Idyllwild trail sign

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The Ultimate Guide to Idyllwild Adventure

Perched in the San Jacinto Mountains, Idyllwild is a alpine escape for outdoor enthusiasts looking for mountain trails and climbing.

There are so many things to do in Idyllwild, California, it's hard to know where to start. This idyllic Southern California mountain town - pardon the pun - offers a rich bounty of rockclimbing crags, mountaineering peaks and trails for hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Located in the rugged San Jacinto Mountains, it's hard to believe Idyllwild is just couple of hours of Los Angeles and San Diego.

This guide offers a general introduction to the Idyllwild-Pine Cove area, including tips for getting started on your adventures, including lodging, camping, trails and climbing areas.

Table of Contents:

  1. Getting Oriented
  2. Idyllwild Camping
  3. Idyllwild Hiking Trails
  4. Idyllwild Mountain Biking Trails
  5. Idyllwild Climbing Areas

Getting Oriented

Idyllwild sits at an elevation of 5,400 feet in the San Jacinto Mountains of Riverside County, within Cleveland National Forest. The town is flanked by two rocky crags, Tahquitz Peak and Suicide Rock, which are iconic Southern California rock climbing destinations.

Idyllwild, and its neighboring towns, Pine Cove and Fern Valley, are mountain destinations year-round for Southern Californians looking to escape the lower-elevation heat in the summer or take in the (often) snow covered mountains in winter. The areas is popular playground for climbers, hikers and mountain bikers.

In contrast to the desert and chapparel of lower elevations of SoCal, the Idyllwild area, known generally as "the Hill" by locals, is dominated by ponderosa pine forests. A great way to learn more about the natural and cultural history of the area is to visit the Idyllwild Nature Center, located one mile northwest of town on Highway 243.

Idyllwild Camping

There are quite a few options for camping in Idyllwild, from developed state park campgrounds to backcountry camping in San Bernadino Forest.

Mount San Jacinto State Park Campgrounds

California State Parks manages two drive-in campgrounds in the area Idyllwild and Stone Creek. Sites can be reserved by calling 1-800-444-7275 or online at ReserveCalifornia.com (search for "Mt. San Jacinto SP"). For more information on these campgrounds call 1-951-659-2607.

Idyllwild Campground

Idyllwild Campground Map

Idyllwild Campground is a developed campground located just on the edge of downtown Idyllwild, making it a convenient basecamp for exploring town and the nearby backcountry. The campground offers 33 campsites, including seven sites with RV hookups, three of which have full hookups and four with electrical hookups only. The campground can accomodate RVs and trailers up to up to 24 feet in length.

Amenities at the campground include showers, flush and vault toilets, potable water, picnic tables and fire pits.

Location: 33.747506, -116.714308

Stone Creek Campground

Idyllwild Campground Map

Stone Creek Campground is the larger of the two Mount San Jacinto State Park campgrounds in the Idyllwild area. The campground is located about six miles north of Idyllwild (3 miles from Pine Cove), and sits at an elevation of 5,900 feet. The campground is easy to access, just off Highway 243.

Stone Creek offers 50 sites, twenty two of which are tent only. About half of the sites can accomodate RVs or trailers up to 24 feet in length, and 12 of those are set aside as RV or trailer-only sites. Amenities include fire pits, picnic table and pit toilets.

Reservations for Stone Creek Campground are accepted from May through October. In winter, the campground is open until the first snow on a first-come, first-served basis.

Panorama Point Trail is a short loop hike that begins and ends at the camgpround.

Location: 33.792554, -116.731872

San Bernardino National Forest Campgrounds

Fern Basin Campground

Fern Basin Campground is located in a picturesque grove of mixed oaks and shrubs about 6.5 miles north of Idyllwild. Situated at an elevation of about 6,300 feet, the campground's mixed conifer forest provides shade and an alpine atmosphere.

The campground is open from late May to early November, and reservations can be made 6 months in advance at Recreation.gov

Fern Basin Campground offers 19 campsites that include picnic tables and fire pits. Other amenities include vault toilets, dumpsters and possibly potable water. The campground can accomadate RVs and trailers up to 20 feet in length.

