With my parents in town to watch the girls, Mary and I were able to reschedule our trip to hike Mount San Jacinto that was cancelled in fall 2020 due to the wildfires. We waited patiently for the state park to reopen for overnight camping and got our chance in mid June when the snow was melted and the heat wasn’t oppressive.

We planned for this one night backpack with some great resources:

  • Airbnb to get a great cabin in Idyllwild the night before our hike. It’s about two hours from our house to the trailhead so we wanted to get a good nights rest in Idyllwild. We ended up being about 8 minutes from the trailhead.
  • The Hiking Guy with his turn by turn hike for the Deer Springs Trail
  • San Jac Jon and his trail reports that gave us most up-to-date information on reliable water sources for filtering
  • Mountain Forecast gave us an overview for the evening temperatures at our campsite elevation, at roughly 9,700′

Hiking from the Deer Springs Trail makes it about nine miles from the trailhead to the summit of San Jacinto, gaining over 5,000 feet of elevation along the way. We planned to hit the trail around 7AM on Saturday to secure a parking spot and beat the heat. We got lucky on both as the lot was nearly full upon our arrival. Many hikers use this as a training hike to prepare for Mt Whitney and many begin their hike at 4AM to beat the heat.

Lots of wildflowers
wind twisted tree
View towards Hemet, CA

Mary and I took our time as we hiked up the mountain, taking in the great views, the abundant wildflowers, and the wildlife – squirrels, chipmunks, lizards and birds. We packed efficiently, but still had decent sized packs due to the need to carry enough water past the last water source as well as our larger bear canister to keep all scented items (food, sunscreen, etc.) away from bears and other animals.

We established camp in Little Round Valley, loaded up a daypack and trekked up to the summit. It’s an interesting experience climbing San Jacinto because you can see people who are doing the Pacific Crest Trail (a 2,650 mile long trail from Mexico to Canada), the people who hiked from Idyllwild, and the people who took the tram from Palm Springs to nearly 8,000′ and hiked the final two miles. It’s a real mixed bag.

Little Round Valley meadow and stream for water filtering

After the summit, we hiked back to Little Round Valley to relax and filter some more water. It was nice to sit and enjoy the birds and peacefulness of the mountain. We were the only people spending the night at Little Round Valley so it was quiet. We had dinner and were in bed by 8pm. We woke up around 6am, had breakfast and were descending by 7am. It took us just over three hours to get back to our car.

We celebrated with Gatorades, iced coffees and Rueben sandwiches in Idyllwild. On the way out of Idyllwild, we saw Cal Fire trucks heading to the Flats Fire that had just started that morning. Sad to see fire season starting so early in southern California.

At the summit, 10,834′ elevation

It’s probably the most strenuous hike we’ve done together, but an incredibly satisfying experience. It was a great 20 miles!

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