Red Tahquitz is a relatively obscure peak that stands to the east of Tahquitz Peak, hidden from view as it rests behind the Lookout when viewing from northwest as on Devil's Slide Trail. One of a number of sites named after the feared demon Tahquitz, who was known by Indians throughout southern California, and was believed to inhabit the San Jacintos. This peak affords great views of Tahquitz Valley, Marion Peak, and Mt San Jacinto to the north. To the south, the fantastic Desert Divide of the San Jacinto Mtn Range, the Salton Sea and the desert floor can be seen quite clearly. The peak is covered with lodgepole pines, most of which are nearly dead, and the signature red rock is scattered across the entire summit and approximately down 100' on all sides.
It is composed of igneous rocks such as the distinctive red granite, and other rocks of volcanic origin. The rock here is very ancient and different than everything else around it, and for some reason some spots yield a very spooky hollow sound when walked on. Also it still remains a mystery why so many people report "hearing things" and "feeling funny " when on this peak. The USFS constructed a fire lookout here consisting of a timber tower with a 14'x 14' wood cab (ca. 1925), although there remains no obvious evidence of it. With a keen eye or telescopic lens, you can see the Lookout Tower on Tahquitz Peak and most of the descent trail along the mountain side.
Peak 8792 on left, Red Tahquitz on right as seen from trail to Tahquitz Peak.
Directly to the west of Red Tahquitz summit is Peak 8792; it is rather prominent when seen from Tahquitz Valley and the traversing trail to Tahquitz Peak. It stands over Red Tahquitz by 70', therefore hides it from view unless you are on the PCT and south of the peak. Although formed by gargantuan granite boulders, this peak is mainly chossy and any scrambling produces a rainfall of debris.
Desert Divide looking north from Antsell Rock.
To the south is the string of HPS peaks beginning with South Peak as the closest also along the PCT, along with Antsell Rock, Apache Peak and Spitler Peak. Makes for a nice loop if your logistics provide for two vehicles parked two trailheads.
Red Tahquitz was added to the HPS Peak List in 1959.
You must first get to the quaint little mountain town of Idyllwild and find your way to Humber Park for the trailhead. Idyllwild is located on the western slope of the San Jacinto mountain range. This quiet hollow sits at 5300' with an elevation gain up to 6300' at Humber Park trail heads.
From Hemet, take CA Hwy 74E to the CA Hwy 243 junction in Mountain Center. Turn left at "Y" in road and continue on the 243 to Idyllwild.
From Banning, take I-10E to CA Hwy 243S to the town of Idyllwild.
Once in Idyllwild, follow North Circle Drive to Humber Park where the road will circle around through roadside parking and toilet facilities.
From Humber Park, start on the Devil's Slide trailhead near the toilet facilities at the turn-around parking lot. Devil's Slide will switchback a gradual incline for approx 2.5 miles to Saddle Junction, rewarding you with beautiful views of Suicide Rock and Tahquitz as you make your ascent to approx 7500'.
From the sparse wooded area of Saddle Junction, pay attention to all signs posted pointing the way to several different trails. Take the Tahquitz Valley trail for about half a mile and the next trail junction. A left turn here takes you to Laws Camp and a right turn will take you to Tahquitz Peak and PCT.
Turn right and head for the next junction in approx a mile, here you can turn right for Tahquitz Peak, but take the left and follow PCT for approx 1.5 miles. Peak 8792 will be on your right, hiding Red Tahquitz from view; keep following the trail which winds around Peak 8792. When the trail begins to head south, you will see the rusty red rocks on Red Tahquitz peak; look for "ducks" that mark trail start of switchbacks to the top.
Parking at Humber Park will require a National Adventure Pass which can be purchased at the Idyllwild Ranger station or several of the local merchants for $30 annually. For another $5, a pass can be purchased for a second vehicle. Daily passes can also be purchased for $5.
Additionally, you will need a hiking permit, available at the Idyllwild Ranger Station. Of all my travels up Devil's Slide Trail, I have only once not seen a friendly ranger hanging out at Saddle Junction checking for permits. My daughter swears she saw a llama, but I think she was hallucinating.
San Jacinto Ranger District
P.O. Box 518
Idyllwild, CA 92549
Voice: (909) 382-2921
Fax: (951) 659-2107