Last Saturday Penelope and I hiked to the top of Mt. San Jacinto via Deer Springs Trail. It was our most challenging hike so far, covering nearly 20 miles with 5,200 feet of elevation gain.
San Jacinto is the third tallest mountain in Southern California. If you've ever driven out to Palm Springs, it's that giant mountain that seems to explode out of the desert to the south of the 10 freeway.
There are several routes to the peak, one of which is to ride the tram and then take a reasonably short hike up from there. A much longer route is called cactus to clouds and is about 23 miles up with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain. We chose the next hardest route, up Deer Springs trail.
The Deer Springs trailhead is located less than a mile from Idyllwild. We pulled in to Idyllwild a bit later than we had intended and secured our permit. We hit the trail at 9:30 a.m. and started our way up.
The first seven miles were very gentle, gaining roughly 500 feet of elevation per mile. The scenery was beautiful with changing leaves in hues of gold and orange and lovely views down the mountain. The weather was perfect, nice and cool with a gentle breeze.
We averaged two miles per hour on the way up. For the last few miles we felt great. The seventh mile was the hardest, we gained about 1,000 feet in one mile, but even that wasn't very difficult.
We reached the summit of Mt. San Jacinto at 2:30 p.m. and ate lunch. The view from the top is spectacular especially on a clear day. We took a few photos and then headed down.
We chose a different and slightly longer route for our descent. We passed through several verdant cienegas. Cienegas are basically swamps, but beautiful and in the mountains. The three was hiked through were lush with foliage and water flowing through their muddy banks.
Our route down took longer than we originally estimated and the sun set while we were a couple miles from the trailhead. Being a former Boy Scout I am always (over) prepared and of course we brought our headlamps just in case.
For some odd reason, those last two miles seemed a lot longer than they did nine hours earlier! We ended up back at the car right around 6:30 p.m.
The Deer Springs trail is a wonderful route up to San Jacinto. It was great training for our upcoming cactus to clouds hike. We look forward to doing it again soon.
The setting sun casts a red glow on the ground behind Penelope during our hike down from San Jacinto.
Dave and Penelope pose for a photo after reaching the peak of Mt. San Jacinto.
The view is beautiful from halfway up the Deer Springs trail.