Mount San Jacinto Peak Climbing notes shared by Mountain-Forecast users

  • July 08, 2023
    Peter Genovese from United States

    I hiked San Jacinto yesterday (7/6/2023) with my brother and our two friends who are brothers as well and we started at Deer Springs Trailhead in Idyllwild which is one of the longest trails to the peak at about 19 miles roundtrip (looping east down the Tram trail to the PCT trail to Strawberry Junction and back down do the Deer Springs trailhead). Deer Springs Trailhead on a Thursday basically meant that we had the trail entirely to ourselves for a solid 7 or so miles which was glorious.

    Water sources are abundant on every side of the mountain due to the large amount of rain/snow we had earlier this year so not only are all of the main water sources flowing beautifully, but there are a bunch of smaller creeks that are normally dry, but flowing as well. All water crossings are easy and manageable with normal hiking shoes and there was never any risk of submerging our feet into water. There are several locations along the trail where the actual trail acts as a conduit for some of the water flow until it reaches it's normal channel that flows down the mountain. These sections of water flow on the trail covered anywhere from 5 to 20 feet sections depending on the section you're at. These are easy to navigate and they are wet and muddy but not a big deal and it just causes the bottom of your shoes to be wet/muddy. Just be careful as you walk through because if there are some rocks/boulders that you have to navigate over after these sections, be mindful that your first several steps WILL be slippery on an angled rock so watch your steps after walking through these sections.

    Snow (and Peak) Conditions:
    You'll start coming across some patches of snow on the north facing sides of the mountain. Most of these patches are on the side of the trail and surrounding areas but there are a few spots where the snow is across the trail. Most hikers have made temp trails around them but some snow patches are small enough to step over. The worst of it was at the peak. We stayed to the right as we went up the peak and we ended up picking the wrong route by doing so because we had to trek up through several thick patches of snow. Coming down the peak, we stayed to the right this time to avoid the snow patches we ran into coming up. This proved fruitful because there were no snow patches at all going down to the right which is really a south to south-west path down the peak. I quickly realized why this was the best route to go up and down because it gets the brunt of the sun during the day so all the snow melted off that side already.

    Trail Conditions:
    There are several sections throughout the trail, mostly on the western and north side of the mountain, where trees have fallen more recently and so hikers have created little trail detours around those fallen trees. When you come upon one, take a moment or two to scan the terrain to the left and right of you so that you can identify where the temp path has been created.

    Bug Infestation (Gnats):
    This was my 3rd year in a row hiking San Jacinto and I've never seen so many gnats flying around as during yesterday's trip and I have a strong suspicion that there were so many due to how much water is available all around the mountain. They seemed most prevalent around the water features. They were SO annoying because the moment you stop to take a break, they would mostly start flying around your head and face (not so much your arms or other extremities). This was a real bummer because we were planning on stopping and taking a 20 minute break about 5 miles into the hike but almost immediately realized that this was going to be impossible due to the amount of gnats that would just show up and get in our faces within seconds of stopping. The only way to avoid the issue was to keep hiking, keep moving. We took short breaks but never for too long because like clockwork, they would just start gravitating towards us the moment we stopped. This kept up for most the entire hike but wasn't an issue at the peak due to the elevation, exposure, and elevated wind conditions. If we would have known about this prior to coming, we would have likely brought hats with nets that cover our face or something.

    The experience was worth it, even with the gnats. One of the most beautiful hikes around, especially if you loop around as you go back down. 19 miles in 10.5 hours for us. Started at about 7 am.

  • February 23, 2019
    Brian Groh from United States

    You don't have to summit to enjoy this mountain. And you're in prime conditions to suffer from altitude sickness if you go straight for the top. Have a back-up trail to enjoy.

    If you have the luxury of picking your days- pay attention to the weather and wind conditions and stay away from weekends during ANY part of the year. Starting your day waiting in line at the tram with frustrated/anxious people is a real downer.

    Regardless, the Tram access does limit how crowded this place can get at the top. Even on a jam packed day, it's just a short walk away from the crowds. Especially if you hit the woodsy areas of Long Valley and less popular trails. The majority of people using the tram are doing the short loop or heading for the peak. The other trails are mostly empty.

    Snowshoeing is absolutely breathtaking up here. Trail can be extremely difficult to find in the snow if you're breaking trail. I highly recommend a paper map and mapping apps with redundancy. Micro-spikes are a better option if the trail has been beat down. Half the time I go up planning to snow-shoe, I wind up staying in Micro-Spikes.

    The emergency shelter at the top is freezing cold and breezy to say the least with all of the spaces between the rocks. You would be better off in a tent in most cases. Extreme wind convinced me to shelter there one January evening and the wind blew snow into the shelter all evening. Final Note: I wouldn't even consider using the shelter on a summer evening - full of people with the same brilliant idea. Only worth attempting if you believe you're the only one on the mountain.

    Consider trekking from Idylwilde. The trails are beautiful and the slower pace is a great barrier to altitude sickness. I DO believe you need some sort of trail permit. Do your research ahead of time.

