Tahquitz Peak (via Devil’s Slide Trail)

Tahquitz Peak
Fire lookout tower

Objective: Summit Tahquitz Peak, San Jacinto Mountains, California
Distance: 8.4 miles (out and back)
Peak Elevation: 8,846′
Elevation Gain: 2,512′
Difficulty: Strenuous

Tahquitz Peak is on the southern flanks of San Jacinto Peak. It begins from the popular PCT oasis of Idyllwild and ends at one of the best fire lookout towers in southern California.

Directions to Trailhead

Drive east on the 210. Head east on the 10. At Banning, take exit 100 for CA-243. Turn right on CA-243 S/S 8th Street. Make a left at W Lincoln Street. Turn right on CA-243 S/S San Gorgonio Avenue and continue 24.3 miles on CA-243. At Idyllwild, turn left on Pinecrest Avenue. Stop at the Idyllwild ranger station for the permit. From the ranger station, turn left on Pinecrest Avenue. Make a slight right on South Circle Drive. Turn left on Fern Valley Road. Park at the end of the road at the Humber Park parking lot.

Directions to Summit

Trailhead: Hike along the Devil’s Slide Trail.
2.5 miles: At Saddle Junction, turn right onto the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).
3.9 miles: At the junction, turn right and climb the South Ridge Trail. There will be a spur trail to the peak and lookout tower.
4.2 miles: You have reached Tahquitz Peak. Turn around and head back.

Tahquitz Peak
Looking back at Saddle Junction

Trek Highlights

The Devil’s Slide Trail begins with a stone staircase. The name is spot on. Only a devil would make a trail with no switchbacks. It is just one long slide down the mountainside. On this trail, there is only one speed going up – low and slow like BBQ.

There are some switchbacks before reaching Saddle Junction. As an aside, switchbacks have always reminded me of a visualization of a soundwave. As the path trail becomes steeper, the soundwave oscillates rapidly and the music becomes louder.

The path is redolent of the fragrance of crushed pine needles. On the way, there is a white-headed woodpecker, which has a little tuft of red on its head.

The trail to the top follows the cliff’s edge and you definitely feel nervous with the stunning and steep scenery to the right. You can see for miles above the valleys and ridges. In case you are wondering, the rangers do check permits and they are nice and informative. At the fire lookout tower, you can ask for a squirrel card. The lookout host can make you a member of the Ancient and Honorable Order of Squirrels. The San Bernardino Mountains have seven fire lookout towers and you can collect a different squirrel card at each one.

After the hike, check out Idyllwild, which is a hiker’s haven along the PCT.

Red Tape

Display your adventure pass. You must fill out a self-issued permit at the Idyllwild ranger station (54270 Pine Crest Avenue, Idyllwild).


The Cahuilla people tell stories about Tahquitz , the first shaman, who used his power to help them. Over time, he became corrupt and the people banished him to a cave below Tahquitz Peak.


Stone staircase
Devil’s Slide Trail
Saddle Junction
PCT Junction
Tahquitz Peak sighting
Tahquitz Peak
Almost there
Tahquitz Peak
The views on top of Tahquitz Peak