Difficulty PG Distance 2.1 to 5 miles General information: Dogs allowed Rating: 7-8 San Jacinto/Santa Rosa Mountains & Joshua Tree Season: Late Winter/Spring Season: Summer

Ernie Maxwell Trail


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

ernie maxwell trail
View of Lily Rock from the Ernie Maxwell Trail
Maxwell Trail Woodlands
Woodlands on the Ernie Maxwell Trail

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.

Ernie Maxwell Trail

  • Location:  South of Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains.  From highway 74, head north on highway 243 to the second of two junctions with Saunders Meadow Road.  Go right, then take a left on Pine, and another quick right on Tahquitz View.  Go about a mile on Tahquitz View (the road becomes dirt on the way) and park at the signed Ernie Maxwell Trailhead.  A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 for a day or $30 for the year) is required. Click hereto purchase.
  • Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Idyllwild Ranger Station
  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 700 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 2.5 hours
  • Best season: April – November
  • USGS topo map: “San Jacinto Peak”
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 8

The Maxwell trail is a great introduction to Idyllwild hiking.  With nice views of Suicide Rock and Lily Rock, the trail makes its way up a gentle slope through a thick forest of pines, mazanita and oaks.

From the trailhead, the trail ascends parallel to the road, and heads northeast toward Humber Park.  Some parts of the trail are exposed but most are shaded.  Just over two miles in, stay straight as the steep climber’s trail to Lily Rock branches off to the right.  Then you enter a particularly attractive grove of trees and cross a creek, soon after arriving at Humber Park, trailhead for the Devil’s Slide and Tahquitz Peak.

While it might not offer the spectacular views of the peak in the area, the Maxwell Trail delivers a lot for what it asks.  In case you were wondering, Ernie Maxwell was the founder of the Idyllwild Town Crier newspaper, so even if it’s been years since you’ve read print media, after you’ve hiked the trail, pick up an issue of the paper in his honor.  Or at the very least, check out the Crier‘s website here.

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