  • May 14, 2018
    Alexander from United States

    If you do not like the cold, NEVER climb Mount San Jacinto in winter, spring, or fall. On Mother's Day this year, my family thought we could climb to the summit from Idyllwild, but I checked the weather there, and the temperature was below 0°C so we were not able to climb the mountain.

    Also, we went up the tram from Palm Springs a few years back and had a snowball fight. It was until we could not stand the cold (about 10 minutes later) and went back to our home in the desert. (Right before we went up the tram, it started pouring rain.)

    Later, we went again. It was not snowy, but cold enough to wear a jacket. (It will be snowing the week after.) There was no snow, so we went on a hike but I became so tired and a little altitude sick so we went back home.

    Overall, I love it at Mount San Jacinto, but the climate can become so unpredictable sometimes.

  • February 07, 2018
    Jesse from United States

    A friend and I did a 2-day trip to the summit via the Marian Mountain trailhead in Idyllwild on Jan 28-29, 2018.

    Snow started and persisted from about mile 1.5 to the summit.

    Snow was packed but not too icy. Spikes would have been nice (read: safer) but the temps had been in the mid 30's to mid 40's which kept the icy spots to a minimum. I'd definitely recommend spikes - especially after this mini-heatwave is over.

    Plenty of flowing water at the Upper Springs Bed Crossing just over .5 miles from Little Round Valley. I suspect this will freeze again after the temps drop again.

    We Camped at Little Round Valley. Probably 3-4 inches of snow at a minimum up there. Try to camp in a place protected by the wind - It gets crazy up there!

    Hiked up to the summit in the morning before the tram started running and had it all to ourselves.

    The last 100 yards were tough without spikes. Had to take it pretty slow as the snow is super packed and slick up there!

    TL;DR: Marian Mountain Trail to Summit 1/28-1/29, 2018 = Decent amount of snow. Spikes recommended as temps drop. Great Hike!

  • July 04, 2017
    Rylee from United States

    Did peak trail from tram June 26 and only snow we saw was a tiny patch under a tree. Entire trail including boulder field at peak was clear and dry. There was a small running stream near start of peak trail for water (treat it first).

  • January 13, 2016
    Dallas from United States

    We hiked to the summit via the Sid Davis shortcut from the tram on January 11, 2016. The trail was well packed snow most of the way without much ice. I walked up in hiking boots about half of the way, then switched to skis and skins for the rest of the trail. My wife used climbing snow shoes the majority of the way without any trouble. I would estimate 4-5 feet of snow at the top. We skied down the eastern face. Snow coverage was good most of the way down and we were able to ski all of the way back to the ranger cabin.

  • January 03, 2015
    Justin from United States

    Just before New Years day we hiked to the summit from the tram. It was icy the whole way up and microspikes would have made the trip a whole lot better. We were in hiking boots and trail running shoes (which are not recommended haha). We started pretty late around 11:30 and got to the peak in about 3.25 hours. The way down was better because it was lightly snowing which gave us better traction but we arrived after sunset so we were in the dark for about an hour. We used offline Google Maps to make sure we were on the trail going up and back since it was our first time. You can still use the GPS when the data is turned off so it saves your battery. It really saved us a lot of worry!

  • December 16, 2014
    Danielle from United States

    We hiked to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto on the main trail from the tram on Sunday, December 14. Snow the entire way, so micro spikes were necessary. Spend the $65! On the rebound to the tram, the snow had some what softened, but the trail is not recommended in plain sneakers. Hiking boots (and now because of snow, with spikes) will get you there. The temperature was approximately 25 degrees at the top, sunny and clear. We started our hike at 9:00 am and reached the summit at 12:00 noon. It took us 2.15 to get down. A few people had already hiked the trail since the snow storm, so it was easy to find our way to the top. Approximately 1 foot of snow at the top and 2 inches at the beginning. This is a moderate hike and very doable for people in shape and used to altitude. It has less altitude gain than Whitney, versus distance. Beautiful Vistas!!!

  • May 07, 2012
    Plitzkin from United States

    During winter months, microspikes are the recommended carry,
    with crampons for the melt-freeze conditions that happens in spring

    The Trail from round valley back to the tram will melt-freeze just from the volume of snowshoers and foot traffic at any time in the winter. The trail up to Wellmans divide
    often times will resemble a luge run. The Sid Davis short cut suffers the same problem.

    There are three established winter routes from the tram. 1.Main trail 2. Sid Davis shortcut. Gene peak traverse
    Ramp to the ranger station often icy at any time in the winter.Yes you can walk the main trail to the top without microspikes or crampons but your stride will be like walking on egg shells. It is all relative to your skill level. Being safe keeps it fun.

  • April 14, 2012
    Derick from United States

    Crampon conditions are pretty rare on San Jacinto. See for a source of regularly updated info. on trail conditions.

  • April 08, 2012
    Ben Jacques from United States

    Hiked in from tramway to Round Valley on Thursday. Trail was covered in snow/ice. Windy with up to 50 mph winds.
    Night time temperatures were 17 degrees with windchill. Take crampons if you plan on attempting this peak.