Thomas Mountain Trail

Hemet, California 92544

Thomas Mountain Trail

Thomas Mountain Trail Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"The Ramona Trail is spectacular for several reasons. One, the views of Garner Valley, Desert Divide, and the San Jacintos are phenomenal. Two, there is rarely any traffic on this trail or the road that takes you to the top of Thomas Mountain, so you and your dogs are free to scamper. Three, you travel through four distinct climate zones in 2300 feet of elevation. Four, the trail is evenly graded all the way to the top and shaded from the sun for the last 3 miles of the climb. Five, the trail is the spot of Southern California lore made famous by the late nineteenth-century novel Ramona."

More Thomas Mountain Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire (Wilderness Press)
David & Jennifer Money Harris
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"Thomas Mtn.’s long ridge forms the western side of the beautiful Garner Valley. It is perfectly situated to offer fantastic views of the Desert Divide and San Jacinto Wilderness. The lower slopes are covered in delightful stands of ribbonwoods. On the top of the ridge, cool breezes blow through the rich forest of Jeffrey pines, white firs, and incense cedars. Wildflowers are abundant in the spring and early summer. The mountain is named for Charles Thomas, a pioneer who founded a ranch in the valley in 1861. The valley was also known as Thomas Valley until the ranch was sold to Robert Garner, who gave the valley its present name."
100 Hikes in Southern California: San Bernardino Mountain Trails (Wilderness Press)
John W. Robinson with David Money Harris
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"The Ramona Trail climbs from Garner Valley over Thomas Mountain and down to the Ramona Indian Reservation, named, of course, after the beautiful Native American girl in Helen Hunt Jackson’s famous novel. This trip takes the Ramona Trail to the crest of the divide, then follows the Thomas Mountain ?re road north-west to the summit. En route you climb slopes dense with chaparral (mainly red shank) and reach into Je?rey pine forest that covers the crown of the mountain, passing little Tool Box Spring and its primitive trail camp. There is usually water here year-round."

Thomas Mountain Trail Trip Reports

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Thomas mountain was the first hike I've done in California. The first 3.5 miles of the trail, to toolbox springs, is a nice, moderately difficult hike up the foothills of the mountains with plenty of cool views of the San Jancinto Mountain range. My girlfriend and I stayed overnight just outside of toolbox springs and got up to summit Thomas mountain. Toolbox springs is a big developed campsite (no fun for backpackers or other who want to get away) and the trail to Thomas mountain is a big dirt road with plenty of potholes and traffic (we saw three trucks). Watch out for deep snow in January. The view from Thomas was pretty beautiful, with a near 360 view of the surrounding peaks and valleys. There are campsites on top of Thomas, which would probably be really neat to stay at. The trail was a nice starter for our dog, with very little foot traffic (We saw only three other hikers on the last day). Beware, though, if your dog has a palate for horse dung. It's EVERYWHERE. All in all an okay trail, at least for the first part. Oh, and bring plenty of water, because the water at Toolbox tastes (and looks like) rust. Yeck!
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We had a group of three adults, fours kids, and a dog, ages ranging from 54 to 6 years old (not inc dogs age). The trail Guide stated difficult but I would rate it a moderate trail. We took the Romona Trail to Tool Box Camp and turned back. It took us three hours to reach the camp with 4-5 3 to 5 minute breaks along the way. Don't underestimate young children they were keeping up beter then us older folks. We brought a 2 liter camel pack and a couple of 9 ounce water bottles and had plenty of water for our group including the dog to make it to the camp were there was a pipe and spicket with potable water to refill us for the treck down. Here is my Summery of the pros and Cons.

Pros: Only saw two other groups all day, allowing us to have dog unleashed almost whole time. Gradual incline most of trail. Beautiful view of valley most of trail. Variety of climate zones. Great Herb specimen for horteculturalests and large veriaty of granites, quartez, and sandstones for rock hunters. Looks like it would be a good horse trail too with spring fed trough at tool box spring camp.

Cons: WARNING: Lots of ticks. Were repelant, check yourself and your dog often, and Stay on the Trail. A Couple of large fallen pine trees were crossing the path
making it difficult to cross. There was no water along the trail so make sure you have enough to get to tool box spring camp. Tool Box Camp did not have restrooms either so bring a shovel a TP :)

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Trail Information

Nearby City
2,300 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
6 hours
San Bernardino National Forest, San Jacinto Ranger District
Local Contacts
USGS Idyllwild; Anza
Local Maps

Trail Log