- Location: San Jacinto Mountains north of Idyllwild. From I-10, take Highway 243 southeast for a total of 15.8 miles to the Indian Vista parking turnout on the right side of the road, just past mile marker 14.0 and about half a mile past Lake Fulmor. (If you’re coming from the west, make sure you follow the turns to stay on Highway 243 off the freeway). Although the trail is on San Bernardino National Forest land, at no point is any requirement of an Adventure Pass mentioned.
- Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Idyllwild Ranger Station
- Distance: 5.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (distance, elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 3 hours
- Best season: October (or first winter rain) – June (closed from July – first winter rain)
- USGS topo map: Lake Fulmor
- Recommended gear: sun hat; insect repellent; sunblock
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
- More information: Trip report here, Summitpost page here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 8
This enjoyable hike visits one of the most westerly of the major San Jacinto summits. At 5,790 feet, Indian Mountain isn’t high enough to have the Sierra-like feel of the taller San Jacinto area peaks, but it still offers excellent views of almost all of So Cal.
The fire road (4S21) starts a few dozen yards north of the parking area. The hike begins easily enough with 1.3 miles of descent. You’ll see Indian Mountain’s rounded, forested bump in front of you. The trail makes a few switchbacks, providing great views of San Jacinto Peak and its neighboring summits. Below you get a nice aerial perspective on the deep canyon carved by the north fork of the San Jacinto River.
At 1.3 miles, you reach the low point of the hike and begin the ascent, climbing about 900 feet over the next mile and a half. A substantial portion of the ascent is shaded by pines and black oaks, although there are a few exposed spots.
At 2.7 miles, stay left as a spur branches off. Soon after you reach the high point of the road, just south of the peak. Follow any of several informal trails to the top. There may be some bushwhacking involved, but nothing too strenuous. A cluster of boulders marks the highest point on Indian Mountain where you can climb as high as you want and enjoy excellent views of San Gorgonio, the San Gabriels, the Santa Anas, Thomas Mountain, the Palomars and if visibility is good, the ocean.
Text and photography copyright 2014 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.