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summited Friday 4/13 2018
snowy icy patches in the shaded parts of trail. best with some traction but OK without. last 500m was covered in snow so make your own trail up

My second time doing this trail. Wasn’t able to complete it the first time. But came back and finished today! Great trail with nice views challenging carry plenty of water it’s a little over 16 miles. Do it really early to avoid the heat! Loved it

Want to start off by stating we were unable to hike to the peak, as the winds were blowing so hard it made it difficult to stand let alone hike, with that being said the skyline trail is all that it is advertised as, tough, strenuous, tiring and demanding.
We started around 3ish with our headlamps blazing the path. We kept a sharp eye out for the painted circles on the rocks to help guid our path, even still we made a couple wrong turns, and we were watching for any snakes which have been reported in the past couple weeks. We stopped a couple times to takes in the views of Palm Springs at full darkness, pretty cool. We made it to the series of pick nick tables with out any problems, hacking was moderately difficult.
Reached the rocks with the spray painted written mileage and no water for the remainder of the hick, continued up switchbacking up the side of a hill finding a great spot to watch the sunrise, awesome views, came across the first of two emergency boxes, then two our surprise, stumbled upon 3 dear, they kept their distance, but they did not run and hide also. Once you reach the picnic benches no more painted dots to guid your path.
The next few mils was going up and over ridge lines, not bad hiking, saw our first view of the tram, the desert landscape is amazing, with bushes blooming flowers of all different colors, cactus blooming, lots of Cholla cactus close to trail head, be aware, lots of manzanita bushes and lots of yucca plants. Trail is moderate.
Then the trail changes drastically, the major up hill accents starts, winding back and forth, definitely leg burner accents. We were in a manzanita Grove which felt like it would never end. The trail became more rocky for sure, pasted the second emergency box and what was called flat rock, not to impressed. The clouds started to come in and the wind began to pickup. By 7000ft, small snow flakes began to fall with the sun shining. I knew it was going to be a cold hike so, took a lot of warm clothing, and I used every bit of it, but I stayed warm.
The trail was becoming more rocky, and the snow falling made the rocks a bit slipper at times. The incline seemed to have increased, my legs were feeling tired and I was having to stopped periodically to catch my breath, the higher we rose wind seemed to be hitting stronger and the snow flakes were increasing at times. We stopped for a quick and her comes the 64 yr old lady, just the happiest person, I asked when she started, 2 hrs after us and she looked she could run up the trail, haha. I asked her how much further, she said about 20 min, yeah for it was, me it was more like 35 min.
By this point my legs felt like jelly, with the wind blowing and snowing I could not wait for the end, The trail at times became hard to read, lots of down limbs, scrambling over rocks, lots of switch backs and fairly steep at times. We finally crested the top, the snow had stopped but the wind was howling, put on the rest big my cold gear and headed to the tram, the worst part is climbing the concrete path to the tram. Went straight to the bar ordered a beer to celebrate our first cactus to clouds hike. After nearly 8 hrs I was tired, my legs acked, my feet were tired, but I would do it again in heart beat.
Gear I took, 4.5 liters of fluid, one of those liters was Gatorade, a variety of snacks, emergency kit- matches, lighter, compus, knief, whistle, backup maps, first aid kit, small rope, clothing- gloves, Beanie, hat, Balaclava, windbreaker, plus the layers I had on, extra head lamp, hiking poles, charger for my phone. If you have any questions feel free to ask, thanks for reading, happy trails.

Intense! But worth it all the way.

Great Hike (13-14 APR 2018). My GPS showed 21 total miles round trip... We stayed on the trail. I think that the switchbacks have been extended. Friday on ascent we only saw 3 other people. Saturday, on our decent we saw about 40 hikers on their way up. Used only trekking poles.

- Lots of greens and shades in this trail. Well maintained;
- Be careful of bikers and motorcyclists !!! Some of them were really aggressive, who never slowed down because of race.
- Needs lots of water (at least 3.5 L) and energy bar as well
- 4WD recommended and drive slow.

Great trail

Challenging hike for me but pleasant all the same. Couple pieces of advice, most which are mentioned by others. Bring more water than you think you need. I took 3 1/2 liters and ran out with 3 miles to go. Also, when you think you are getting close to the summit you still have a long way to go. You can see the antennas and feel you are 30 min from the peak for half the hike. The road up to the parking lot is bumpy so if you don't have a four wheel drive allow some extra time. Get your adventure pass for parking prior if you can. This hike takes a long time so be aware and don't assume you can shave a couple hours off. I didn't end up getting done til 6:00 so only had another hour of light. Enjoyed the hike even though a mountain bike event was going on so had to pull over for about 50 bikers. Coming back was very pleasant with the afternoon shade and less traffic.

