Tahquitz Peak is said to be named for a leader of the Soboba Indians, Chief Tahquitz, about whom there are various legends. In one particular story, after changing from a loved to a hated chief as a result of evil spirits, Tahquitz' body was destroyed by his tribe, but his spirit escaped to the present Tahquitz Peak. Thunderstorms in the area are evidence of his presence. Legend has it that his spirit still lives there with a rattlesnake and a condor, although the watchful fire lookout cannot corroborate this.
Tahquitz Peak is located along the Desert Divide in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California. From the summit of this alpine beauty, views abound. To the north, Marion Mtn is seen across Tahquitz Valley. Palm Springs can be seen to the east along with the Santa Rosa mountains. Looking south on a clear day in the afternoon, you can see the Mt Palomar telescope dome glittering in the sunlight. Westerly vistas are of the Inland Empire, as well as San Gabriels.
The most direct route to this peak is up the South Ridge Trail; a more scenic ascent is via Devil's Slide from Humber Park. Along the way up you pass through Jefferey Pines, Live Oak, Fir and Lodgepole Pine. This is a very popular hike, but if you choose to do it in the winter or spring you can have less crowds. The hike to this peak can be combined with a variety of other hikes in the San Jacinto Wilderness.
Located within the popular San Jacinto Wilderness on the Idyllwild Ranger District, Tahquitz Peak Lookout is both an important fire detection facility and a hiking destination with expansive views of the Sonoran Desert to the east, and the Los Angeles basin to the west. It is a 20'enclosed timber tower with R514'x14' wooden cab. Built in 1937, it was the last active lookout on the San Bernardino National Forest when it was deactivated in 1993.
Restored in 1998, it returned to service in October and is staffed seven days a week by Lookout Host volunteers. Tahquitz Peak lookout was the second highest lookout in California at 8828'. It is also the forest’s longest continuously operated station, serving some 77 years, and is the only lookout located inside a Wilderness area.
Tahquitz Peak has recently received a facelift, including a new paint job. Many thanks go to Wayne Clark for occasionally providing mules to carry supplies to the lookout. Each mule can carry up to 150 pounds on specially designed packs. In the San Jacinto Wilderness, all work must be done with regular hand tools. No power tools, not even cordless, are allowed.
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.
Tahquitz Peak can be climbed year-round. Late Spring and Summer will be a busy time on the trail and water may not be available in creeks (be sure to filter before drinking)
Do not under-estimate the winter conditions, sections of trails can be very exposed with serious drop-offs while snow is present. Be comfortable and confident with crampons/in-steps, ice is frequent along the trail in late winter/early Spring.
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
Camping is not permitted at Humber Park nor on the trails to Tahquitz Rock, although many climbers spend the night in, or next to, their vehicles in the parking lot. Running water is not available at the trail heads.
There is ample camping available in the town of Idyllwild year round. Idyllwild Park is just west of Idyllwild on Riverside County Playground Road. Price is $15 a night with hot showers for a nominal fee. (909)659-2656
Idyllwild Campground is located just north of Idyllwild along CA Hwy 243. Rates vary $12-16 nightly depending on time of year. Hot showers and flushable toilets available. (800)444-7275