For backpackers who want to venture into the wilds past our local hiking trails, camping is permitted within zones in the San Jacinto Wilderness and the Mt. San Jacinto State Wilderness Area.
Consists of 35,000 acres of wilderness managed by the US Forest Service. Divided into seven wilderness zones.
Permits are required for camping and day hiking and are available at no cost from the Idyllwild Ranger Station at Highway 243 and Pine Crest Drive.
Permits are required for open wood fires and may be obtained from the Forest Service. It is highly recommended that you obtain a permit in advance. Also, it’s important that you check with the ranger station in advance for current fire restrictions.
A total of 400 campers are allowed in this wilderness area at any given time
10,000 acres of wilderness administered by Mt. San Jacinto State Park. Of the 49 campgrounds available in this area, only Round Valley, at an elevation of 9,100 feet, has piped water. Streams are located at campgrounds in Tamarack Valley and Little Round Valley, but the water needs to be treated before drinking.
Permits are required for camping and day hiking and are available at no cost from the San Jacinto State Park headquarters on Highway 243. Permits are limited.
The best camping area in this zone is along Chinquapin Flats Trail — Pacific Crest Trail about a quarter mile south of Saddle Junction. There are two yellow-post sites for people with fire permits. The closest water is in Skunk Cabbage. Zone capacity is 75.
Skunk Cabbage Zone
This is the most used and, consequently, the most abused area in the wilderness. Camping is not allowed in the meadow because the ecosystem is extremely fragile. There is one yellow-post site for people with fire permits. Water is available at the north end of Skunk Cabbage Meadow and at Will Creek. Zone capacity is 75.
Easy access, lots of water and lush vegetation make this zone very popular. There are two yellow-post sites for people with fire permits. Water is available almost year-round in this zone. Zone capacity is 50.
North Rim Zone
Although this zone covers a large area, there are few suitable camping areas because of its steep terrain. Because of erosion problems, camping is not allowed at Willow Creek Crossing. Water is available in this zone. Zone capacity is 75.
Lower Basin Zone
A lot of beautiful camping areas are on the large plateau in this zone. There are two yellow-post sites for people with fire permits. During the summer, the water does not flow freely and, consequently, the area’s popularity drops. Zone capacity is 75.
Desert View Zone
This zone is located at the southernmost end of the wilderness. The vegetation varies from coniferous to high chaparral and scrub brush. Very little water is in this zone. There are two yellow-post sites for people with fire permits. Zone capacity is 50.
Two great mountain bike resources are The HUB Cyclery and Idyllwild Cycling. The HUB Cyclery rents, sells, and services bikes, parts, and equipment and offers scheduled rides on weekends (typically Saturday mornings at 9 am. Idyllwild Cycling puts on the Idyllwild Spring Challenge, a great event, and you can learn more about them HERE.
There is a plethora of mountain bike trails around Idyllwild and it is mainly divided into 3 zones. Zone 1 is an area behind the Idyllwild Arts Campus known as the Hub. Unfortunately none of these trails are marked but they are obvious and well loved and maintained. Zone 2 is the Cowbell Alley or Upper May Valley trails. This includes the South Ridge climb and several trails at the top end of May Valley Rd. Zone 3 is the May Valley system that can be accessed from the Hurkey Creek area. Unfortunately many of these trails are currently closed due to the Mountain Fire (July 2013) burning through this area and in some cases completely wiping out entire trails. We are hopeful that several of the trails in Zone 3 will be reopening in the Spring of 2017. Bikes are not allowed within the San Jacinto or Santa Rosa wilderness areas or along the Pacific Crest Trail.