Marion Mountain Trail – San Bernardino National Forest

Where: San Bernardino National Forest
Mileage: 7.4 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation gain: 2800 feet
Recommended: Water, food, binoculours

To get to the trailhead: From the 10, drive South on Hwy 243 from Banning for about 19 miles. Turn left and follow the signs for Marion Mountain Campground. There are two trailheads one next a small water tower and the other just up the road.

Goal for the day: To do all 12.4 miles up to 10,800, but little by little that dream went away as 1. I forgot my annual adventure pass in my own car, 2. We had to sign up for day permits, 3. We had to pick up food along the way. Plus I had to show off the mountains close to LA to my visitors as they were from Switzerland. I couldn’t compete with the Alps, but tried to.

Even though we left LA around 6:45 am in the morning, we didn’t start on the trailhead until 10:00 am, it being “winter” sun would go down around 4 and didn’t give us enough time to get up to the summit.

Mt. San Jacinto wilderness requires you to have permits on the trail. You can get a self-service permit at the Idyllwild Ranger station. This threw us off on time as well because it took us 5 miles further than the trailhead start. At the station bought a topo map and permit and headed finally to the trail.

Pack lightly: No! Warm clothes, lots of water and food were the essentials. I happened to throw in a headlamp and some other camping things in case we would take longer than needed. The trail uphill seemed easier than when we did Mt. Baldy and Mt. Baden Powell. Almost every 15 minutes there were be a view worth resting for.


We hit 3.7 miles and decided to take a lunch and decide whether to go further or not. Lunch by a frozen waterfall, why not. We had to dress warmer since we stopped and literally put on everything we had in our day packs.

After lunch we headed on our way down, this is where I realized how much uphill we did do. We started at 6,300 feet after 3.7 miles hit around 8,900 feet. 675 feet per mile, you figure it, butt-kicker or not? About a mile down the weather changed; beanies and jackets off. After much descending and toes feeling the slight bit annoyance we got back to the cars in half the time it took us to get up.

Note to self: Remember adventure pass.

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