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A Traveler's Guide to Hiking in Idyllwild, CA

Idyllwild is a beautiful part of California close to the San Jacinto Mountains. Many of those who visit this destination do so to enjoy the outdoors. One of the best ways to explore the diversity of the surrounding landscape is to hike, and there are many trails in this area to suit different ability levels. Each of the trails has different features in terms of both the scenery and the challenges. Here is a traveler's guide to hiking in Idyllwild, CA.

Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail

According to Idyllwild Vacation Cabins, one of the most popular hiking trails in Idyllwild is the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail. It is an easy hike that is 2.6-miles long. It begins on Fern Valley Road, and there are several streams to cross along the way, and the trail is lined with various tree species.

Cahuilla Mountain Trail

Although the Cahuilla Mountain Trail is only 2.5-miles, the elevation of the trail means that it is classed as moderately difficult. The trail begins at Cahuilla Saddle, then heads through the forested area on the northeast slope and through a Research Natural Area. At the summit, there are stunning views across the surrounding area, including the area through which Juan Bautista de Anza traveled during his 1776 expedition.

Webster Trail

The Webster Trail is another trail that is only short at 2.5-miles, but that has challenges in terms of the terrain and elevation that make it better suited to fit and active people. This trail begins on Forest Road and descends west towards the San Jacinto River. Along the first section, the trail is lined with Jeffrey pine trees before taking you over a ridge and then to an area of streamside willows. At various points along the trail, there are spectacular views of the Hemet and San Jacinto valleys.

Fuller Ridge Trail

Visitors will need a permit to complete the Fuller Ridge trail, as it is one of the area's wilderness trails. The Fuller Ridge Trail is a moderate hike that covers five miles, and the first half is not too strenuous as it takes you along a timbered ridge above Snow Creek. However, the second half of the trail is the more strenuous portion. From where the trail meets the Deer Springs trail, there is a steep elevation that leads to San Jacinto Peak.

Suicide Rock via Deer Springs Trail

All Trails lists the Suicide Rock via Deer Springs Trail as one of the best hikes in Idyllwild, CA. This moderate out-and-back trail is just under eight miles long, and most of the hike is uphill on the way out. Suicide Rock is a fantastic spot to enjoy the views across the San Jacinto Mountains and across Strawberry Valley. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, and there are many plant and tree species along the way. To complete this trail, visitors need a free day-use permit.

Marion Mountain to San Jacinto Peak

The trail from Marion Mountain to San Jacinto Peak is one of the longest trails in the area, at almost 12miles, so you should set aside a full day if you intend to complete this trail during your visit to Idyllwild. It is one of the trails that requires a free day permit, and it is best to attempt the trail during the summer months when the ground is dry and firm. Although the trail has some elevation, there are no particularly steep sections. Due to the length and uneven terrain, this trail is ideally suited to experienced hikers.

Tahquitz Peak via Devils Slide Trail

Tahquitz Peak via Devils Slide Trail is an eight-mile out-and-back trail that is rated as moderate. You will need a permit to use this trail, but these are free. It is a good option for those who have brought their dog along on their vacation, as dogs are allowed on the trail on a leash. The trail takes you through the San Jacinto Wilderness, and there are sections with steep elevation gain. Experienced hikers can complete this strenuous trail in under three hours, although those who are less fit should allow longer for rest breaks.

San Jacinto Peak Middle Route Trail

Experienced hikers looking for challenges should hike the San Jacinto Peak Middle Route Trail, as this is one of Idyllwild's most challenging trails. Not only is the trail 16-miles long, but there is also a steep elevation and varied terrain to tackle. Due to this trail's length and difficulty, it is a full-day out-and-back hike, and visitors will need a free day permit. Although it is free to hike this trail, there is a fee for parking permits if you arrive at the trailhead in a vehicle. Although dogs are allowed on some sections of this trail, you cannot take dogs on the first third, which is State Park Land.

Devils Slide Trail

Devils Slide Trail is a moderate out-and-back trail that is 6.5-miles long. It is best to complete this trail during the summer months, as some of the roads leading to the trail are closed in cold weather due to snow and ice. Although there is not too much elevation gain along the trail, slopes, rocks, and icy patches mean the terrain is often challenging, so wearing appropriate footwear is essential.

San Jacinto Peak Loop Trail

There are two options for completing the 18.5-mile San Jacinto Peal Loop Trail, First, set out first thing in the morning and set aside the day for the hike. The second option is to complete half of the loop trail one day, camp overnight, then complete the second half the following day. This trail begins in the town of Idyllwild (, then leads to Little Round Valley, which is just below the summit and is where you will find the campsite. The return trip heads along the eastern trail, which features a river and crosses Wellman's Divide, before looping back to Strawberry Junction.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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