Plant Guide to South Ridge Trail Beginning at the Top, San Jacinto Mountains

Introduction and Explanation of Plant Trail Guides

Highlights of This Trail
Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time
Botanical Trip Reports
The Plant Guide
Comments On Specific Species


This page contains a guide to the trail going down, beginning at Chinquapin Junction at the top of the trail. See guide beginning at the base of the trail if you want a guide going up, which also contains detailed driving directions to get to the lower trailhead.

See also the Checklist in Family Order for all the species on this trail.

It is a historical accident that the first version of this guide was made on a one-way trip from Humber Park, up the Devils Slide Trail and down the South Ridge Trail. We have worked far more on the guide to the way up.

Beginning at Chinquapin Junction with the PCT in the high country of the San Jacintos, this trail traverses the north face of Tahquitz Peak to reach the Peak. The trail then follows the South Ridge of Tahquitz Peak to the trailhead in Southern Idyllwild.

This guide begins at the top of the trail. The easiest access to that point is to come up this trail from the base of the South Fork Trail; a shadier, cooler way is via the Devils Slide Trail and the PCT.

Highlights of This Trail

The lowermost part of this trail is unique in having some chaparral species present. In his 1902 Flora, Hall describes a big island of chaparral on the southeast slope of this ridge, and attributes it to slope exposure and desert winds, which, gliding over the [Desert Divide] ridge, strike the slope, giving to it a warmer and drier climate than it would otherwise have. The lowermost part of this trail is close to that island, but not within it.

The botanical highlights of this trail are:

Number of Unique Taxa On This Trail

The following histogram gives the number of trails in our database that contain each taxon on this trail. We had 287 trails in our database when this histogram was made; 90 of those trails, including this one, are from San Jacinto Mountain. A number of "1" means the taxon has only been found on this trail among all the trails in our database.

Number of Trails
Containing A Taxon
Number Of Taxa
On This Trail
% of Taxa
On This Trail
Total Taxa98100%

The taxa that are unique to this trail, or are found on only up to two other trail guides, are:

#trailsScientific NameCommon Name
1Arceuthobium cyanocarpumlimber-pine dwarf-mistletoe
2Madia minimadwarf madia
2Chaenactis parishiiParish's chaenactis

Even though we've seen limber pine on 28 trails, this is the only place we've ever seen dwarf-mistletoe on it.

However, its uniqueness goes away using the Jepson Manual 2, which has merged all of our dwarf mistletoes together. When one does that, the number of other trails that have pine dwarf mistletoe on them is 21.

This merging of the dwarf mistletoes makes a lot of sense to us, since otherwise it is hard to account for seeing it on limber pine in just one location, and on sugar pine in just one location at San Jacinto Mountain. If the species on Pinus jeffreyi / coulteri / ponderosa is actually the same species as limber and sugar pine dwarf mistletoe, then one just has to postulate that it only infrequently grows on limber and sugar pines.

The real "most infrequently seen species" are then Madia minima, seen on only one other trail (the Deer Springs Trail), and Chaenactis parishii, seen on two other trails (both above Garner Valley).

The other two taxa found on only 3 and 4 trails are actually much more widespread, but the number of other trails is artificially low due to some trails specifying just the species and other the subspecies.

The winner for the taxon seen on the most trails is Solidago californica, goldenrod, which appears on a total of 115 trails.

Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time

The following table gives the dates the trail was walked and taxa recorded. After the earlier visits, the table gives the total number of taxa on the list and the breakdown of the taxa without positive identification. No breakdown was given for fieldwork after 5/11/2007. See Explanation of Plant Trail Guides to understand the symbols below.

Visit DateVisit ## taxa# "?"# "sp"# "~"# "ssp"

The number of species in the field guide went down on 10/5/04 when some of the unknown species turned out to be the same as ones previously in the guide.

There are two entries for 8/2/06, which was the first date the trail was surveyed beyond Tahquitz Peak. The first entry is for comparison with the previous entries, and records only the section to Tahquitz Peak. The second entry is for the whole trail, but was incomplete for the lower part of the trail due to darkness. The first time the entire trail was surveyed was 8/7/06.

The fieldwork was only to mile 1.79 on 3/10/07 and 5/11/07.

We thank Michael Charters for finding the Sarcodes sanguinea and Stephanomeria exigua on 8/12/06; Erik Blume for help with the 3/10/07 fieldwork; Mike Crouse for help with the 5/27/09 fieldwork; and Keir Morse for help with the 11/3/12 fieldwork.

The top 0.4 mile of the trail was surveyed on 8 different days, with the rest of the trail surveyed going down on only a single day. The lower section of the trail was surveyed going up on 10 different days, with some of those trips only surveying partway up the trail.

