Idyllwild Ranger Station
Martinez Mountain
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Martinez Mountain

(UTM 608127)

Location: Riverside County, about 11 miles south of Palm Desert, 129 miles from Los Angeles


Auto Club: Riverside County
Forest Service: San Bernardino National Forest
USGS Topos: Martinez Mtn 7½, Toro Peak 7½
HPS: Route(s), waypoints and explanation of usage
Nearby Peaks: Sheep Mountain

Printable version of this route

ROUTE 1 - Cactus Spring, Gully Route

Seasonal Closure: Sheep Mountain and Martinez Mountain are subject to a voluntary seasonal closure to protect bighorn sheep habitat, except for the months of October, November, and December. This seasonal closure may become permanent at some time in the future.

Distance: 16 miles round trip on trail and cross-country
Gain: 4300' total, 3500' out plus 800' on return
Time: 8-9 hours round trip
Rating: Class 2, strenuous
Navigation: Intermediate
Leader Rating: "I", normal conditions
Route: Possible rock fall problems in the gully

Original: Roger Mitchell, August 1967


From the west:

  • Take I-10 or SR 60 east to SR 79 in Beaumont.
  • Go south on SR 79 to the Ramona Expressway. Turn left (east).
  • Go east and then southeast on the Ramona Expressway until it ends at SR 74. Turn left (east).
  • Go east on SR 74 to Mountain Center (junction with Idyllwild Highway - SR 243).
  • Continue east on SR 74 for about 21.5 miles to a paved road (7S06) at a sign "Cactus Spring Trail". This is just across from the entrance to Pinyon Flat Campground.
  • Go south 1/4 mile to the (paved) "Sawmill Trailhead" parking lot.

From the north:

  • Travel east on I-10 to its interchange with Monterey Avenue near Palm Desert. Exit right (south) on Monterey. Reset your odometer.
  • At 6.0 miles, Monterey crosses 111 in Palm Desert and becomes SR 74. Continue straight.
  • At 21.3 miles, turn left (southeast) on a paved road (7S06) at a sign "Cactus Spring Trail". This is just across from the entrance to Pinyon Flat Campground.
  • Go south 1/4 mile to the (paved) "Sawmill Trailhead" parking lot.


  • From the parking area (4040'), hike east along the road to an intersection.
  • Continue straight ahead at the beginning of the Cactus Spring Trail. This is shown as a short road segment on the topo. Hike along the trail as it goes right at a fork and descends to a road near an old dolomite mine.
  • Turn left (east) on this road and follow it past the mine to where the trail leaves the road. This is the old trailhead. Continue east on the trail as it goes over several rises and then descends to Horse Thief Creek near BM 3492.
  • Follow it across the creek as it climbs over a hill to avoid a waterfall and then descends back into a wash.
  • Follow it east along this wash to Cactus Spring (usually dry), about 2 miles beyond Horse Thief Creek.
  • Continue on the trail as it follows a wide wash.
  • Soon it leaves this wash on the right, just north of bump 4996'.
  • From here, Martinez can be seen straight ahead. It has three saddles. A large gully descends from the saddle on the right. This is the one to aim for.
  • Leave the trail and continue up the wash. Follow the wash around the left side of a low ridge and up this gully to the summit ridge.
  • Turn left (north) and go up to the prominent summit block. It can be climbed from the southeast side. Elevation 6562', shown on the map, is not the summit.


For large parties

Where the trail leaves the gully, continue up the trail to where it crosses a saddle south-southwest of the summit. This is just north of BM 5168 on the topo. Leave the trail here and follow the ridge up to the summit keeping right at obstacles. This route is poorly ducked.


The Cactus Spring Trail is an old Indian route.


Both Sheep Mountain and Martinez Mountain are in the Santa Rosa Wilderness, but your sign-in at a wilderness register box near the beginning of the Cactus Spring Trail currently replaces the usual wilderness permit process for both day hikes and overnight trips.


Martinez Mountain is also on the DPS Peak List.

History of Summit Signature

Climbing Archives

Please report any corrections or changes to the Mountain Records Chair.

Hundred Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club
Published 30-May-2012
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