Thought I'd update the hiking situation. I hiked on Sunday September 8 2013 and Monday September 9th.
First be sure to check with the U.S. Forest System to get an update on what's open along with obtaining your permit. From the Devil's Slide Trail from Humber Park you can only hike to the Tahquitz Peak look out. This is a fine hike with great views from either the look-out itself or from the boulders surrounding it. Until you reach the look out you will see no evidence of the fire other than the barricades at Saddle Jct. Be sure to bring your field glasses to observe the extent of the burned area once you reach the look-out. It truly is amazing that a fire that originated down in Mountain Center made the sweep it did. To the look-out and back is a moderate 8 mi out and back hike. If you want to make a longer loop hike, you can continue down the South Ridge Trail and down the fire road to the Ernie Maxwell Trail back to Humber Park. I haven't measured it myself but it's between 11-12 miles. Remember there is no water along the trail so bring enough!
On Monday I hiked up the Marion Mountain (out of Stony Creek Campground). You can reach San Jacinto Peak this way. At 11mi RT it is the shortest route. The Marion Mtn Trail is very steep and unfortunately not very well maintained unlike the other trails in the Wilderness. There was a fire a few years ago and the erosion is really taking it's toll on the trail. It is very scenic though and I'm glad I went. I turned around at Little Round Valley as I had gotten a late start and didn't want to get trapped in the summer thunderstorms.
From my discussions with the U.S. Forest Service personnel, it's going to be a while before the rest of the trails are going to be open. They have the BEAR team doing their assessment to stabilize soils and erosion control. They are at the end of their fiscal year and there's no money allocated to re-veg and trail build. Ironically the CCC was camped near the Jct of Deer Springs and Marion mountain to improve that section of the PCT for horses! One contact out in the field thought that the section of the PCT from Saddle Jct to Deer Springs could open next spring as the damage was minimal.
BTW, there is a lot of enforcement to keep the public out of the burn areas, especially on weekends. Get your permit and stay out of the restricted areas otherwise a $5000 fine. Please let nature and the forestry experts do their jobs so we can have access to this wonderful resource soon.
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