San Diego Trail Tramps

  7528' Suicide Rock - Mt. San Jacinto State Park Wilderness - Idyllwild, CA

Date:  SATURDAY, June 8, 2013 (A Post-hike Potluck BBQ is planned in Idyllwild at a hike member's home.)

Location: About 1 mile due north of Idyllwild, CA in the Mt. San Jacinto State Park Wilderness, on the southwest slopes of Mt. San Jacinto

To access the trailhead of Deer Springs Trail up to Suicide Rock: Google Maps can provide detailed directions from your current location to Idyllwild. From Hillcrest/San Diego, driving time will take 2 hours and is about 105 miles. SAN DIEGO TRAIL TRAMPS HIKERS PLEASE DEPART FROM OUR HILLCREST CARPOOL LOCATION BY 8:00 AM, TO ARRIVE AT THE TRAILHEAD BY 10:15 AM. THE HIKE WILL BEGIN AT 10:30 AM.

After reaching Idyllwild, continue north on Hwy 243. The Deer Springs trailhead is located across from the Idyllwild Nature Center, about 1 mile north of town center on Hwy 243. The trailhead will be on the right side of the road with a sign telling you where it is at. Park across from the nature center on a large dirt pull-out. A few paths begin at the pull-out, but all lead to the Dear Springs Trail. The Deer Springs Trail is one of four maintained trails that climb up the west face of San Jacinto Peak. The others being Marion Mountain Trail, Seven Pines Trail, and the Fuller Ridge Trail.

NOTE: For a great .pdf topo map (1.4 MB) of the area, with trails and campsites shown, CLICK HERE.

Suicide Rock has a few different ways to approach. There is also an alternate trail which leads to the base of Suicide Rock for rock climbing access. The approach has a groomed trail and begins across from Fern Valley Road. Walk down the hillside, cross Strawberry Creek, then turn right on Forest Haven Road (a paved road). Follow Forest Haven to the end where it becomes dirt. When it becomes dirt you will see a trail on your left. It is on this trail where it gets a bit steeper. The trail will bring you to the base of Suicide Rock. The trail brings you to the Buttress of Cracks, the Main Sunshine Face and Weeping Wall.

Background info.:
Elevation at the trailhead is about 5628 ft. A branch of this trail takes you about 3.3 miles up to 7528' Suicide Rock with a gain of about 1900 ft. from the beginning of the trailhead. However, if you only make it about 3/4 mile, there is a beautiful rock vista offering a fantastic view of the valley stretching west to Hemet and a stunning view of Tahquitz Peak to the east. From Suicide Rock, hikers are awarded with beautiful panoramic views of Idyllwild and the rugged, granite cliff of Tahquitz (Lily) Rock. The Deer Springs Trail continues on up to San Jacinto Peak, with a gain of 5200 ft. from the trailhead.

A Forest Service Adventure Pass is required for parking at the trailhead and Wilderness Permits (free) are required for both the National Forest and the State Park Wildernesses. (If you park across from the trailhead, at the Nature Center, a Forest Service Adventure Pass may not be required.) Hike leaders, be sure to get a Wilderness Permit at the Ranger Station in Idyllwild. They're free and cover a group of up to 12, per pass.

Wilderness Permits may be obtained from the Idyllwild Ranger Station just off SR 243 at 54270 Pine Crest Road. There is a self-issue permit stand outside of the ranger station. Permits may be obtained in advance from:

• San Jacinto Ranger District
• 54270 Pinecrest
• P.O. Box 518
• Idyllwild, CA 92549
• Voice: (909) 382-2921, 382-2922
• Fax: (951) 659-2107

Don't forget your 10 Essentials. At least, be sure to bring 2 liters of water, lunch, snacks, layers of clothing, sunscreen, camera, & hiking poles if you use them.


Trail Guides:
California Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Ann Marie Brown
Day Hikers Guide to Southern California by John McKinney
San Bernardino Mountain Trails - 100 Hikes in Southern California by John W. Robinson

Hike Description:
A beautiful, relatively easy (but very uphill) hike. Distance: 6.6 miles roundtrip, up and back on a well-maintained trail. Hiking Time: ~5-6 hrs. Elevation Gain/Loss: 1900'. Difficulty: Moderate to Semi-Strenuous. Easy if you're in good shape! ;^)

A few paths begin at the pull-out, but all lead to the Dear Springs Trail. The steady ascent to 7,528-foot Suicide Rock (named for a local legend of two Cahuilla Indian lovers who threw themselves off the rock rather than be separated by the tribal chief’s orders) will get your thighs burning, but reward your senses. Manzanita trees with smooth, chocolate-colored bark and patches of bright blue/violet lupine decorate the high-desert terrain at the start of the hike. Black oaks pepper the trail, and towering pines mark the arrival of an alpine landscape on approach to the summit. Follow the well-marked route 2.3 miles to the signed Suicide Junction. Continue straight (or "gaily forward!" as the case may be) for 1 more mile to the pinecone-strewn summit.

When the trail ends, walk 100 feet to your right, circling around giant boulders to a secluded lookout spot with spectacular vistas. There is a register in a smiley face can at the top. Feel free to explore all around the edge of Suicide Rock. There are plenty of viewing platforms, but be careful near the edge, for obvious reasons! South across Garner Valley, you’ll see the rolling hills of the Pacific Crest Trail and glittering Lake Hemet. To the southeast, Lily Rock and Tahquitz Peak feel a stone’s throw away across Strawberry Valley. Lay back on the warm granite slabs and take it all in!