Of all the trails in the area of Idyllwild’s Humber Park, the Ernie Maxwell trail is one of the least difficult. Therefore, it is well suited to hiking novices, families, and hikers who have let themselves get out of shape. If you are ready to experience some of the most beautiful hiking Idyllwild gs area has to offer, grab your CamelBak, other Hydration Pack or Hydroflask and get out on the trail!
Length: about 2 ½ miles one way (five miles round trip).
Difficulty: Easy (unless you are really out of shape of course).
The trail is well marked, heavily traveled, with a total elevation gain of only about 300 feet. You will hike from the trailhead to the end of the trail, which is a dirt road, at that point turn around and return the way you came. Since you will be facing the other way on the return trip, you will probably notice things on the way back you didn’t notice before. For the average hiker who takes the time to stop and enjoy the sights and sounds of the mountains, it will take about three hours to complete the round trip.
However, don’t let the fact that it is a comparatively easy trail lead you to think it is not worth the effort! The trail gives the hiker great views of Suicide Rock, and the valley below. On the return trip you will also get a few good glimpses of Lily Rock to your right. As you start the hike, there is also a gentle stream you have to cross that is pleasant to the eyes, and if you stop and listen, pleasing to the ears.
A Forest Service Adventure pass is required for parking at the trailhead, but as of August 2010 a wilderness permit is not required on this trail. However wilderness permits (free) are required for both the National Forest and the State Park Wildernesses. (See below for locations to purchase the National Forest Adventure Pass.)
Directions to the Ernie Maxwell Trail
To reach the trailhead from Idyllwild, turn east on North Circle Drive to South Circle Drive. Turn right, and take the first left which is Fern Valley Road. Follow the signs to Humber Park, which is about two miles from downtown Idyllwild. Park in the lower levels of the parking area and look for the Ernie Maxwell trailhead sign.
The San Jacinto mountains offer about 275 miles of trails that are varied enough to appeal to the novice yet are sufficiently challenging for the advanced hiker.
Some hiking trails are located in the 35,000 acre San Jacinto Wilderness area managed by the US Forest Service. Other trails are within the 10,000 acre Mt San Jacinto State Wilderness, administered by Mt. San Jacinto State Park.
A National Forest Adventure Pass is required for parking at the trailhead and wilderness permits (free) are required for both the National Forest and the State Park Wildernesses. Wilderness permits are available at no cost from the San Jacinto State Park headquarters on Highway 243 or at the Idyllwild Ranger Station at Highway 243 and Pine Crest Drive.
You can also purchase the National Forest Adventure Pass at many Big 5 Sporting Goods store locations, or at many other locations in both in Idyllwild and the Coachella Valley. There is a daily pass which will cost you $5, or you can buy a yearly pass for $30. When purchasing the yearly pass you can also purchase a Secondary Vehicle pass for an additional $5, which is worth it if you are going with several people in two vehicles. For more information on the National Forest Recreation pass click here.
Mount San Jacinto State Park Information
Address: 25905 Highway 243, Idyllwild, CA 92549
Ernie Maxwell Trail