A BEGINNER BACKPACKING TRIP TO MOUNT SAN JACINTO STATE PARK
TRIP · 3 day backpacking trip
FOR · Beginner backpackers
PERMIT · Yep, you'll need to apply for a wilderness permit!
VIBE · A steep climb at parts, but there'll be awesome views!
COST · $ - $$
DRIVE · 2.5 hours from LA and San Diego
IDEAL DATES · May - June or September - October
PETS · Not allowed in the backcountry
WHY MOUNT SAN JACINTO STATE PARK?
Mount San Jacinto State Park has 54 miles of hiking trails, prominent peaks, like Mt. San Jacinto Peak (10,804 ft), the second highest mountain in SoCal, two campgrounds & four backcountry wilderness camps: Round Valley, Tamarack Valley, Little Round Valley & Strawberry Junction. Unlike other treks, you can ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up most of the mountain! A tram ticket costs $27 per adult, and it's a 15-minute ride to get to ~8,000 feet. Backpacking in Mount San Jacinto State Park just got a little easier :)
The Cahuilla tribe once used this area for seasonal hunting. Their trails still cross the mountain, and bedrock mortars can be seen in the park
The northeast face of the San Jacinto Range plunges down 9,000 feet in less than four miles. It's the steepest and most spectacular slopes in North America.
NEED TO KNOW
🌲A Wilderness Permit is required for all overnight trips. Permits are $5 a person. You have to snail mail your permit request, alas, but you can submit it at least two weeks or up to two months ahead. You can also walk up to Idyllwild Ranger Station to pick up a wilderness permit the day of, but wilderness campgrounds might be all reserved.
🔥You can use gas backpacking stoves, but open campfires aren't allowed in the backcountry
⛰️You'll be camping at high altitude so drink plenty of water and take time hiking along the trails. Watch out for altitude sickness symptoms like dizziness, dehydration, headaches & nausea.
⛺Backcountry camping is only allowed in four designed wilderness camps: Round Valley Tamarack Valley, Little Round Valley & Strawberry Junction
🚗Parking at Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is $10 per car or RV. Coachella Valley residents can park for free! Check their hours of operations to make sure you time the ride with your trip!
💞San Jacinto Trail Report is a project by Jon, a local resident, who voluntarily provides the latest trail & water conditions in the San Jacinto Mountains. Thank him by donating to his site!
LEAVE LA BY 10 AM & GRAB LUNCH AT SHERMAN'S DELI & BAKERY
- Diners love their french dip & pastrami sandwiches
- Located at 401 E Tahquitz Canyon Way in Palm Springs
- Open everyday from 8 AM - 9 PM
LAST PIT STOP · Shell - 50876 Seminole Drive in Cabazon
PARK AT PALM SPRINGS AERIAL TRAMWAY
- Trams leave every half hour. Buy a tram ticket and enjoy the view!
HIKE FROM UPPER TERMINAL MOUNTAIN STATION TO ROUND VALLEY
- It's a two mile trek to Round Valley wilderness campground
- Make camp and settle in for the night
...IF YOU'RE FEELING AMBITIOUS, CLIMB CORNELL PEAK
- It's a one-mile road trip hike from Round Valley to Tamarack Valley. Once you reach a trail junction at the Tamarack Valley sign, follow the trail on the left and hike north through the campsites onto the steep slopes of the peak visible straight ahead. Head slightly to the right of the apparent summit area, passing rock barriers generally on their east side until you find the main ridge line.
RETURN TO CAMP & COOK UP DINNER
CAR TO CAMP: 2 miles | 535 ft. of elevation gain | 3 hours
BREAK CAMP & HEAD BACK TO UPPER TERMINAL MOUNTAIN STATION
- Practice Leave No Trace & check your campsite for any litter
- Take the High Trail to Willow Creek Trail, a 2 mile hike, back to the tram
- Trams leave every half hour and the last tram down is 8 or 9 PM, depending on whether it's a weekday or weekend, respectively
CAMP TO CAR: 2 miles | 653 ft. of elevation gain | 2 hours
COOK UP BREKKIE & PREP FOR A DAY HIKE TO SAN JACINTO PEAK
- Pack sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, bug spray, at least 2 liters of water, snacks & lunch
- It's a 5.8 mile round-trip hike, with 1,683 feet of elevation, to the top of San Jacinto Peak
- Take Round Valley Trail to Peak Trail. Prepare for a steep climb, but you'll be rewarded with stunning views.
- Enjoy your lunch at the summit!
CLEAN UP, REST & RELAX BACK AT CAMP
- Chillax, cook up dinner, and enjoy your last night in Mount San Jacinto State Park!
CAMP TO CAMP: 5.8 miles | 1,683 ft. of elevation gain | 5 - 6 hours
LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL
Your outdoor experiences helps everyone have a safe & memorable time in nature. Tell us about your trip to Mount San Jacinto State Park & tag @bewilder_camp if you used this itinerary!
LAST UPDATED: June 15, 2021
EXPLORE MORE TRIPS
BE THE FIRST TO KNOW
Every week, we feature unique camping trip itineraries (like this) for your friends, families & furry ones. Join our community and find your next outdoor adventure.