Hike Log

Marion Mountain to Mt. San Jacinto: Revenge of the Snow


Marion Mountain

Type of Hike:

Day hike

Trail Conditions:

Trail difficult/impossible to navigate


Snow and ice on road


No bugs


Trail snow-covered at times – Gear and expertise recommended

We embarked on we thought would be a 6-hour day hike at the very most! However, we ended up spending a total hiking time of 10 good whole hours, 6 of which were spent trying to ascend the mountain while on 2-5 feet of fresh powder snow. The trail continuously ascended for a straight 5 miles with little or no spots to recover from each switchback or steep climb that came our way! And the most challenging part: About 80% of the trail was snow-covered, as the San Jacinto Wilderness had just gone through a decently-sized snowstorm about two days back. So, right when we started our climb, we were already introduced a decent number of snow patches right in the middle of the trail. Snowshoes and warm gear are definitely a must on this trip, as snow levels are definitely much higher than average on this trails. The places with the most extreme ascending conditions would have to be the final climb to Little Round Valley or the final climb from Little Round Valley Campground to the actual peak. Unfortunately, the switchbacks right before Little Round Valley were completely snow-covered, so we had to essentially trailblaze our way through past the switchbacks and climb directly up to the campground. That was one of our more serious obstacles that we had to overcome! Little Round Valley Campground (about 4 miles into the trailhead) was completely covered. The chemical toilets that the campground was known for were 90% entrenched in snow, as I only saw the tip of the door to the entrance. We managed to catch our breath here before conducting the final ascent to the peak. That was the most significant challenge of our trip. I started to get altitude sickness just from the sheer steepness of the climb. Unfortunately, this impaired my ability to actually stop and take in the magnificent alpine views. However, we were approached by another hiker who was descending the mountain and he gave us some words of encouragement. As a result, our adrenaline kicked in and we powered through the last quarter-mile or so. We noticed that the path that had been carved in the snow completely missed the snow cabin that's near the peak. We weren't able to spot it until we started descending down the peak! The carved path actually took us straight to the peak, and, my goodness, was it surreal. We had a section of the view that was completely cloud-covered, another section that was completely desert, another section that consisted of more mountain peaks and alpine wilderness. Having access to all these views from that one spot literally put me in a trance. I couldn't believe that we officially climbed a mountain peak. We literally were higher than the clouds. We literally did it. Honestly one of the most breathtaking, painful, and life-changing hiking experiences to date. I would seriously recommend this hike to any avid individuals out there who want to try something completely out of the ordinary, but I would say go once all the snow melts. Unless you want to challenge yourself with breathtaking rewards, of course! As for parking, when we arrived there was still tons of black ice and snow right before the trailhead parking area, so we had to park about 0.2 miles away from the parking lot (which wasn't too bad). Aside from that the road conditions are fairly good the whole way!


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.

Make This Summer a

Summer of Adventure

Sign up for news, get 10% off your registration!

AZ Summer 20% off early-bird rate ends in