Marion for the win – 6th peak for the challenge

Peak Summited2020 Mount San Jacinto
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadMarion Mountain Trail
EncounteredFall foliage
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusNo bugs
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition
Time to bag my 6th peak in the 2020 6pk challenge!
3:40am wake up. 4am on the road. 7am at the trailhead.
After much decision, I chose San Jacinto for my 6th peak in the SoCal 6pk of peaks Challenge. Marion Mtn Trail was suggested but there’s a handful of ways up to the peak. I heard Marion was a STEEP route but on the shorter side. Doing my research, I still settled on Marion although filled with anticipation about the rumored steepness.
Stepping out of the car, it was a balmy 45 degrees and according to the mountain forecasts, due to be in the 30’s at the peak. I came prepared. Skirting the nearby campground, you start in a Black Oak forest. It IS indeed a steep start, but thankfully its made easier with meandering switchbacks.
As you get further up the trail, the black oaks thin out and the various pine trees start becoming the prominent trees of the forest. It’s obvious the winter snows are heavy and harsh by way of the downed trees covering the slopes the entire journey. Since its the end of October, there’s not many flowers but a random 1 or 2 along the way. Currant and bracken ferns blanket the forest in orange between the impressive slopes of boulders and rocks.
I was told the first 3miles or so would be steep so I just kept my focus and pushed though. Being a photographer helps since I take frequent stops for pics. The rock formations are really amazing. The boulders are resting in precarious positions all along the way. There were a few springs along the way too; even one with icicles🥶.
Once you get to the Little Round Valley camp, you get a much needed break in incline. The camp sites had really creative names like Owl’s Hooch, Thunder View and Cooper’s Nest. Past the camp you’ve got about 1.5mi to go. Its another steep stretch of trail, climbing up the steep grade through uneven switchbacks.
You get to the ridge, where various other trails converge. A moment or two further up the trail, you find the stone hut. This is a cool little emergency shelter with bunks and random supplies. Nice little photo op.
Next, its climbing up and up over a boulder field to the top. The scramble isn’t technical but its definitely climbing. I was stoked to see that there was a new sign at the top. The views are spectacular of Palm Springs, San Gorgonio, the Salton Sea etc. It was definitely warmer than 30’s up top. I was in a tank and felt fine.
After my peak pics and lunch it’s back down we go! I was pleasantly surprised this trail was far less intense that I feared. My hike to Cucamonga and Etiwanda Peaks the Friday before, felt more technical and sketchy in places. I also felt more beat up at the end of that one. One thing I noticed was a lack of wildlife. There were a few squirrels and chipmunks near the beginning but perhaps the upper elevations were too cool since it’s getting closer to winter.
San Jacinto was a great way to wrap up the challenge. It’ll be interesting to see how other routes compare when I venture up there again for future challenges. 💪🥳


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.