Definitely tough trek and well worth it! Be careful not to miss the trailhead on the left of the mill less than 1/2 mile from parking. Last marker reads summit camp straight, Vivian creek right. Go straight towards summit camp and you’re there. Got up and down yesterday 4/13/18 without yak tracks or micro spikes. Couple of patches of snow/ice less than 6-10 feet on trail. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Started this hike at 5am. There were already a few cars parked at the trail head. The trail is distinctly marked with signs from the trail head as you cross the Mill Creek River Bed.

It took us about 6 hours to ascend to the peak. We definitely took our sweet time. The weather was just too perfect! Hardly any wind at all and a cool 65 degrees for most of the hike. Still a few patches of snow and ice, but microspikes it not necessary. I would recommend trekking poles hiking back down due to the speed descend.

Be aware that once you come down the peak, don’t take the peak divide trail by accident. That will take you to the San Bernardino Peak, make sure you take the trail to the left.

Overall, one of the most beautiful hikes out here in the Inland Empire.

Bonus: We saw a bobcat hiding in a small cave.

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Did this as a training hike with a fully loaded backpack. The road is a PITA cuz it takes a long time to get out there and it can be crowded, but the trail overall is quite lovely. Once you start climbing (after the waterfall trail junction) it gets quieter and the views get better and better. April 2018: there is plenty of water in the lower sections of the trail. When you get to main divide road there is no sign indicating where to go, go Right for about .4 miles and look for some piled rocks on the left side of the road pointing to the trail, it takes a sharp Left and keeps climbing. Bring a headlamp in case you end up hiking after dark like me!

Started at 5AM and took about 9.5H from the Vivian Creek trailhead to summit and return. There is minimal snow above 8k and was perfectly fine with poles and microspikes / yaktrax. Crampons and axe are unnecessary right now. The initial switchbacks and elevation gain are brutal and even worse when coming down. Take as little weight as possible to save your knees.

Bring more water then you think you’ll need. My pack ended up being pretty heavy but 7 bottles of water a Gatorade and 3 apple juice boxes proved to not be near enough almost.
The road up to the trail can be sketchy, that being said I did trek it in my MINI Cooper and it really wasn’t that bad. More just embarrassing because I almost felt like people were looking at me like, look at this bitch trying to take this road in a MINI but if you go slow, let Jeeps pass and watch for rocks & pot holes in the road you’ll be just fine.
General store at the end of the road to the trail had Adventure Passes for sale.
The hike to the summit for me wasn’t too bad physically just more mentally challenging. A lot of the hike is shady but be prepaired for some sun as well. Probably about 1/3 of it you might be in the sun for.

backpacking
12 days ago

This hike is definitely for those with a higher fitness level and experience with rock scrambling. We just backpacked this as a prep hike for the Grand Canyon R2R2R. Beautiful hike with amazing views. Bring a min of 3 liters of water and lots of snacks.

Great training hike for our Grand Canyon. Go early. Parts of trail are pretty expsoed and can get warm. A handful of annoying things about the trail...first are all the bikers on the trail. second are the motorcycles and cars the last mile. last is the last mile of the trail is on the road with lots of rocks and exposed for the first half. however at the end there amazing views of OC and the ocean on clear days.

April 6 2017 went with my girlfriend and summited this bad boy but it wasn't worth it. As of 2 days ago this trail starts being dangerous at around 8,500 elevation. With so many pictures on Instagram of people "summiting" you'd think it would be well marked with foot prints.. nope... (pictures from awhile back maybe?) The snow makes it super hard to follow the trail so you have to ascend up and most of the snow is very unstable so expect to sink your legs alot ( previous footprints don't help). Many arent visible anymore to the top besides at a notch where everone cuts for a scramble to the "top". Bring Crampons and an Ice Axe if you attempt it . Don't be like the 2 people last week who slid down and got hurt. Summit is snowed in and still has gorgeous views but weather can get bad up there fast. If you don't know the trail bring GPS. Other than that have a fun extreme hike up this mountain. Only saw 2 people up there who were hauling down as well with us when the wind picked up.

Completed hike on March 31 2018. Still quite some snow for about 2 miles, but managed to get through it without problems. Great view on the top, it is worth the effort. Bring trekking poles, makes it easier to navigate through the snow and helps at higher altitude.

Great trail. Tough to get to sometimes as the dirt road can be in pretty bad condition getting there. Great views with trails that have a variety of surfaces, rock, dirt, sand. Bring a lot water.

Just finished. Started at 3 am. Hit the tram at 8 and the round trip back to the tram by 1pm. Some brief rest breaks included. It was adrenaline inducing to walk through the desert at night alone, quietly climbing. Around 3 miles in, I noticed a pair of big red eyes staring at me when I was scanning near the trail with my head lamp. It was a bear.about 15 feet off the trail just sitting and staring. I kept moving and it did not follow. No need for micro spikes or crampons. I did the entire push wearing only shorts but I carried full winter clothing just in case. Full moon. Great adventure best shared with a like minded acquaintance

Fantastic challenging trail. Completed 10/6/17. From trailhead to summit - 5 hrs. Weather was perfect in early October.

