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“Sweeter than Candy on a Stick”

Peak Summited2021 Mount San Jacinto
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadDeer Springs
EncounteredWildflowers blooming
Hiking CompanionsHiked with a group
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusBugs were not too bad
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsMinor obstacles posing few problems

Great hike today (6/5). Hike #3 of the “Original” Six Pack of Peaks Challenge.

Mount San Jacinto via the Deer Springs “Lollipop” Loop Trail.

I met up with some friends that I haven’t hiked with for a while at about 0500 and we began our hike right around 0530. To my surprise, when I arrived at the trailhead parking at about 0430, there were already a half dozen or so cars parked and two tents right off the road.

Temps were great. Mostly likely in the upper 40’s as we began our hike and probably in the low 80’s at the height of the day. The Summit was perfect. Mid 50’s and little to no wind, but it was a bit busy. We opted to drop our packs at the hut, quickly head up the find rock scramble, take in the views and take photos for a few minutes and then headed back down to the hut for a little break and some chow.

The trail is easy to follow and well-marked, although the beginning has about three different routes to cover the first couple of tenths of a mile. Either route will get you to the same location. The first part of the hike was a 2.3 mile trek on the Deer Springs Trail to the Suicide Rock Trail and had an elevation gain of about 1,280 feet. From there we headed north, continuing on the Deer Springs Trail to Strawberry Junction. This was about 1.8 miles and another 1,150 feet in elevation gain. We continued in a northerly direction but now of the PCT, for another 2.3 miles and only 600 feet in elevation gain. At this point we were at the junction where the PCT/Deer Springs trails meet up with the Marion Mountain and Seven Pines Trails. This first 6.4 miles had a total elevation gain of around 3030 feet. Again the trail was easy to follow and well maintained. There are no opportunities on this first part of the hike to filter water.

We continued on heading east / northeast. The first half mile continues on the PCT, but then the PCT turns north on the Fuller Ridge Trail. We continued northeast on the Deer Springs Trail another 1 mile to Little Round Valley. This 1.5 miles had another 1,160 feet in elevation. There was a pretty good water source coming from Deer Springs just before the PCT turns off onto the Fuller Ridge Trail. It’s probably safe to say that source will be there for another few weeks, but it will be gone soon due to the current drought. There was another water source about a half mile past that one, but it will most likely dry up much sooner. It was another mile from Little Round Valley to the intersection of the Deer Springs Trail, Peak Trail and the Summit Trail. This portion of the trail had another 800 feet in elevation gain. After that it was a .3 mile push to the summit.

We opted to drop our packs at the hut before heading up to the summit (no shame there, 😉 ). The summit weather was perfect. There were several other hikers’ at summit when we arrived and several coming down as we approached. A normal busy San Jacinto Peak Saturday. We took in the views, took some photos and headed back down to the hut to enjoy some food and rest before heading back down.

As we began our descent we past several more hikers heading up to the peak. It was like a non-stop herd of grazing cattle slowly working their way up to the summit. We opted to head down the Summit Trail to complete a loop instead of just doing the out and back. The views coming down this way as awesome and endless. Completing this loop took us 2.7 miles, mostly a southerly direction, from the summit down the Peak Trail and on to Wellman Divide.

From Wellman Divide we continued south for another mile, past Wellman Cienega (it was wet, but no water to filter) and met back up with the PCT. We then headed west on the PCT for 2.3 miles to Strawberry Junction. There was a pretty good flow of water at Strawberry Cienega, which is about halfway to Strawberry Junction; and a little bit of water flowing at Marion Creek near Strawberry junction. However, it won’t be there long with the drought continuing and warmer weather taking hold on the mountain.

We then headed south 1.8 miles back down the Deer Springs Trail to the Suicide Rock junction. Followed by our final 2.3 mile push down the Deer Springs Trail and back to the trailhead. Altogether, we ended up with 19.5 miles and about 5,341 feet in elevation gain. Once done we headed into town to celebrate our hike with a much deserved meal at the Lumber Mill. Great food, but the restaurant was pretty full and there was only one server working a dozen or more tables. Service was very, very slow.

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