Steep and dangerous snow on San Jacinto

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March 23rd, 2021
By: Jack Haskel - PCTA Trail Information Manager

There is steep, dangerous snow along the PCT on Mount San Jacinto, and in the mountains further north all the way to Canada.

If you don’t have pervious steep snow experience, please seriously consider whether it’s a good idea for you to hike here snow is on the ground. Hikers in the past have died, and more have been seriously injured. There are many close calls on the trail in the area every year before the snow melts.

Jon King’s San Jacinto Trail Report is a great resource.

Please note that the PCT is closed north of Idyllwild due to the Snow Fire.

In 2020, Trevor Laher died after falling on snow during his thru-hike. Please read his father’s call for safety.

The specific snow and ice conditions change frequently. And people’s skill levels, equipment, fitness and risk tolerance also varies. Just because someone else did it, doesn’t mean you’ll be fine. Some PCT hikers are skilled mountaineers, some are beginner wilderness travelers.

Satellite image captured March 21, 2021.

Think conservatively and make sure you will be hiking in conditions comfortable for you.

Excerpt from our “When to hike the PCT” page:

“Don’t be fooled by “the desert.” The PCT often crosses high, seasonally snow-covered mountains in Southern California. You’ll pass ski resorts. Between each mountain range, the trail drops to low elevations and is usually snow-free. Higher elevations typically become snow-covered in the winter, possibly by late October or November, but sometimes not until January. Snow can remain an obstacle into early May, and new snow has been known to fall on Memorial Day weekend. Winter snow is usually deepest in the San Jacinto mountains above Idyllwild (widely, but especially Apache Peak, Antsell Rock, and Fuller Ridge), the San Bernardino mountains above Big Bear (especially south of Coon Creek Jumpoff), and the San Gabriel mountains along the Angeles Crest Highway near Wrightwood (especially on Mount Baden-Powell). At the southern end, Mount Laguna above San Diego gets periodic winter snow. On the northern end, the Piute Mountains between Tehachapi and Walker Pass can regularly be snow covered.”