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: San Jacinto Mountains, north of Idyllwild. From I-10 in Banning, take the exit for highway 243 (8th St). Follow highway 243 for 15 miles up into the mountains (note that near the beginning, you must take a left on Lincoln St. to stay on highway 243. Make sure you follow the signs). Shortly after the Black Mountain trail head, look for a San Bernardino National Forest sign indicating parking for Lake Fulmor. The lot is on the right side of the street, across from the lake. A National Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 for a day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click here to purchase.
- Agency: San Bernardino National Forest, Idyllwild Ranger District
- Distance: 0.5 miles
- Elevation gain: Level
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Suggested time: 30 minutes
- Best season: Year round
- USGS topo map: “Lake Fulmor”
- More information: here
- Rating: 8
Most people who have heard of Lake Fulmor – and there aren’t many – know it for its fishing, but there’s a short walking trail around the lake that’s well worth visiting too. Lake Fulmor is easy to miss – only 3 acres in surface area – but it’s one of those little gems that reminds you that sometimes in Southern California, especially when it comes to nature, there’s more than meets the eye.
The lake sits at about 5,300 feet above sea level, surrounded by scenery that could easily pass for the Sierras, or possibly the Great Smokies. Heck, maybe even the Alps. The tall pines that border the lake are reflected in its still waters, and the scenery is made more interesting by a giant rock poking out of the south shore.
The walking trail goes around the lake, crossing a bridge and passing by a fishing pier. Other than the occasional car passing by on highway 243, the lake is peaceful and quiet. There are picnic tables which make a great place to have lunch before or after the walk.
Needless to say, the trail around Lake Fulmor is not one of the epic hiking expeditions of the San Jacinto Mountains, but it’s a great little excursion, and a perfect introduction to the natural beauty of the Idyllwild area. Even if you’re on the way to Palm Springs for completely non-hiking purposes, I’d recommend this trip as a detour. Lake Fulmor might not look impressive on the map, but it’s a place that no So-Cal hiking enthusiast should miss.