A beautiful bracken fern garden on the Marion Mtn. trail

A beautiful bracken fern garden on the Marion Mtn. Trail

LOCATION: In the San Jacinto Wilderness near Idyllwild.

  The San Jacinto mountains are a personal favorite of mine. The range's granite crags, green forests and deep blue skies awoke the nature lover buried deep inside me. It's where I became addicted to hiking. Like most people, I made my way up to the summit of San Jacinto Peak via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway trail. The steep route up Marion Mountain to Mount San Jacinto is off most hikers agenda. Despite the lack of notoriety this trail is a fantastic alternative to the tramway route. October is the perfect time for this particular hike. The summer heat and smog have dissipated to tolerable levels and the numerous bracken fern gardens along the route display a wonderful array of fall color. If you pick a clear day, the views will be outstanding! A cool forest of white fir and sugar pine shades much of the trail. Higher up, lodgepole and limber pine dominate this classic sub-alpine landscape. On top, you'll be treated to one of the most beautiful panoramas in all of Southern California. Be in excellent shape for this one. The well-constructed path climbs 4,600 feet in 5 1/2 miles! Strong hikers will be rewarded with a host of visual delights and sense of solitude on this excursion to the highest point in the San Jacinto Wilderness.

 Your hike starts in the pines and cedars as it passes Marion Mtn. campground and begins one and half miles of steep climbing. You will then come to a junction with the Deer Springs trail. Turn left on the Deer Springs trail and continue climbing past the small meadow known as Little Round Valley. From here you will switchback steeply for a mile till you reach the trail sign for San Jacinto Peak. Head east 300-yards, past the stone shelter, and you will quickly come to the summit. At this point, you'll have to boulder-hop a short distance to reach the top of Mount San Jacinto. Return the way you came