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I’ve done it twice. Great trail.

backpacking
15 days ago

A classic to be done by everyone who loves the mountains and culture. 11 days is a good time limit. memories for a lifetime. lots of people and friends to make along the way. the variants are often the best parts of the Tour.

I did last week although it was awesome I wish I was more prepared. Make sure you have spikes as some parts of the trail are covered with ice. As for the peak make sure you take walking poles and gators so your feet won’t get wet.

backpacking
1 month ago

Did this trail going clockwise (last day was going over sawtooth pass). Did this trip in 4 days with a buddy and both of us wished we had an extra day to camp out by one of the lakes. This is a hike that offers an all in one package. Waterfalls(at least 5), tons of lakes, cliffs, mountains, swamp, woods, etc.... It’s my all time favorite!

Amazing and jaw-dropping views with great history of the trail! Walk-in permits are easy to obtain. Bear boxes in almost all of the established campsites. Some campsites have outhouses. Favorite campsites: Hamilton Lakes, Moraine Lake, Kern Hot Springs, Guitar Lake. Must do hike!

Day hiked the whole loop Nov 2018 training for unsupported FKT attempt on the Arizona trail April 2019

Trained like mad at 20% incline on treadmill - did a couple of 11,000 vertical feet weeks and one 22,000 foot week. And then ran this with my 22 year old son. Took off at 7:11 AM, got to ranger station at 10:30 refilled water and filled out registration left the station at 10:50 and got to top at 12:20. Ouch. It was so funny, my son's hip flexers stopped working and he ran like Charlie Chaplin the last five miles. It was my I T bands that were killing. Weather was perfect. Cool and dry. Salt encrusted completely by the end. What I would do differently - take moister snacks. The cliff bars were gag dry and hard to eat while running, and test your hydration pack. Mine was leaking air by the mouth piece and so I was drinking mostly air. Had not used this in a few years and it had lost its seal. November - but far the best time to do this if it has not snowed yet.

...pretty much what everyone else said. Yes, the first mile can be a little much but really only because you’re just getting started. Yes, the last two miles (the traverse) to Long Valley are the most difficult. Yes, the blazes (white dots) that mark the trail can be missed real easily, so definitely get the Pro version if only for this hike. Once you pass 4300’, keep going. If you turn around you’ll walk into a furnace and chances are you’ll hurt yourself more than if you just keep going up.
Take the chance to enjoy the sunrise on the way up. The views are really what make this hike so epic — enjoy them while you’re up there. When you hit the summit, take a look at the cabin but don’t be a douche and trash it. If you have extra food consider leaving it here for other hikers in emergency situations. When you’re done, have a beer. Chances are you’ve never deserved it more.

The rest is all just my technical notes, so don’t read on if you’re not interested.
Do not read the following and think that you can do what I did. It was somewhat stupid, and I’m extremely lucky NOTHING happened on my hike. I am an experienced hiker, but definitely not at such high altitudes. Maybe train a little before this one, it’s a doozy.

Unfortunately, I have a problem stopping once I start. Fortunately, I don’t know how to quit once I start. I started this hike at midnight, but had no intention of going as quickly as I did. I went through 2L of water on the way up. I hit Long Valley Ranger Station at 7:45am. Once I got there I had 3 kid-sized oatmeal bars, and a handful of jerky. I refilled my reservoir to 3L, and stretched a little.
Started towards the peak around 8, but went much slower on the second half. I hit the summit exactly at noon. I took a break in the Peak Shelter where I changed out of some of my layers, and ate some more jerky. I left a few oatmeal bars in the emergency locker...
...started down to the tram around 12:30, and went slowly, again. I ran out of water one mile from the tram, but it was shaded and just knowing I was about to finish kept me going. Hit the tram at 3:30, and then I hit the bar for a beer.

