Difficulty R Distance 5.1 to 10 miles General information: Dogs allowed Rating: Perfect Tens! San Jacinto/Santa Rosa Mountains & Joshua Tree Season: Fall/Early Winter Season: Summer

Tahquitz Peak


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As seen in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook!

“Rock window” on the way to Tahquitz Peak
Lily Rock, viewed from below the Tahquitz summit

Tahquitz Peak

  • Location: San Jacinto Mountains near Idyllwild.  From highway 243 in Idyllwild, south of the ranger station, go northeast on North Circle Drive.  Go 0.7 miles to a four way intersection and take a right on South Circle Drive.  After 0.1 miles, go left on Fern Valley Road.  At 1.7 miles, pass the parking lot for the Ernie Maxwell Trail and continue 0.1 miles to Humber Park.  A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 for a day or $30 for a year) is required. Click here to purchase. A free San Jacinto Wilderness permit is also required and available from the ranger station.  On weekends, a Devil’s Slide Trail permit may be required instead of the wilderness permit due to the trail’s heavy use.
  • Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Idyllwild Ranger Station
  • Distance: 8.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2,400 feet
  • Suggested time: 5 hours
  • Difficulty Rating: R (Steepness, altitude, elevation gain, distance)
  • Best season:  May – October
  • USGS topo map: “San Jacinto Peak”
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles
  • More information on the Idyllwild Ranger District here.   Information about the Devil’s Slide trail here.  Trip reports and pictures here.
  • Rating: 10

Tahquitz Peak (elevation 8,828 feet) is the second most prominent summit in the San Jacinto range.  The peak is named after a legendary Cahuilla Indian shaman, who was banished after abusing his powers, disappeared into the sky as a giant fireball and placed a curse on his tribe.   Depending on whom you ask, Tahquitz is either pronounced “TAW-kwish” or “TAW-kits.”

Of course, regardless of how you pronounce the peak’s name, you still have to climb it.  Tahquitz can be approached from the south, but the most popular route is from Humber Park.  The Devil’s Slide trail leaves from the parking lot, switchbacking up the ridge and gaining 1,700 feet in 2.5 miles.  As you ascend, you will get great views of nearby Suicide Rock, as well as Lily Rock (also known Tahquitz Rock), which towers over the parking lot.  Lily Rock is said to be the birthplace of technical rock climbing in the U.S.

Your life gets a little easier at Saddle Junction, where you take a right onto the Pacific Crest Trail and head south.  On your left will be some great views of the desert far below.  After a little over a mile, take a right on the South Ridge trail, go half a mile and take a left on a short spur to the summit.

The lookout on the peak was built in 1938 and is staffed by volunteers.  From the summit, you can see the Santa Rosa, San Jacinto and San Bernardino mountains, and on clear days the Santa Anas, San Gabriels and even the ocean.  Die-hards may may want to retrace their steps down the South Ridge trail and continue on to Red Tahquitz, or perhaps continue along the South Ridge trail and make a giant loop, but most hikers will find the 8.5 mile round trip outlined here to be more than adequate a workout–with a lot of scenic rewards.

Text and photography copyright 2012 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.  By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail.  Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

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