The entire San Jacinto Ranger District of the San Bernardino National Forest closed on Monday evening, 7th September. The initial closure order has now been extended to Monday 21st September (see closure order extension here).
In addition to the forest and trails, this closure includes all campgrounds, picnic sites, trailheads, and forest roads. This unprecedented step has been taken due to exceptional fire risk. Other parts of the San Bernardino NF, as well as other national forests statewide, are included in the closure. According to USFS, the closure situation is reevaluated daily.
As indicated on the website of Mount San Jacinto State Park, all state park trails are also closed. Prior trail and camping permits have been revoked. As public trails into the Park largely pass through Forest Service land, the Park is functionally inaccessible.
Black Mountain Road is closed (at the gate about 1.7 miles up from Highway 243), possibly for the remainder of the year. One unfortunate consequence of this action is that the Black Mountain Fire Lookout is also now closed, potentially for the season. Indeed all fire lookouts in the San Bernardino National Forest are currently closed, for the protection of the volunteers who operate them and due to scarce resource availability in the event of any emergency.
Air quality on the mountain has varied from day-to-day, but in general has been poor. Most of the past week has seen two layers of smoke, one at high elevation (>14,000′), the other closer to ground level (often <4000′). With prevailing winds from northerly directions for most of the past week, the higher elevation smoke was likely from fires in northern California (or even Oregon), the lower smoke from the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles NF and from the El Dorado Fire in the Yucaipa/Forest Falls area. This morning, winds had shifted (and strengthened) to the south-east, clearing out the upper elevation smoke, but raising the lower level smoke to nearly 12,000′ around the San Jacinto mountains.
Please stay safe everyone. I will continue to post updated information as it becomes available.