I started the hike in two wool shirts, longjohns, heavy wool socks, zip-off pants, a hoodie, gloves, and a beanie. A headlamp (the brighter the better) is an absolute if you’re hiking at night. I had my rain gear as well as a tarp in case a storm blew in suddenly. Hiking poles are a lifesaver, and maybe invest in some athletic knee braces. A wide hat and sunscreen will be used the second half of the hike and you’ll be glad for them.
I took 12 kid-sizes oatmeal bars, two big bags of jerky, a small bag of jerky, two pro-bars, and a bag of pistachios. I had 3L of half water/half Gatorade and carried two extra bottles of each with me. I seriously only had four of the oatmeal bars and didn’t even finish the small bag of jerky, but I’m glad I had more than enough in case it was needed. I killed the drinks, and wish I had taken just one extra water bottle.

If you read this far, nice. Again, don’t do what I did. Take it slow-ish. Stop every once in a while to rest your legs, and eat a little. Take goo with you if you’re like me and have a hard time eating solids while hiking. Refill at the ranger station, and use your common sense. If you get to Long Valley and you’re tired, or hurting, take the tram. It’s an awesome hike, but it’s not awesome enough to hurt yourself or risk others safety saving you.

Not an avid hiker but in good shape. This hike is no joke. Started at 2am and it was such a blessing finally seeing the ranger station after the continuous vertical slope. Did this without poles and that’s the one thing I regret not using. Bring lots or water and gel packs. Started cramping on the last vertical stretch before the ranger station. I wouldn’t recommend doing this hike unless you have trained for it. I won’t be doing this hike again for a long time!

Goes without saying, this hike is beyond intense and belongs on any serious hiker's bucket list. We did C2C in November which is a little late but there was no snow yet so we actually had a 40 - 60 degree range the whole time. Just to state the obvious - headlamps, layers, gloves and at least 6L of water/Gatorade, calories (plus emergency supplies). Super awesome hike though, beautiful scenery throughout and a huge sense of accomplishment once you finally hit that tram. Be safe!

P.S. this fortunately did not end up being the case for us, but if you end up missing the last tram at night, the ranger recommended sleeping in the bathroom of the ranger station which is heated and protected from the elements. Just throwing that out there!

Awsome hike. After the second time I did it.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing hike experienced with my five experienced hikers. Started 2:30am at the bottom in palm spring and reach to the summit by 1pm then heading down to the tram exactly 6pm to catch up our ride down. We finished 23.3 miles total. Most challenging hike so far. Stick pole is a must and good headlights. When you reach to the rangers station dont forget to refuel yourself and rest. heading to the summit is strenuous due to some thin air because of the high elevation. hydrate enough and eat energy bars will help. Recommended for advance and serious hikers.

Bring treking poles, it is all up hill.

Blows your mind. Tough cookie. Train Hard. Carry lots of Water. Start as early as 1 am.

Went cactus to tram and left at 2am. Got to tram about 10:40. Got lost once. Thank goodness for all trails gps to get us back on track. Read the hiking guys directions and have his landmark pictures ready. Easy to get lost in the dark. Had 6L of water and used all of them. Absolutely hardest hike I’ve done. You are climbing for 8 hours straight and the first mile and last 2 are brutal. Make sure you are properly fueled before you go. I crashed a bit in the first mile because I had nothing before we left. The valley is a beautiful sight when you get there!! Good luck!

Incredible hike! Extremely challenging and not for the faint of heart. October is the perfect time of year weather wise - cool at the bottom and no snow on the top. I recommend starting long before the sun rises to allow ample time to gain altitude before the desert floor begins getting hot.

Packing list

Hiking boots or trail runners (trail is in great condition and has excellent surface)

All Trails Premium Version with GPS map tracker (it is challenging to navigate the first 4-5 miles at night and the turn by turn nav makes all the difference)

Headlamp with extra batteries just in case

1G of water (Minimum amount. I drank 1.5G before the ranger station where there is a refill tap. This water is heavily chlorinated but potable) Camelbak will make your life much easier along with extra bottled water to refill it.

Food (This hike is extremely challenging and requires you to keep your caloric intake up to make sure you don’t bonk before the top)

Wind jacket or shell (The peak can be quite cool and windy. If starting later in the year Dec/Jan I’d recommend a light down jacket as well)

Activity tracker to monitor distance

Hiking poles (I did not use these nor did I bring them during the hike. I felt they weren’t required for the ascent and there is minimal descending to the tram station and therefore not really required.