Botanical Trip Reports

26 July 2006
2 August 2006
7 August 2006
26 October 2006

The Plant Guide

See also Checklist in Family Order for all the species on this trail.

Version for printing, without lines and other text on this page: html (6 pages) or pdf Clickbook booklet (2 double-sided pages). (See printing instructions for an explanation of these options)

MileS#id?Common NameLatin Name#here#all
0.00   Begin South Ridge Trail at Chinquapin Jct with the PCT, elevation 8570 feet (2610 m)
0.00b1 Burlew's onionAllium burlewii99 / 312
0.00r2 bush chinquapinChrysolepis sempervirens99 / 968
0.00r3 white firAbies concolor30 / 9106
0.00l4 pussy pawsCalyptridium monospermum5 / 133
0.01l5 limber pinePinus flexilis40 / 729
0.02l6 San Jacinto Mts. Keckiella (in chinquapin)Keckiella rothrockii var. jacintensis1 / 144
0.03l7~Ross' sedgeCarex rossii10 / 233
0.03l8 western needlegrassAchnatherum occidentale ssp. occidentale2 / 212
0.04b9 Parish's snowberrySymphoricarpos rotundifolius var. parishii2 / 174
0.04r10 sugar pinePinus lambertiana50 / 980
0.10l11 lodgepole pinePinus contorta ssp. murrayana20 / 750
0.10r  (limber-pine dwarf-mistletoe, Arceuthobium cyanocarpum)
0.12r12 limber-pine dwarf-mistletoeArceuthobium cyanocarpum2 / 21
0.13l13 Parish's campionSilene parishii10 / 236
0.16l  (white-veined wintergreen, Pyrola picta; little prince's pine, Chimaphila menziesii)
0.19   Trail curves left at minor ridge
0.23l  (Watson's spike-moss, Selaginella watsonii)
0.24l14~rush blue grassPoa secunda ssp. juncifolia1 / 18
0.26l15 shaggy-haired alumrootHeuchera hirsutissima6 / 230
0.26l16 little prince's pineChimaphila menziesii10 / 327
0.26l17 Watson's spike-mossSelaginella watsonii1 / 121
0.28   Trail curves left at minor ridge
0.28r  (pinedrops, Pterospora andromedea)
0.32b18 white-veined wintergreenPyrola picta10 / 121
0.32   Switchback left.
0.33   Switchback right.
0.35   Trail curves left 90° at minor ridge
0.37l  (spike trisetum, Trisetum spicatum)
0.37l19 mountain holly fernPolystichum scopulinum3 / 17
0.37l20 mountain sprayHolodiscus microphyllus var. microphyllus3 / 338
0.40r21 curl-leaf mountain-mahoganyCercocarpus ledifolius10 / 931
0.40l  Jct. to Tahquitz Lookout; go left on it.
0.41r22 Jeffrey pinePinus jeffreyi99 / 9105
0.42l23 green-leaf manzanitaArctostaphylos patula99 / 965
0.42   Trail begins a series of zig-zags.
0.43r  (granite prickly phlox, Leptodactylon pungens)
0.43r  (canyon live oak, Quercus chrysolepis)
0.44l24 Parish's bedstrawGalium parishii3 / 241
0.44   Tahquitz Lookout base.
0.45   Catwalk of Tahquitz Lookout; elevation 8846 feet (2696 m); broad-seeded rock-cress, Arabis platysperma just east of Lookout; return to trail jct.
0.50   Jct. main South Ridge Trail; go left
0.51   Switchback left
0.51   Switchback right
0.52r25 mountain whitethornCeanothus cordulatus50 / 979
0.54   Switchback left
0.56   Switchback right
0.56l26 canyon live oakQuercus chrysolepis99 / 991
0.58l27 San Bernardino rubber rabbitbrushChrysothamnus nauseosus ssp. bernardinus99 / 977
0.58   Switchback left
0.59r  (Grinnell's beardtongue, Penstemon grinnellii var. grinnellii)
0.61   Switchback right
0.66r28 Grinnell's beardtonguePenstemon grinnellii var. grinnellii50 / 550
0.66r29 golden yarrowEriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorum30 / 4103
0.66r  (San Jacinto prickly phlox, Leptodactylon jaegeri)
0.67r  (San Jacinto Mtns. Daisy, Erigeron breweri var. jacinteus)
0.67r30 Parish's needlegrassAchnatherum parishii1 / 144
0.68r  (southern mountain-monardella, Monardella australis; beaked penstemon, Penstemon rostriflorus)
0.70r31 Martin's paintbrushCastilleja applegatei ssp. martinii2 / 256
0.70b32 mountain California-fuchsiaEpilobium canum ssp. latifolium10 / 3105
0.72   Switchback left at saddle
0.74r33 Wright's buckwheatEriogonum wrightii var. subscaposum99 / 944
