As seen in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook!
Text and photography copyright 2010 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
- Location: Highway 243 north of Idyllwild. From the ranger station, where you will need to get a free wilderness permit, drive a mile north and park on the right at the Deer Springs Trailhead. Idyllwild can be reached either by a 20 mile drive from Hemet on highways 74 and 243 or by a 25 mile drive from I-10 at Banning on highway 243.
- Agency: San Bernardino National Forest, Idylllwild Ranger District; Mt. San Jacinto State Park
- Distance: 6.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 2,000 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, altitude)
- Suggested time: 4 hours
- Best season: May to October
- USGS topo map: San Jacinto
- Recommended gear: hiking poles
- More information: Trip reports here, here and here; Yelp page here
- Rating: 9
I was surprised (and maybe secretly a little disappointed) to learn that Suicide Rock’s ominous name is actually romantic in origin. The 7,528 foot rock was named for two young Cahuilla lovers who jumped to their deaths when they were forbidden by tribal elders to be together. Whether or not the story is true, the fact is that the view from the spot where it supposedly happened is pretty inspiring–and would definitely re-affirm one’s love of life.
The Deer Springs trail heads northeast from the parking lot (a few false trails all congregate above the parking lot, so whichever one you take you’ll end up on the main one). After crossing under some power lines, the trail wastes no time climbing through a pine forest. Occasional glimpses of Tahquitz Peak and Tahquitz (Lily) Rock can be seen through the trees. In addition to the pines, this trail features black oaks and some of the best manzanita trees around.
You wind your way in and out of the trees and boulders for 2.3 miles and arrive at Suicide Junction, where the Deer Springs trail takes off for San Jacinto and another trail continues straight for the last mile to Suicide Rock. (It can be a little easy to miss, but there is a sign for it). At the clearing, make sure you stop to enjoy the views of Tahquitz.
The trail continues, crossing Marion Creek, and soon views to the north open up. Finally, you arrive at a plateau where you will get the best views yet of Tahquitz. It is possible to climb to the true summit, by way of some bushwhacking, but the view from the top is not really any better than from the clearing, so consider the hike complete if you make it this far. No matter how tired you are, you certainly will be anything but suicidal.