4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Climb Tahquitz Peak in the San Jacinto Mountains, and visit one of the few active fire lookouts remaining in Southern California.

Tahquitz Peak celebrates a legendary demon who, in the oral tradition of the Cahuilla Indians, used to dine on maidens and create crackling bolts of lightning over the San Jacinto Mountains. At an elevation of 8828 feet, the forest lookout tower perched atop the peak commands a view westward over haze and smog to the crests of the Santa Ana and San Gabriel Mountains. On rare days of crystalline visibility, the coastline at Santa Monica and Malibu can be glimpsed, as well as the offshore islands of Santa Catalina and San Clemente.

The direct approach to Tahquitz Peak is by way of the South Ridge Trail out of the mountain hamlet of Idyllwild. First, you'll have to obtain a wilderness permit from the Forest Service station in Idyllwild's town center, off Highway 243. South of the town center, take Saunders Meadow Road to Pine Street, turn north for two blocks, turn right (east) on Tahquitz View Drive, and then right again on South Ridge Road, Forest Road 5S11. If your car is sturdy enough, drive up this dirt road for 1.5 miles to the South Ridge trailhead.

The no-nonsense trail ahead (three miles with 2000 feet of elevation gain) takes you steadily uphill along a viewful ridge, first through Jeffrey pine, live oak, and fir, then past thickets of low-growing chinquapin and stalwart lodgepole pines. Off to the left (north of the trail), you may see or hear some of the many rock climbers who gingerly make their way up the sheer face of Lily Rock (colloquially known as "Tahquitz"). Finally, after many switchbacks, you reach the fire lookout structure atop Tahquitz Peak. The lookout is staffed from May through November. Walk around the structure to enjoy the complete summit view encompassing the timbered slopes of the southern San Jacinto Mountains and innumerable valleys and ridges spilling west and south.

After taking in the view, descend from the lookout the way you came. The following longer, looping return is possible as well: Head northeast, join the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) after 0.5 mile, and follow the PCT 1.3 miles north to Saddle Junction. Descend Devil's Slide Trail 2.5 miles to Humber Park. There, you can arrange to be picked up. Or, you can close the entire long loop by hoofing it 2.6 miles down the gently descending Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail to Tahquitz View Drive, not far away from the dirt road leading to your starting point.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

San Diego in books - Henry Miller, Rick DeMarinis, Max Miller, Alfred Alcorn

Don Bauder, World Almanac, Louisiana Purchase Exposition Commission
Next Article

San Diego Asian Film Festival 2021 sampler

Reviews of Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, Inside the Red Brick Wall, and Islands

Tahquitz Peak celebrates a legendary demon who, in the oral tradition of the Cahuilla Indians, used to dine on maidens and create crackling bolts of lightning over the San Jacinto Mountains. At an elevation of 8828 feet, the forest lookout tower perched atop the peak commands a view westward over haze and smog to the crests of the Santa Ana and San Gabriel Mountains. On rare days of crystalline visibility, the coastline at Santa Monica and Malibu can be glimpsed, as well as the offshore islands of Santa Catalina and San Clemente.

The direct approach to Tahquitz Peak is by way of the South Ridge Trail out of the mountain hamlet of Idyllwild. First, you'll have to obtain a wilderness permit from the Forest Service station in Idyllwild's town center, off Highway 243. South of the town center, take Saunders Meadow Road to Pine Street, turn north for two blocks, turn right (east) on Tahquitz View Drive, and then right again on South Ridge Road, Forest Road 5S11. If your car is sturdy enough, drive up this dirt road for 1.5 miles to the South Ridge trailhead.

The no-nonsense trail ahead (three miles with 2000 feet of elevation gain) takes you steadily uphill along a viewful ridge, first through Jeffrey pine, live oak, and fir, then past thickets of low-growing chinquapin and stalwart lodgepole pines. Off to the left (north of the trail), you may see or hear some of the many rock climbers who gingerly make their way up the sheer face of Lily Rock (colloquially known as "Tahquitz"). Finally, after many switchbacks, you reach the fire lookout structure atop Tahquitz Peak. The lookout is staffed from May through November. Walk around the structure to enjoy the complete summit view encompassing the timbered slopes of the southern San Jacinto Mountains and innumerable valleys and ridges spilling west and south.

After taking in the view, descend from the lookout the way you came. The following longer, looping return is possible as well: Head northeast, join the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) after 0.5 mile, and follow the PCT 1.3 miles north to Saddle Junction. Descend Devil's Slide Trail 2.5 miles to Humber Park. There, you can arrange to be picked up. Or, you can close the entire long loop by hoofing it 2.6 miles down the gently descending Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail to Tahquitz View Drive, not far away from the dirt road leading to your starting point.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Two things brewing at AleSmith this Halloween

Seasonal special Evil Dead Red Ale gets a haunted maze showcase
Next Article

Gloria’s claims of tackling homelessness seen as cringey

Lou Correa wanted to study China at Kona Kai
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close