and identify a body of water on the other side.
Overall, it felt great to make it to the top of Mount San Jacinto because at the time it was the highest peak I had ever hiked – 10,834 feet. It was an awesome feeling of accomplishment making it up over 10,000 feet high!
Best Moment Hiking Mount San Jacinto
My favorite moment from hiking Mount San Jacinto was arriving at the stone cabin at the peak. From my understanding the cabin was left behind for those who may need shelter for overnight camping or emergencies. I saw books, notes, emergency supplies and beds when I walked in.
I hope to add more supplies to the emergency kit next time I go up. I honestly thought it was super cool simply because it shows how giving/helpful the hiking community is in Southern California.
A Challenging 8/10 Experience
On a scale of 1-10 I believe that Mount San Jacinto is an 8/10 as far as a challenge. It wasn’t about the miles but rather the elevation. Unfortunately, I got elevation sickness where I started to feel extremely sleepy on the last couple of miles up – I was legit hiking with my eyes closed on some parts.
I don’t like to discourage people from outdoor adventures, so I would suggest first-timers go with people who have done the hike before. I would also strongly recommend doing your own research and be sure to do some “practice hikes” beforehand in order to get accustomed to the elevation.
Where to Stay near the Mountain
If you are adventurous you can camp on and/or near the trailhead. But if you want to explore nearby areas, Idyllwild and Palm Springs are close and are cute places to stay. Palm Springs definitely has more of a city vibe where Idyllwild is a small town in the mountains with nice shops and diners. I don’t know of any hotels but there are tons of Airbnbs up there.
Eco Tips for Mount San Jacinto
There are three big things to keep in mind for hiking Mount San Jacinto in a responsible and eco-friendly way. Firstly, leave no trace. If you carry things up be sure to carry them down (including biodegradable products) and don’t pick anything up and take it with you along the way. This is crucial.
Secondly, if you are going up the mountain with friends, be sure to carpool to reduce the traffic and overcrowding in the parking lots. There is nothing worse than a crowded parking lot! You also have the option of taking the tram up from Palm Springs. Lastly, natural insect repellent and sunscreen are always a good idea on trails and Mount San Jacinto is no different.
Need to Know Before you Go
To cap off this Mount San Jacinto article, I would say make sure you do your research, go with someone who has been before and ensure you bring a tracking device such as the AllTrails app or a Garmin inReach. I would suggest three lights of water, plenty of snacks and maybe even an oxygen tank (from REI or Big 5) for those who expect to feel elevation sickness.
Lastly, check the weather for extreme heat and/or winds and bring extra clothes for weather changes along the way. This is a common thing people tend to overlook in Southern California. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and I wish you all the best on your hike up Mount San Jacinto!