The campground is located near the trailhead for Marion Mountain Trail, a strenuous 11.8-mile out-and-back trail that is the shortest trail to San Jacinto Peak (see below).

Location: 33.788581, -116.737734
Information number: 1-909-382-2921

Marion Mountain Campground

Marion Mountain Campground is located about 6.5 miles north of Idyllwild, about half a mile from Fern Basin Campground at the end of Marion Mountain Campground Road. The campground is situated at an elevation of 6,400 feet in a forested area of mature cedar and pine trees that provide ample shade and privacy between campsites.

The campground, which is open from May to early November, offers 25 sites, nine on a first-come, first-served basis and 16 that can be reserved at Recreation.gov. Amenities include picnic tables, fire pits, vault toilets, trash cans and potable water. The campground can accomadate RVs and trailers up to 20 feet in length.

Marion Mountain offers rock climbers a number of sport climbs right in the campground. The campground is also a great base camp for hiking. The rugged Marion Mountain Trail to San Jacinto Peak starts in the campground, as does Stone Creek Trail.

Location: 33.792554, -116.731872
Information number: 1-909-382-2921

Dark Canyon Campground

Dark Canyon Campground is currently closed due to heavy storm damage.

Location: 33.792554, -116.731872

Black Mountain Group Campground

Black Mountain Group Campground is a large group campground with a single site located about 16 miles north of Idyllwild at an elevation of 7500 feet. The campground can hold a maximum of 100 people and 50 vehicles. The rough roads to the campsite make it difficult to access for vehicles that don't have high clearance.

The site offers picnic tables, fire pits with grills and vault toilets. Drinking water is available two miles away at Cinco Posa Spring tap, along Black Mountain Road.

The campground is open from late May to late October, and reservations can be made six months in advance at Recreation.gov.

The Fuller Ridge Trail, which serves as part of the famous Pacific Crest Trail, is located just steps away from the campground. Starting at 7,600 feet, the trail follows the high, timbered ridge above Snow Creek, offering spectacular views of the desert. From there, it joins Deer Springs Trail and a strenuous climb to San Jacinto Peak, at 10,804 feet in elevation.

Location: 33.832405, -116.739894

Boulder Basin Campground

Boulder Basin Campground

Boulder Basin Campground is located 13.5 miles north of Idyllwild, near Black Mountain fire lookout, at an elevation of 7,300 feet. The campground, which offers solitude and primitive camping, is located in a mixed conifer forest of Ponderosa and Sugar pines and other conifers provides ample shade and privacy. The campground popular campsite for climbers who enjoy the areas many boulders.

The campground, which offers 32 sites, is open from late May to late October, and reservations can be made 6 months in advance at Recreation.gov. Amenities include fire pits, picnic tables, The campground can accomadate RVs and trailers up to 20 feet in length.

The Black Mountain Lookout Tower is accessed via hiking a dirt road from the campground and offers breathtaking views of the area. The road to the campground, Black Mountain Road (4S01), is an unpaved forest road not recommended for low clearance vehicles or trailers.

The campground provides access to a number of trailheads, including the Black Mountain Trail, a 3.6-mile, moderately strenuous hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trail that travels through the forested slopes of Black Mountain. The trail provides excellent views of the Banning Pass and Mt. San Gorgonio. The trail provides access to the famed Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, which begins at the Mexico border in Southern California and leads to Washington border of Canada.

Location: 33.825600, -116.754931
Information number: 1-909-382-2921

Idyllwild County Campgrounds

Idyllwild Hiking Trails

Trails near Idyllwild

Deer Springs Trail

Suicide Rock Trail

Marion Mountain Trail

The 11.8-mile Marion Mountain Trail is the shortest route up the mountain, but is also quite strenuous in areas. Views from the peak extend to the ocean and across the Palm Desert, as well as the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains on a clear day.

Black Mountain Truck Trail

Guide Details

General Location

Coordinates: 33.746866, -116.715259
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Getting There

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