Pack as light as possible. It is 17 miles to the peak from Palm Springs Art Museum the majority of which is straight up! Any extra weight is a huge disadvantage.

Amazing hike. We got a late start and camped halfway up the mountain in some random spot. Went to the top on day 2 and took the tram down. This hike is an aggressive workout, especially if you're carrying gear. No water on trail in February. Not for the faint of heart. I would recommend.

Completed Cactus to Clouds.. Beautiful views and sunrise, also super intense elevation gain and temperature change. Bring layers for the top, there was already snow on the ground. First 8,000 feet climb on Skyline was unbelievably difficult. Next 6 to the top peak was all about keeping going. I would recommend eating every few thousand feet at least, we did every 4,000, with water hydration backpacks for water throughout, and trekking poles are a must. Took us 11.5 hours from the bottom to the top back down to the tram. Brought 1 gallon of water, 1 liter of Gatorade, 2 cookies, trail mix and 2 sandwiches, for each of us, was perfect amount. Have fun! Enjoy the views and the success of summiting!

killer hike. GPS map of trail and trekking poles were a game changer.

Great hike! Did it to the ranger station as a training hike for GC r2r2r. The first couple and last couple miles are tough and easy to lose the trail....especially the last couple. Started at 4:47 am....finished 10:39 am. Would come to do the full Cactus to Cloud. Wouldn't hike back down. Much easier too lose the trail and risk injury going down!

I did this trail on October 12th which seemed like the ideal time of year to tackle this hike. The average high in Palm Springs is 91 in October, but it doesn’t get that hot until around noon, and since you’ll be climbing, you never really have to worry about the heat.

I got off to a later start than I had originally planned and left the trailhead at 6:45am, right at sunrise. No headlamp hiking for me. And honestly, it was a lot better than hiking in the dark. Even with the white dots lining the trail to the picnic tables, I still made a couple of wrong turns and had to use my Garmin GPS to get back on track. And then, after the picnic tables, the white dots pretty much disappear. There are a lot of tangents and spur trails that can easily take you off course if you aren’t paying attention to a GPS unit. I can’t imagine how much longer the hike would take in the dark. Also, the best thing about hiking in daylight are the views. When the sun is rising over the Coachella Valley, it’s a gorgeous sight to behold.

It took me 6 hours to get to Long Valley, and like everybody says, the last 2 miles up are brutal. When you combine the steepness of the trail with the fact that you’re now at elevations of 6,000 to 8,000 feet, the exhaustion really affects you. My legs felt heavy, and I felt like my entire body was moving in slow motion. When you finally reach Long Valley, it’s a huge relief, not only because the worst part of the hike is over, but also because you know you won’t die. The throngs of day hikers and school children on field trips are actually a welcome sight.

That said, you still have another 11 miles to hike. My biggest mistake was not refilling my water at the ranger station. By the time I had finished my lunch at Long Valley, I had 2 liters left and figured that would be enough to finish the hike. But even though the last 5.5 miles to the summit aren’t steep at all—at least compared to the 9 miles you’ve already done—the elevation and the exhaustion really take over. I was really dragging on those last few miles to the top—I could tell because the day hikers who saw me were like, “Almost there, dude. Keep going.” By the time I reached the summit, my 2 liters of water were almost gone. I feel like another liter or two would have helped out enormously.

But the euphoria of reaching the summit gave me the shot of adrenaline I needed to finish the hike. It’s an amazing 360 degree view. And because it was late in the day, I had it all to myself. The views on the entire trail are great, but the summit really is the cherry on top, and it makes the entire 10,500 foot climb worth it.

