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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!