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Socal trip
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Chad Eagle

Locale: SoCal
Socal trip on 10/03/2010 15:11:18 MDT Print View

I need some suggestions for a 2-night/3-day trip in Socal. Let's say within a 3 hour drive from San Diego and say no more than 30-35 miles. Taking my wife on her first trip, so I would like good views and established trails, any ideas?

Edward Z
(Fuzz) - MLife

Locale: Sunny San Diego
So Cal on 10/04/2010 09:08:52 MDT Print View

I just did the same thing. #1 suggestion would be San Jacinto Peak via any number of trails. For a longer hike start from the Idyllwild side, for an easier cruise up, take the Tram from desert station and stay in round / tamarack valleys. It has Sierran Views, a running spring pipe, pit toilets, established sites and a meadow full of deer. The view from the summit is awesome. Or, for more coastal adventure, ride the ferry over to Catalina Island and use the trans catalina trail staying in Little Harbor, Blackjack and other seaside campgrounds. Well established trails and even a shuttle if she doesnt dig it. San Gorgonio Mtn has good trails also.... and if it's winter... you must try Anza Borrego Desert on the Collins Valley, Coyote Canyon side. Year round stream, willows cottonwoods and the best sunrises, sunsets and stargazing going. All within San Diego County.

Hope these Ideas spark something! I can send a link to some photos of San Jacinto from a couple weeks ago. Took my 8 year old and 7 year old up there. Just send me your email if that 's the trip you're most leaning towards later.

Happy Trails!


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: So Cal on 10/04/2010 23:42:36 MDT Print View

What kind of shape is your wife in? A great trip would be from Idyllwild up into the San Jacintos, but elevation gain is going to be around 5,000 feet. But there are several routes for variety. Also, water is usually only available year round at Round Valley and Long Valley. And lastly you are going to need permits from two agencies (Federal and State). Starting at the Tram (8,500') is great way for a first trip. You can plan several routes, but water can be a concern. You might want a base camp at Round Valley and do some day hiking.

San Bernardinos are also going to require some elevation gains, and water is usually easier to find.

I love Anza Borrego, but some people do not like the desert scenery at first. It takes a while to appreciate it.

For a first trip, you probably don't want to be too aggressive on the elevation gains. Need to make it an enjoyable trip, so she will want to do more.

There a ton of books available for these areas.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Socal trip on 10/05/2010 11:42:09 MDT Print View

The San Jacinto area would be nice. It may have snowed up there in the last couple of days, which could mean it may melt and there will be more water. I'd check with a ranger or someone to confirm. It's really nice up there.

Also, I'm not that familiar with the San Diego area, but there may be some nice hiking near Julian. I'd see if there's a forest service map.

The PCT is really nice between Barrel Spring (which is near a two-lane highway, not sure which one) and Warner Springs with the highlight being Eagle Rock, a rock shaped like an eagle with wings outstretched. It's slightly off the trail but easy to see. I think it's 9 miles total through oak woodland and oak savannah with a nice resort and hot spring at the end.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Socal trip on 10/05/2010 13:05:15 MDT Print View

Hi, Chad,

I see a lot of folks recommending the San Jacinto Mtns as a first time backpack. I'll add my +1 to that recommendation. Water this year is plentiful. There's still water in the Skunk Cabbage Meadow area, Taquitz Meadow, as well as Little Round Valley.

The tram is about $25 per person (AAA discount available). If you haven't ever ridden the tram, it's worth a ride. The views on a good day are pretty spectacular. From the tram, it's an easy hike to either Round Valley or Tamarack (no water at Tamarack) Camps. From there you can day hike on the middle day to the summit. That'd be a very nice but very easy backpack.

If you don't want to do the tram, you can go up the Devil's Slide trail in the Idyllwild area (Humber Park). You can hike to Laws Camp. There will be water near the camp in one of the two creeks. From Laws you can go down to Caramba as a day hike on your middle day and go swimming below the falls. Lot's of nice options.

For specifics on the SJ's, there's a good forum:


Chad Eagle

Locale: SoCal
re: San Jacinto on 10/05/2010 18:46:05 MDT Print View

Thanks for the ideas. I was considering San Jacinto, but have never been. Would probably be good being my uncle lives in Palm Springs. What are temps like right now, any locals with info? My wife has only gone on day hikes with me, but has done 10 plus miles w/ significant elevation gain in the sierras. That also includes a two year old on her back. What kind of elevation gains am I looking at if I choose not to use the tram? Any sources of info as to reliable water? Any other info on this area would be appreciated.

@ Nick, do you have any recommendations for desert hikes in the socal area?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: re: San Jacinto on 10/05/2010 19:44:06 MDT Print View

I think you have gotten enough information to plan something in the San Jacintos. If elevation gain is not an issue, you could do the Deer Springs Trail to Little Round Valley which is 1.5 miles before the peak. Elevation around 9600 feet. Probably a 10 mile hike with around 4,000' elevation gain. Then you can hit the peak in the morning and start back towards Saddle Junction. Go the the USFS website for camping areas. The 3d day you could back track, and get on the trail to hit the Deer Springs Trail junction back down. If you wanted to do more of a loop, you could enter or exit via the Devil Slide Trail, but once on Highway 243 you would probably have at least a 2 mile hike back to the car on pavement.

Jim provided a lot of great options. I can't comment on current water locations, but seems Jim has up to date information. I avoid the San Jacintos for the most part from June thru September, because of the crowds.

Temps are cooling in the desert right now. I might do the Skyline trail this weekend, which is from the Desert Floor to Long Valley near the tram. If I get an early start and feel good, might go on up to the summit and then back to the Tram for the ride down. That hike is about 22 miles, but the elevation gain is over 10,000 feet.

For current weather conditions go to the PS Tram Website.

For desert hiking Anza Borrego or Joshua Tree. Lots of options and plenty of information on the Web or printed books. I tend to do a lot of cross country hiking in the desert.

Chad Eagle

Locale: SoCal
San Jacinto on 10/05/2010 20:18:36 MDT Print View

Thanks for the input Nick. I think I will give San Jacinto a shot.

Craig Savage
(tremelo) - F

Locale: San Jacinto Mountains
local on 10/05/2010 21:49:46 MDT Print View

<--- Idyllwild local

My wife is a noob hiker/packer.

We started from our house up South Ridge. 1st summit Tahquitz (opt for Devil's Slide outta' Humber if your wife is not moderately fit) epic views, on to Law's Camp in Skunk Cabbage Meadow. Water @ Willow Creek in Law's and ample overnight spots with great views of desert floor.

Over Hidden Divide on the 2nd day and a stopped at the tram for lunch. Back up Long Valley to the before mentioned State spots for overnight.

3rd day looped back to Saddle Junction and down to Humber.

We've had a cold snap, overnight was 36 with a high of 49... this would make the Skunk Cabbage Meadows area nippy at +2000ft on Idyllwild.

Take care of State/National permits in one stop at the Idyllwild Ranger Station. Have fun & hope it helps!