Mt San Jacinto Hiking | Big Bear Hiking and Activities

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Mt. San Jacinto Hiking

marchThe summit of San Jacinto Peak is the highest point in all of the San Jacinto Range. Mt. Jacinto hiking offers miles of trails, beautiful granite peaks, and dense forest in the high country. There’s an aerial tram near Palm Springs that offers easy access to the San Jacinto Range, otherwise you can enter the wilderness area near the town of Idyllwild. For the truly adventurous, here’s a mini-guide to Big Bear hiking the summit of San Jacinto Peak.


The distance you can achieve while Mt. San Jacinto hiking largely depends on which trail you choose. The distance from the start of the aerial tram to the peak – the most popular and shortest trail – is about 5.5 miles. If you start at the Round Valley trailhead, it will be about 3.5 miles to the summit.

The hike from Idyllwild is quite a bit lengthier. In total, you’ll hike about 19.5 miles round-trip. You gain about 5,000 feet in elevation from the start of the trail to the summit.


Again, the difficulty is dependent on your trail of choice. The Mt. San Jacinto hike from Round Valley is relatively short, and doable for anybody that is relatively in shape.

Hiking from Idyllwild will require you to be in much better shape. The trip is almost 20 miles in total, meaning you’ll need plenty of food and water for the trek.

Trail Options

There are five other trail options besides the two already mentioned for hiking near Big Bear.

One of the most popular Big Bear hiking area trails is the Cactus to Clouds Trail. You gain 10,400 feet of elevation, and you can track the progress of your hike just by looking at the landscape around you.

The Snow Creek Route climbs up the 10,000-foot north face and offers excellent snow/ice climbing. This is the trail of choice during the winter months.


No matter which route you choose, there are beautiful views to be had. The most rewarding view is the summit, of course, but you’ll find landscapes ranging from desert to snow at any given month on San Jacinto.

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When to Climb

The mountain range is available to adventure in year-round. San Jacinto is perfect for snowshoeing and skiing, so don’t be discouraged from visiting if you’re staying in Big Bear during the winter.

Permits/Red Tape

Parking at any of the trailheads – except the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway – requires a National Forest Adventure Pass. These are purchased at any Ranger Station, or from many local merchants, for $5.00 a day – and $30.00 for annual passes.


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