Most people probably think only of hiking San Jacinto peak when they venture into the San Jacinto Mountains, but there are many hiking gems near Idyllwild. I actually prefer to tackle some of those other hikes because you don’t have to commit an entire day or weekend to them (unless, you’re peak bagging, which I completely respect).
One of my favorites is Tahquitz peak. It’s frequented by climbers and lots of locals, and it is 100% dog-friendly! I prefer to hike the South Ridge trail rather than the Devil’s Slide route. You have to get to the the ranger station in Idyllwild pretty early on the weekends in order to get one of the limited permits for Devil’s Slide, and this trail is usually quite crowded. On the other hand, South Ridge trail is typically quieter and the permits are not limited. This trail is about 7 miles out and back, and takes us about 4.5-5 hours with a nice break at the fire tower at the summit. You get nearly constant views of the valleys towards Temecula and Hemet, as well as beautiful views of the southern regions of the mountain range.
Difficulty: Moderate-difficult. There is a steady incline, but no tough scrambling.
Scout loves this trail because he doesn’t have to do a lot of rock scrambling, although he is still learning how switchback trails work. He also loves that he can come home and sleep in his own bed instead of camping because this is a shorter day hike, but that definitely depends on my adventure level for the weekend. Overall, this is a great little hike if you need to escape from the SoCal smog and traffic and feel like you can’t dedicate an entire weekend to a trip (or are hungover like I was).
Just remember to keep your dogs on a leash and have your permit with you! Volunteer rangers are often on this trail, and their motives are to keep you and your fur-baby safe.
Have you ever hiked Tahquitz? Maybe try a different trail to the peak next time! Challenge yourself to do a new route. The wonderful thing about this hike is that you don’t even have to summit to get rewarding views.