The trail is very difficult and conditions are terrible deep snow and ice are all over the trail but the view at the top is amazing the trip should take you about two days make sure to bring appropriate clothing and a tent

off road driving
20 days ago

Wasn’t really to happy to find that the actual trail doesn’t allow off-roading. But there is some good riding right at the entrance. A lot of rocky ruff terrain, fun though.

I appreciate all of the information from the members on this site.
Any advice on traveling down the trail from the tram to the museum? Any dangerously steep areas?

trail running
22 days ago

Great climb. Get up early and watch the sunrise over Palm Springs. Met a rattler 90 seconds.

March 28, 2018: first late winter attempt and the trail is good with patchy snow starting around 8000 ft increasing above. About 5 miles up take a sharp right as the trails ends in a snow bank. Can do with poles carefully. However, above 9100 ft the slope and frozen snow requires spikes. I know the trail the last mile but decided to turn around as the snow was too glazed and slippery for my dog Keiko. It was also untracked so if you don’t know the trail you cannot see it, at least this week. Rated 4 stars today due to snow conditions but it was a gorgeous day and the views were spectacular. Love this trail!

Two friends and I decided to give the Cactus to Clouds a go during our time in Palm Springs. Before we made the trip down we did a lot of research on the hike as we really wanted to be sure we knew what we were getting into and that we were prepared for the trail conditions (reviewing blogs www.sanjocjan.com, trail reviews, weather forecasts / conditions, local outdoor stores, correspondence with the ranger station). We downloaded "The Hiking Guys" GPX file as reference and the route / map were fairly consistent (with a few minor discrepancies).

We started at 4:00 on the Saturday morning and made our way up to the Tram by around 9:45. Highlights for this section are definitely the views, rock formations and passing through 3 distinct climate zones. We were rather surprised once we got to around mile 8.5-9 as we had expected the climb around Coffman's Crag to be this vertical wall (based on some reviews) but in general the pitch was a lot easier than we were anticipating.

Once we reached the tram we made sure to touch base with the Rangers with regards to trail conditions as well as any groups we had come across (some better prepared than others). After filling our the park permit we proceeded on to the summit. The trail from approx. 1 mile away from the Tram to the summit is a combination of ice (in the lower elevation) and soft snow at the summit. Navigating the trail proved a little hard than earlier but the GPX file kept us pretty true to the general trail location. The upper 2500' in elevation is a good challenge (both mentally and physically) as the elevation effects everyone different. For me at around 9500' I was feeling the effects (little nauseous and light headed) but we continued on and reached the summit around 1-1:30pm (what a spectacular view from the top...you truly feel like you are on top of the world).

After hanging out on the summit for a few minutes (grabbing a few needed photos) we started the journey back to the tram (which is where the micro spikes and poles really came in handy). We reached the ranger station / tram at around 3:40pm and handed out permits back in to the rangers...and then made our way to the bar to grab a well deserved pint (and Pepsi as I was LOW on sugar).

The views, different climate zones, local flora, fauna and everything else along the way was spectacular but what truly makes this hike so amazing is the journey with the friends.

Sidebar comment (and a very frustrating observation) is how many people we saw on the trail between the Tram and the Summit with no water, no protection for the elements (sweatshirt and tights), improper foot ware (gym shoes). The weather was nice but up there it can change in an instant. I would say probably 70% of the people we saw on the trail were under prepared which puts the Rangers at risk everyday (on our way down we saw 3 Rangers heading up for a rescue as people couldn't descend in their shoes).

The number one reason for rescues (as quoted by one of the Rangers) is "People with their heads up their Ass". If you are going to try this hike (or any other hike) please respect the Mountain and the conditions. We were lucky enough to have solid weather but were prepared for much worse.

Cactus to Clouds is a great trail and worth the adventure (but definitely not as physically challenging as we thought).

off road driving
25 days ago

It’s a beautiful place for diving and Jeeping . A great way to spend an afternoon hiding out

The trail is beautiful, but the trailhead for the upper Holy Jim trail can be tricky to find. Once you come up to the road (North Main Divide) you make a right on to the road and walk another 1/4 mile south. the trailhead to the upper Holy Jim will be on your left side, marked by an arrow made of rocks on the ground.

it's easy to miss!

Proper preperation prevents poor performance.

March 20th was my third time on the mountain this winter and I had the pleasure of bringing the girlfriend recently.
Started at 3 am so we could be high enough for some good morning shots. Together we reached a point about 2.5 miles from the peak but the girlfriend was dead! She just got back the morning before from a week long trip to Bali so I don't blame her. Ran/Jogged the last 2 miles up. There's two little peaks at the top but I went to the one 20 feet lower in elevation so I could save the real peak for the girlfriend and I. All in all a good experience with the right gear..and weather lol

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