0.74l34 southern mountain-monardellaMonardella australis10 / 334
0.74l35 squirreltailElymus elymoides30 / 976
0.74l36 rock buckwheatEriogonum saxatile5 / 222
0.75l37 June grassKoeleria macrantha50 / 521
0.77   Switchback right; elevation ~8600 feet (2621 m)
0.79l38 San Jacinto Mtns. daisyErigeron breweri var. jacinteus2 / 29
0.81   Switchback left
0.84   Switchback right
0.86   Switchback left
0.91l39 granite prickly phloxLeptodactylon pungens1 / 153
0.97   Switchback right; elevation 8400 feet (2560 m)
1.07   Switchback left
1.10l40 California groundconeBoschniakia strobilacea99 / 97
1.15   Switchback right; elevation 8240 feet (2512 m)
1.21   Switchback left
1.31   Switchback right at huge split boulder
1.39r41 narrowleaf bedstrawGalium angustifolium ssp. angustifolium10 / 574
1.43   Switchback left just below saddle; elevation 8000 feet (2438 m)
1.51   Switchback right; ridge with many footprints to left gives access to the steep cliffs with Tahquitz ivesia, Ivesia callida
1.57r42 hybrid manzanitaArctostaphylos patula X A. pringlei ssp. drupacea1 / 16
1.57   Switchback left
1.65   Jct. gully leading uphill to steep cliffs with Tahquitz ivesia, Ivesia callida; trail curves right; elevation 7840 feet (2392 m)
1.92r43 Holboell's rock-cressArabis holboellii2 / 141
1.94r44 pinedropsPterospora andromedea5 / 347
2.01   Trail curves left at ridge; elevation 7600 feet (2316 m)
2.01l45 Parish's tauschiaTauschia parishii30 / 923
2.04l  (beautiful hulsea, Hulsea vestita ssp. callicarpha)
 l  Look for earliest hulsea on trail
2.06l46 white catch-flySilene verecunda ssp. platyota30 / 974
2.22   Local low point at sandy drainage; trail climbs briefly
2.28   Local high point; trail resumes descent
2.29r47 pink-bracted manzanitaArctostaphylos pringlei ssp. drupacea99 / 936
2.31r48 spreading dogbaneApocynum androsaemifolium75 / 19
2.43   Switchback left
2.45   Switchback right
2.48   Switchback left
2.49l  (California coffeeberry, Rhamnus californica+)
2.52   Switchback right at rock window with 3 subpanes
2.62   (California-aster, Lessingia filaginifolia var. filaginifolia)
2.66   Trail curves right 90°
2.66r49 mountain grape-soda lupineLupinus excubitus var. austromontanus6 / 435
2.67   Switchback left
2.67r  (fir mistletoe, Phoradendron pauciflorum)
2.70   Switchback right
2.72   Switchback left
2.77   Switchback right; tree with 3 trunks beginning 3 feet above ground
2.81   Switchback left
2.84b50 beautiful hulseaHulsea vestita ssp. callicarpha30 / 937
2.86l51 California-asterLessingia filaginifolia var. filaginifolia99 / 995
2.86r52 chaparral whitethornCeanothus leucodermis4 / 232
2.87   Switchback right; elevation 7200 feet (2195 m)
2.91   Trail curves right 90° at ridge
2.95   Switchback left
2.99l53 naked buckwheatEriogonum nudum var. pauciflorum30 / 958
3.00   Switchback right
3.03   Switchback left
3.07   Switchback right
3.14   Switchback left; elevation 7000 feet (2134 m)
3.16r54 short-flowered monardellaMonardella nana ssp. tenuiflora50 / 949
3.18   Rock / tree window; trail curves left at ridge
3.22   Switchback right
3.24r55 Sierra Nevada lotusLotus nevadensis var. nevadensis30 / 949
3.26l  (rock goldenbush, Ericameria cuneata var. cuneata)
3.27b56 San Jacinto buckwheatEriogonum apiculatum30 / 347
3.28l57 Parish' Jacumba milk-vetchAstragalus douglasii var. parishii30 / 915
3.29   Switchback left
3.32   Switchback right
3.34   Switchback left
3.34b58 Nevin's bird's beakCordylanthus nevinii20 / 234
3.34r59 Wright's buckwheatEriogonum wrightii var. membranaceum30 / 932
3.34r60 snow-plantSarcodes sanguinea10 / 445
3.38   Switchback right; elevation ~6900 feet (2103 m)
3.49   Switchback left
3.53r61 Jepson's blue wildryeElymus glaucus ssp. jepsonii10 / 221
3.53   Trail curves right 90°
3.58b62 western wallflowerErysimum capitatum ssp. capitatum20 / 285
