San Jacinto Wilderness
Unique among designated areas, the San Jacinto Wilderness lies split in half by Mount San Jacinto State Park and its wilderness area, which is managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The boundaries embrace the grand San Jacinto Mountains (elevations from 6,000 feet to 10,000 feet), and the flora and fauna varies from desert to alpine.
Steep cliffs and ridges descend dramatically from pine-covered peaks in the northern half of the wilderness. In the central section, high mountain plateaus shelter lush, stream-splashed meadows surrounded by magnificent forests. In the south, a section known as the Desert Divide lies densely covered with stands of chaparral. On this divide's eastern flank, you'll find several deep, eroded, boulder-strewn desert canyons.
A free permit is required for day hiking and overnight trips within the federal wilderness area. Please see information below about how permits work for long-distance PCT hikers or when crossing into the state wilderness area managed by Mt. San Jacinto State Park.
Permits are free for both federal and state wilderness areas. Both the National Forest and State Park honor each other's day use permit so visitors only need to obtain one for both wilderness areas. Permits are available at the following locations:
- San Jacinto Ranger District, 54270 Pine Crest, Idyllwild, CA 92549
- Self-issued permits will be located to the left of the doors on a permit desk 24/7 beginning September 1, 2020.
- A limited number of permits will be available for entry into the wilderness from the Devils Slide Trailhead at Humber Park on weekends through Labor Day 2021. Permits can be reserved 90 days in advance by calling 909-382-2921 (leave a message if a ranger is not available).
- Mt. San Jacinto State Park locations where self-issued permits are available 24/7:
- Idyllwild Ranger Station, 25905 Highway 243, Idyllwild, CA 92549 (located on a permit desk in front of office)
- Stone Creek Campground, five miles north of Idyllwild on Dark Canyon Road/4S02 (located at a visitor information board)
- Long Valley Ranger Station, located at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (permits are found on a permit desk in front of office)
- The base of the tramway is located at 1 Tram Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262.
- Free permits are available for camping within the federal wilderness area. Please call (909) 382-2921 for locations, availability and reservations.
- $5 permits for camping within the state wilderness area are available through Mt. San Jacinto State Park offices.
Pacific Crest Trail
Visitors with a valid
PCT Long-Distance Permit do not need to obtain an additional permit from the San Bernardino National Forest for hiking and camping in the federal San Jacinto Wilderness. These permits, which are issued by the Pacific Crest Trail Association, are for hikers completing 500 or more continuous miles in a single trip.
- No campfires allowed at any time.
- Persons with a valid California Campfire Permit may use a portable contained-gas or liquefied-petroleum stove or lantern with a fuel shut-off valve
- No possessing or using a hang glider or bicycle.
- Group size limited to 12 people maximum.
- Possessing or using a motor vehicle, motorboat or motorized equipment except as authorized by Federal Law or regulation.
There are 48 miles of trails in the federal San Jacinto Wilderness, including 28 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.
- Deer Springs: The Deer Springs Trail begins on Hwy 243, one mile north of Idyllwild
- Devil’s Slide Trail: Access via Humber Park Trailhead Parking. An Adventure Pass or Interagency Pass is required to park at the trailhead.
- Marion Mountain Trail: The trail begins from the road leading to, and shortly before, Marion Mountain Campground.
- Seven Pines Trail: Reached from Highway 243, approximately 5 miles north of Idyllwild
- South Ridge Trail: Trailhead is located off Tahquitz View Drive in Idyllwild
- Spitler Peak Trail: Trailhead is located on Apple Canyon Rd. about 2.5 miles east of highway 74 near Lake Hemet
- Fuller Ridge Trail: To access trailhead, travel about 7 miles northeast on Black Mountain Truck Trail from highway 243. Make a right on Fuller Spur Rd. High clearance vehicles recommended.
For trails in the wilderness areas of the state park, check the Mt. San Jacinto San Jacinto hiking page.
Keep yourself safe on the trails while protecting your vehicle and valuables back at the trailhead with the following tips:
- General Hiking Tips: Trails in the federal and state San Jacinto Wilderness areas are recommended for the intermediate to expert hiker. Elevations range from approximately 6,400 ft. at the Devils Slide Trailhead to 10,804 ft. at San Jacinto Peak. Please review the Forest Service's hiking safety tips before heading out on your trip.
- Winter Hiking: Dangerous conditions exist when snow and ice conditions are present. This is especially dangerous on portions of trails that are exposed to steep terrain, such as the Pacific Crest (PCT), Devils Slide and South Ridge trails. Visitors should take extreme caution and only go with proper gear (e.g. traction devices, ice axe, etc.) and experience/training using that gear.
- Protect Your Vehicle: You'll be away from your vehicle for a few hours to a few days. Help protect your vehicle and valuables by reading the
Protect Your Carsection on the Forest Service's crime prevention webpage.
More About the Wilderness
The United States Congress designated the San Jacinto Wilderness in 1964 and it now has a total of 32,248 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Forest Service.
Near the center of the Wilderness, two exceptional rock-climbing areas exist: Lily (Tahquitz) Rock, with sustained routes of up to 1,000 feet, and Suicide Rock, with routes up to 400 feet.