The remaining 5.5 miles back to the tram will take a couple of hours, but it’s on a very nice downhill grade—you won’t be killing your feet or your knees. Because it’s an official park trail that is heavily trafficked and well-defined, it is very easy to follow. Honestly, I would save the night hiking for the evening hours when you’re coming down the mountain because the San Jacinto Park trails are much easier to follow than the Skyline Trail—just be mindful that the final tram ride down the mountain is at 9:45pm (non-summer hours). Upon your arrival at the tram station, treat yourself to a beer... or two... or three... or four at the bar on the third floor. You’ve earned it.

hiking
3 months ago

Went solo on this trip the last week in September in 9 days/8 nights. One needs a permit and there is an easy system to sign up on-line either through a lottery system in March or there are walk-up intermarry possibilities if one has a flexible schedule. Also, routes can either be clock-wise or counter clock-wise in layout. The hike could be comfortably be done in 7 days/6 nights from a mileage perspective. I would rate this as 'hard' but not that 'difficult' in that there is +/- 25,000 ft. of elevation gain and loss for the whole hike, 2k-3K per day on average. It is hard as there is so much up and down. Hiking poles for me were a must. It is not difficult in that it is, during the summer months, a heavily traveled trek and the trails are generally well maintained and easy to follow forest paths. Each day you at going up and down at least one major 2K+ foot section between camps. With side-trips, the 93- 96 mile trek easily ends up over 100+ miles. I took the alternative 'Spray' trail in the northwest as this route is higher up, with closer views of the mountain. There are mountain goats, elk, dear and bear and, the ever present marmots. The weather cooperated, for the most part - 4 days of sunshine, 3 days of overcast, 1 day of rain and 1 day of snow (at 6,000 ft.). The temperature was in the 50s during the day which made for excellent hiking conditions, without overheating. There were no bugs and few people in the camp sites in late September. One is rewarded throughout with spectacular views of the mountain, hills, valleys and rivers as well as different scenery on each day as one heads through different sections and climate zones. In late September, the colors of the bushes change to fiery reds, oranges, yellows and purples - all providing a stark contrast to the bare mountain terrain they grow on. The Wonderland Trail takes one through barren outcrops, subalpine meadows, old growth forests, 'burned' out sections that are regenerating, talus fields and, of course, raging glacial river valleys which leave their silty/rocky deposits below. It is 'hard' because of the elevation gains and losses. All bridges were in place and markers in riverbeds were easy to spot as one navigated low lying sections. I enjoyed the campsites as they all have backcountry privies that are convenient and bear poles for your food/trash at night. In late September, there are few that you are sharing with. One of the pluses for this type of hike is that in each corner of the park, there are cache points to pre-stage food if you choose not to carry it all with you. Further, all campsites, save one, had stream, lake or other water sources near by so water for cooking and drinking was not a problem. Few trails of this length are as well laid out and maintained, with spectacular scenery, and this is the grand daddy of them all. Take the time - it is worth it.

perfect views awesome

Really nice hike. I would recommend taking 12 days for relaxed hiking and one spare day. No need to pack a lot of food as there are many possibilities to buy food along the way. A lot of elevation sets this trail apart from other hikes in Europe (unsurprisingly, it's in the alps). It's exhausting but worth the effort. Beautiful alpine scenery, some snow and cozy refuges. Great hike!

hiking
3 months ago

As good as it gets. Amazing views everywhere you look. Would do again in a heartbeat.

backpacking
4 months ago

The food, the views, the people and the culture made this trip one I would do every year if I could. I highly recommend doing it anti-clockwise, and if you have the gear, camp it instead of staying in refuges. Camping offers you more privacy, better sleep and a more flexible schedule. If you do camp, map out the official campgrounds to stay at, especially in Italy.

This was my all time favorite hike.We did it over six nights so we could enjoy every second and we did.Hope to do it again some day!

hiking
4 months ago

Amazing experience. I highly recommend it! I didn’t want to come home after completing the hike.

backpacking
4 months ago

Did this as a 9-day through hike with my wife last month. Absolutely amazing! We liked it better than the Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood. So many amazing viewpoints of the mountain and the flowers were plentiful. Beautiful lakes and subalpine meadows. Our favorite area was the Ohanapecosh valley and Indian Bar. Klapatche, St. Andrew’s Lake, and Summerland were amazing too. Pack light and use the food cache areas to make this challenging hike more enjoyable.

just finished a 4 day run with my cousin. Awesome views, some nasty weather at times, but a really incredible experience

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