3.61r63 *downy bromeBromus tectorum50 / 582
3.62b64 incense-cedarCalocedrus decurrens5 / 162
3.65   Switchback right
3.65r65 Laguna Mtns. jewel-flowerStreptanthus bernardinus6 / 48
3.67   Trail curves left
3.70r66 woodland spurgeEuphorbia palmeri1 / 118
3.70b67 southern mountain woolly-starEriastrum densifolium ssp. austromontanum30 / 225
3.71b68 brackenPteridium aquilinum var. pubescens2 / 172
3.72l  Sign: "San Jacinto Wilderness"
3.73l  Jct. old road
3.75r  Impressive flat-topped rock outcrop
3.75b69 groundsmokeGayophytum diffusum ssp. parviflorum10 / 147
3.75l70~slender wreathplantStephanomeria exigua1 / 13
3.75r71 small fescueVulpia microstachys40 / 37
3.77   Trail turns left 90°
3.79l72 Davidson's buckwheatEriogonum davidsonii3 / 139
3.80   Trail turns right 90° at drainage; elevation 6640 feet (2024 m)
3.81r73 fir mistletoePhoradendron pauciflorum2 / 232
3.83   Trail jogs left, then right
3.85r  Rock window formed by two huge boulders
3.89l  Boulders showing old soil line by absence of lichens at base
3.90   Trail curves left
3.91l  Several 6 inch wide yellow-brown mushrooms
3.95r74 California black oakQuercus kelloggii3 / 133
3.95l75 interior live oakQuercus wislizeni var. frutescens4 / 233
3.96   Trail curves left
3.97r76 volcanic giliaGilia ochroleuca ssp. exilis10 / 27
3.98   Trail curves left
3.98l77 Parish's chaenactisChaenactis parishii10 / 13
3.99l78 bush monkeyflowerMimulus aurantiacus10 / 156
3.99l79 California coffeeberryRhamnus californica1 / 128
4.01   Switchback right
4.03r80 Mexican manzanitaArctostaphylos pungens1 / 113
4.03l81 oak mistletoePhoradendron villosum10 / 230
4.03   Switchback left
4.03l82 splendid giliaGilia splendens ssp. splendens30 / 326
4.06l83 bajada lupineLupinus concinnus10 / 366
4.07l84 incense-cedar mistletoePhoradendron libocedri1 / 113
4.07l  Sign: Be prepared for hazardous conditions; permit required for wilderness area…"
4.07l85 white-margined oxythecaOxytheca emarginata30 / 310
4.08l86 Cleveland's horkeliaHorkelia clevelandii1 / 137
4.08   Switchback right at drainage
4.09 87 hollyleaf redberryRhamnus ilicifolia2 / 267
4.09b88 goldenrodSolidago californica10 / 1115
4.10l89 forest sedgeCarex multicaulis5 / 514
4.10l90 California elegant rock-cressArabis sparsiflora var. californica50 / 39
4.10l91 prickly cryptanthaCryptantha muricata var. jonesii20 / 24
4.11b92 Coulter pinePinus coulteri2 / 227
4.11l93 pine dwarf-mistletoeArceuthobium campylopodum65 / 317
4.11l94 leafy daisyErigeron foliosus var. foliosus30 / 783
4.11l95 Indian milkweedAsclepias eriocarpa1 / 124
4.11l96 mountain red-root cryptanthaCryptantha micrantha var. lepida99 / 522
4.11l97 strigose lotusLotus strigosus99 / 987
4.11l98 whisker-brushLinanthus ciliatus40 / 514
4.11   End trail at lower trailhead; elevation ~6540 feet (1995 m)

Comments On Specific Species

Poa secunda ssp. juncifolia. Plants at mile 0.24 are very different-looking from normal Poa secunda, and as a result formerly were called Poa nevadensis. However, Elizabeth Anne Kellogg showed in 1985 that these different forms are environmentally induced.

Curiously, most vouchers from this area are of ssp. secunda, which is clearly ruled out by every characteristic in the Jepson Manual key. The lemmas are glabrous, not hairy; the ligule of the sterile shoots is only 1 mm and truncate, not greater than 2 mm and acute; and the leaf blade is firm, retaining its shape, not withering after bloom. The non-withering leaves is the easiest trait to observe in the field.

Rhamnus californica. See note in Devils Slide Trail Guide.

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Copyright © 2003-2012 by Tom Chester, Dave Stith and James Dillane.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to us at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 18 November 2012.