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Black Mountain Trail  [previous page]


Black Mountain - Banning CA

lies in the northwestern San Jacinto Mountains within the boundaries of San Bernardino National Forest. The likely reason for the 'Number 1' designation is it is the highest of eight Black Mountain summits in southern California from Santa Barbara County to San Diego County. In fact, Black Mountain is arguably the most overused peak name in the state of California as it appears 49 times in the USGS database along with 2 Little Black Mountains and Black Hill (see Etymology for more references).

However, one feature that sets this summit apart from its other Black Mountain brethren is its active lookout tower that is manned year-round and open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. The summit views are impressive with spectacular views of the San Jacinto Peak massif including Fuller Ridge and Castle Rocks, the San Bernardino Mountains and Banning Pass.

Black mountain is easily visible from SR 243 is crowned with granitic rocks typical of the San Jacinto Peak massif. It is also adorned with a forest mixed with conifers such as Coast Douglas-fir, Ponderosa Pine, White Fir, Jeffrey Pine, and Lodgepole Pine apparently giving it its "black" appearance.

Summit access is attained by either the Black Mountain Trail or the Black Mountain Road. For those who want to feel like they earned the summit, I recommend the pleasant, relatively steep hike up the well-maintained Black Mountain Trail. For those who like driving more than hiking or want an easy summit en route to the Fuller Ridge Trail, you will want to use Black Mountain Road. This road receives periodic maintenance, but is still a pretty rough drive due to heavy wash-boarding. A low clearance vehicle could surely navigate Black Mountain Road, but high clearance will certainly speed up your trip.

To reach the trail drive south from Banning on Highway 243 for 13 miles until you reach Black Mountain Trail about 1.25 miles past Vista Grande Ranger Station.

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