Trailhead: 19148-19562 Gilman Springs Rd, San Jacinto, CA
Elevation Gain: Varies
Total time: Varies
Dogs: Yes, but probably not a great idea.
Parking: Along Gilman Hot Springs
Located off Highway 79 on Gilman Hot Springs, Massacre Canyon is a hike characterized by very high, steep sides.
It got its name during the earliest days of American settlement in the San Jacinto Valley and refers to a battle between two local tribes over an important food source. One of the tribes suffered heavy losses in the battle.
A seasonal stream runs through the canyon and creates a 12-foot waterfall which is easily accessible through a rather short, flat trip through the riverbed (the waterfall is often dry, however. I went in May and it was dunzo).
In addition to the waterfall trail, you can take a higher trail up the wall of the canyon and over the waterfall, into the riverbed and down the valley. Please note that this trail is steep, narrow and dangerous in many spots and should not be attempted alone.
The trail can really be as long as you’d like. I meandered along the stream (or what was left of it) and ended up in the San Jacinto preserve (I think). It was green and lovely and very scenic.
Overall, Massacre Canyon is a beautiful hike that is appropriately named because the trail that climbs the walls of the canyon is mega sketch and totes tries to massacre you at every turn. ALSO you very well may hear gun fire echoing through the canyon. I ran into a group of Deliverance-y looking guys carrying rifles and took that as my cue to too-da-loo my way right out of there.
I think the moral of my story is to not do this trail alone. Did I mention that yet? Because you shouldn’t do it alone. SERIOUSLY.