Wednesday, April 29, 2009

PCT: Fuller Ridge Trail to San Jacinto Peak

My first hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) was in July 1991 when I hiked along Fuller Ridge in the San Jacinto Mountains in preparation for a hiking trip I did with my scout troop on July 27th, 1991. Fuller Ridge is one of the most beautiful hikes in Southern California. It follows the craggy ridgeline west of San Jacinto and Folly Peaks and provides alternating views of the Banning Pass and Mt. San Gorgonio to the north and Idyllwild and Mount San Jacinto State Park to the south.

To get to Fuller Ridge you take the Black Mountain turnoff, off Hwy 243 outside of Idyllwild, and drive 7.5 miles up a dirt road. We camped Friday evening, July 26th, at the trailhead and were hiking the next morning by 7:00 a.m. Below, Glen Provence, Ryan Kalama, Noah Kalama, Damien Gray and Ricky Cromar near the beginning of the hike with the San Bernardino Mountains in the background.

The trail, although relatively stable elevation wise, has lots of dips and turns as it switchbacks back and forth to avoid rocks, trees and crags. The trail follows Fuller Ridge for 3.9 miles. One of the most beautiful portions of the hike is a view of Folly Peak. Below, Gregg Palmer, Damien, Ricky, Noah, Glen, Ryan Belka and myself.

Below, Gregg, with an even better look at the spectacular Folly Peak.

After traversing Fuller Ridge, the PCT switchbacks up 1.9 miles and nearly 1,000 feet until it connects to the San Jacinto Peak Trail, at 8,725 feet. Along that section there are two small streams that provide water. They are the upper portion of the North Fork of the San Jacinto River. Below, Gregg obtains water at the stream closest to Fuller Ridge while we wait for some of the others to catch up.
At the junction of the San Jacinto Peak Trail we turned left to go to San Jacinto Peak. The PCT goes right and in a short distance reaches Deer Springs and Deer Springs Camp. Below, I stand in a meadow with skunk cabbage in Little Round Valley.

Below, Damien Gray and Scott Brennen sit in the rocks at the summit of San Jacinto Peak, at 10,804 feet. It is one of the most spectacular summit views anywhere, with a precipitous drop on the north side. It was a smoggy day, so the view was not as nice as it can be.

On our way back, I have a photo of the second stream which is part of the North Fork of the San Jacinto River, the one closest to the San Jacinto Peak Trail.

Gregg's knees were hurting him as we switch-backed down to Fuller Ridge.

A view of the craggy Fuller Ridge.

We did not get back to Fuller Ridge Trail camp until 7:00 p.m. and were very tired after the 16 mile round trip hike.

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