The Deer Springs Trail is one of the more underused and is definitely an underrated trail in the Mt San Jacinto State Park Wilderness
. The Deer Springs Trail is one of four maintained trails that climb up the west face of San Jacinto Peak. The others being Marion Mountain Trail, Seven Pines Trail, and the Fuller Ridge Trail. However, all these trails converge into the Pacific Crest Trail
at one time or another. The PCT takes up about 2.8 miles of the trail when taking this route to San Jacinto Peak. This trail is very well maintened and is an excellent alternative to the crowded trails that go up the backside of San Jacinto Peak
When I hiked this trail, I saw plenty of deer and lots of springs, so the name is well given.
This same trail can also be used for accessing Folly Peak
, Jean Peak
, Miller Peak
, Marion Mountain
, Drury Peak
and Suicide Rock
Also, dress accordingly to the weather. In summer months, it can be very hot around the trail head, but the temperature usually gets cooler as you gain more elevation.
Lastly, permits are required for entering the State Park. Inside the state park, no fires or dogs are permitted
The Deer Springs trail starts at around 5620ft in San Bernardino National Forest. After going less then .5, you cross in into Mt. San Jacinto State Park. The fist 2.3 miles gains around 1,280ft in elevation and is very dry (after spring that is). After hiking this section, you reach a junction to Suicide Rock (which is one mile from this junction). Head NE (don't take the Suicide Rock Trail, unless of course you are doing Suicide Rock). After this, you hike upwards about 1,140ft and then you arrive at Strawberry Junction. From here, you join the PCT. Head north following the PCT.
The PCT portion of the trail is around 2.8 miles, as said in the overview. From Strawberry Junction the to the Marion Mountain and Seven Pines Trail junction, you gain around 600ft in 2.3 miles. This section of the trail is very undulating and almost becomes annoying knowing that you still have to gain lots of elevation. From this junction, you head east and gain around 300ft of elevation over .5miles. You then reach the last segment of the PCT (which becomes the Fuller Ridge Trail), which keeps running NW along the mountain.
With the departure of the PCT, the Deer Springs Trail begins again. The real elevation gain begins here. This part of the trail is around 1 mile and gains about 860 feet to Little Round Valley. After reaching Little Round Valley, keep heading upwards (east). Its about 1.3 miles to The San Jacinto Peak Junction with about 800 feet of elevation gain along the way. At the junction, head north about .3miles and gain almost 204 more feet in elevation. After this, you reach the summit, which is very rewarding.
Camping and Water Supply
For camping, there are two designated campsites along the trail. The first being at Strawberry Junction, which boasts a fabolous pit toilet. However, water supply here can't always be depended upon.
The next campsite is at Little Round Valley. As the name implies, there is a little valley along with a spring. This camps also has a pit toilet. This little valley (and the creek running through it) serves as one of the sources of the headwaters to the San Jacinto River (which is mostly dry in the valley below). However, the water at this campsite is a lot more dependable then the water at Strawberry Junction.
Depending upon the season and the amounts of Snow/rain fall, some springs may be dry or running. Deer Springs can almost be counted upon year round, however, it is best to contact the Ranger Station for full and updated water information. When I hiked the trail in late June 2008, I saw no water below Strawberry Junction, however, just past Strawberry Junction and for the rest of the trail, water was plentiful and even covered the trail in many sections.
Boots, plenty of water, map/ compass, and sun protection.
The same as mention above, but also snowshoes, crampons, and an ice axe might be needed as well. Also, warm clothes would be a good idea.
Getting ThereFrom Banning
- If your on the 10, take the 8th Street exit and head south. Take a left on Lincoln Street and head west. Take a right on San Gorgonio Ave (which becomes Hwy 243). Take this road for about 25miles. There will be sign along the road telling you where the trail head is at. It will be on the left side and there will be two turnouts.
Head north on the Hwy 243 for about 1.3 miles. Trail head will be on the right side of the roads with a sign telling you where it is at.
San Bernardino National Forest
San Jacinto Ranger District
54270 Pine Crest
P.O. Box 518
Idyllwild CA 92549
Mt San Jacinto State Park
29505 Hwy 243
P.O. Box 308
Mt San Jacinto State Park