Hiking To The Tahquitz Peak Fire Lookout With Isla via Devils Slide Trail

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This Saturday I finished hike number 50/52 for the 52 Hike Challenge in 2015. Isla and I decided to drive out to Idyllwild to hike to the fire lookout atop the 8,828ft Tahquitz Peak via Devils Slide Trail. This hike was 8.6 miles round-trip with 2800ft of elevation gain. We tried to complete this same hike back in March, but the amount of snow on the ground made for slow going. We were happy to have perfectly warm and dry weather this time around.

Isla and I got an early start on Saturday and made the hour and half drive out to Idyllwild just as the sun was rising. We made it to the Idyllwild ranger station at about 8:30, and were both more than ready to stretch our legs. I obtained our permit, and drove the short distance up to Humber Park and the Devils Slide trailhead.

Tahquitz Peak Devils Slide Trail Fire Lookout Idyllwild
The Trailhead
Tahquitz Peak Devils Slide Trail Fire Lookout Idyllwild
The Switchbacks Begin

The sea level weather reports for the day were calling for a scorcher. It was great to be starting this hike above 6000ft of elevation, as the temperature was a modest 75 degrees to begin the hike. The first two miles towards Tahquitz Peak are on Devils Slide Trail. This trail is a series of shaded switchbacks that gradually make their way up to a saddle joining a few other trail. Isla was pulling me pretty hard, so we made quick work of the switchbacks, and were halfway to Tahquitz Peak before I had even broken a sweat.

Tahquitz Peak Devils Slide Trail Fire Lookout Idyllwild
Views From The Trail
Tahquitz Peak Devils Slide Trail Fire Lookout Idyllwild
Trail Junction

The trail junction at the end of Devils Slide trail is where we turned right to head towards Tahquitz Peak. There is also an option here to head towards San Jacinto for those seeking a bigger day. The trail towards Tahquitz Peak is the same as the Pacific Crest trail for about a mile before veering off towards the fire lookout. About 1700 feet of climbing had already been completed at this point, and we only had about 1100 left over the final two miles.

Tahquitz Peak Devils Slide Trail Fire Lookout Idyllwild
The Scenes Open Up
Tahquitz Peak Devils Slide Trail Fire Lookout Idyllwild
My Little Hiker

We reached the summit of Tahquitz Peak and the fire lookout after about 1:40 of hiking, and were surprised to see quite a few people enjoying the views from the summit. One group even brought a dog! Isla always loves making friends with other members of her incredible species.  The last time I was up on Tahquitz Peak, the fire lookout was locked up and closed. It was really cool to see a ranger on duty for this day, who was actively scouting for any fire activity.

Tahquitz Peak Devils Slide Trail Fire Lookout Idyllwild
At The Lookout
Tahquitz Peak Devils Slide Trail Fire Lookout Idyllwild
A Peek Inside

The ranger at the look out was a really nice guy named Rick, who happily shared his job and knowledge of the area with the hikers hanging out in his lookout. The Tahquitz Peak fire lookout closed in 1993, but reopened in 1998 and is staffed by volunteers. I asked Rick about volunteering, and the process is pretty simple. I would just need to take a few classes that would total 3 days, and commit to spending 8 hours in the lookout once a month. I’m not sure if they allow dogs, but if they do, you can count me in!

Tahquitz Peak Devils Slide Trail Fire Lookout Idyllwild
Fire Spotting
Tahquitz Peak Devils Slide Trail Fire Lookout Idyllwild
Sweet Appliances

After talking with Rick in the fire lookout, I found a nice spot with a view of the Inland Empire and made a small snack for Isla. She was pretty hungry and ate it right when I filled her bowl. We both hydrated, enjoyed the views, and after a nice break, made our way back down to the parking lot. It was a great way to spend hike number 50 for the 52 hike challenge. I only have two more hikes left, and then it’s on to new adventures!

Tahquitz Peak Devils Slide Trail Fire Lookout Idyllwild
That’s Me
Tahquitz Peak Fire Lookout via Devils Slide Trail
That’s Isla


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20 thoughts on “Hiking To The Tahquitz Peak Fire Lookout With Isla via Devils Slide Trail”

  1. Great post! Loved the video and your very professional-looking logo intro/outro. You are lucky to have such an awesome hiking partner. Just curious, how does Isla weigh in on the decision about where to hike? 🙂 Congrats on almost being finished with completing your 52 Hike Challenge. How do you plan to celebrate?

  2. Very cool. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading Fire Season by Philip Connors. Highly entertaining book about the life of a ranger in a fire lookout in the Gila Wilderness.

    • It was a great time. This one shut down in the 90’s and then reopened as a volunteer run lookout. I’m thinking that’s why they don’t have to be as strict as the state run lookouts. It was really cool to get a glimpse inside.

  3. Another awesome hike, and yay for dogs. I do have a question though. Is it difficult/expensive to get a permit, or just a quick application? Hiking is something I started in Spain where permits aren’t required (or if they are, I’ve never met anyone who has had one or asked me for one), and growing up when I wandered in the woods, we knew all the property owners so it was no problem for me to explore Ohio’s non-fascinating nature 🙂 The only one I had to apply for was Cinque Terre. So I’m just curious about the permit.

    • Almost all of the permits required in California are free and available on a walk up basis. The only exceptions are the really popular hikes in our National Parks (ie Half Dome) , or famous routes like Mt. Whitney. They only take a minute or two to fill out, and most places are self serving kiosks. The permit system is mostly for the safety of the hiker, so that rangers can monitor and match traffic numbers for safety. The only other cost is an Adventure Pass which is required to park in the So Cal national forest areas. It’s only $5 for a day pass or $30 for an annual pass. The fees go towards providing toilettes and trash services at trail heads, so I’m more than happy to pay. As more people discover the outdoors, I’m sure we’re going to see an increase in areas that require permits. I’ve been amazed at the impact of social media, especially Instagram. There are local trails that I used to walk on in isolation, that are now swarmed with college kids swinging around their selfie sticks! I’ve talked with a few ranges about including an education brief on trail etiquette when first timers pick up their permits. Hopefully we can get that implemented.

  4. Hi, I’ve never been hiking or to America but enjoyed watching your video and the glimpse into a different world. looks awesome

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