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The deeply weathered summit of Mount San Jacinto stands 10,834 feet above sea level, and is the second highest mountain range in Southern California. No more than a two hour drive from either Los Angeles or San Diego, the mountain's magnificent granite peaks, subalpine forests, and fern-bordered mountain meadows offer a unique opportunity to explore and enjoy a scenic, high-country wilderness area. The park offers two drive-in campgrounds near the town of Idyllwild. Most of the park is a designated wilderness area enjoyed by hikers and backpackers When you enter Mount San Jacinto State Park, you come into the heart of the wilderness, high in the San Jacinto Mountains. This 14,000-acre park can be reached via Highway 243 from Idyllwild or by tram from Palm Springs. Granite peaks, subalpine forests and mountain meadows offer the best opportunity to enjoy a primitive high-country experience south of the Sierra Nevada range. San Jacinto Peak - a giant, often snowcapped crag marked by great upthrusts of weathered granite - rises almost 11,000 feet above sea level. It is the highest peak in the San Jacinto Range and in the California State Park system, and the second-highest point in southern California. Several other peaks within the park are over 10,000 feet, and much of the rest of the park, standing at more than 6,000 feet in elevation, is cool and comfortable in the summer. From the Tramway Mountain Station, you can see Palm Springs, green with golf courses and agriculture made possible through irrigation of the Coachella Valley. The vistas from the park sweep into the desert beyond Palm Springs for more than a hundred miles, extending southeast to the Salton Sea and beyond into the Imperial Valley. The northeast face of the San Jacinto Range plunges down 9,000 feet in less than four miles, making it one of the steepest and most spectacular escarpments in North America. Starting in Chino Canyon near Palm Springs, the tram takes passengers from Valley Station at 2,643 feet elevation to Mountain Station on the edge of the wilderness, elevation 8,516 feet. The Mountain Station features a restaurant, gift shop, snack bar, and the state park visitor center. In Long Valley, a short walk from the station, you will find the Long Valley Ranger Station, a picnic area with barbecue stoves and restrooms, a ski center, a self-guiding nature trail, and Desert View Trail which offers panoramas of the high country including several peaks over 10,000 feet in elevation. You can also enter the hiking trail system from this point.

Loved this hike. beautiful time of year to hike it. We left at 4:15 AM and I'm glad I had the GPX tracker as we lost the trail several times. Made it to San Jacinto peak at 1 pm and down to the tram by 4. It was hard but not as bad as the reviews make it out to be. Great experience.

Almost a week later and I still cannot believe I completed the infamous "Cactus to Clouds" hike in Palm Springs. Rated the "Fifth Most Difficult Day Hike in the United States" by Backpacker Magazine, the hike starts on the desert floor of Palm Springs (near the cactus) and gains thousands of feet of elevation leading to San Jacinto Peak (up in the clouds).

I woke up at 1:00am Sunday morning (10/15) to meet at my carpool spot by 2:00am. Kiyomi, Jessy, and I headed to Palm Springs and arrived in time for our 4:15am start. Sure it may have been pitch dark but with the desert sun, it heats up quickly and we had to climb as much as possible before the sun would start scorching us. One of my fellow WTC students, Charles, arranged the hike and although I had been incredibly hesitant I decided to give it a go. After all, I thought I was going to stop once we arrived at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

So at 4:15am we started the ascent and there was no turning back. Literally, no turning back... Once you start on the Skyline Trail portion of C2C, you are committed to climbing 8,000+ feet in ~9 miles. Turning around is simply not an option as you would descend into an inferno otherwise known as the desert heat.

The Skyline portion was not terrible until the sun started heating up the exposed trail. I was carrying three liters of water and a 32 ounce Gatorade and reached the tram with about half a liter of water to spare. Water is not available until you complete the Skyline Trail (arrive at the tram). I was thankful for all the snacks I brought - especially the bananas which I am certain helped avoid cramping.

Our group of seven reached the tram around noon (we took a lot of breaks) and enjoyed a break while eating lunch. I felt like I could make the push for the peak - another 5 miles and ~2,500 feet of gain + 5 miles back - so myself and five others departed the tram and headed for the peak. My body started feeling it about two miles from the peak. But, with great determination I continued on. After all, I hadn't hiked ~12/13 miles just to turn around two miles from the destination. Four of us reached the peak. I was overcome with joy as I scrambled up the rocks and caught sight of the "Mt. San Jacinto Peak" sign at about 4:30pm.

"Set your goals high and don't stop till you get there." Well, I followed this quote and reached the summit. Unfortunately, what goes up must come down. The trek back to the tram was exhausting - both mentally and physically. My feet were aching, my muscles were sore, and the sun was setting faster than we were descending. It was time to put the headlamp back on; we started the hike with it and we finished with it as well. Reaching the tram around 7:00pm, I had never been so happy to end a hike (and that's saying something!!) We waited for the rest of the group, took the tram down, hopped in an Uber, and returned to the Palm Springs Art Museum where we had left the car 14+ hours before.

My Fitbit said I walked/hiked more than 68,900 steps/28.4 miles on Sunday - more than most people walk in an entire week. It was exhausting and I seriously contemplated calling in sick to work yesterday as my body felt like it was ran over by a semi truck but I did it. I completed the "Fifth Most Difficult Hike" in the entire United States. I had hiked from the Cactus to the Clouds. I completed the trek to San Jacinto's boulder-strewn crown in such a way that is only 800 vertical feet shorter than the climb from Everest basecamp to the summit and comparable to doing more than a thousand flights of stairs. This hike was no joke and everyone even thinking about attempting it should do their homework and check it twice.

Amazing hike. Started at 0300 and we were at the summit and back to the tram in 13.5 hours.

hiking
3 days ago

This one is a little less traveled than anything starting at Humber Park in town. It is somewhat steep, so get ready to work out. There is plenty of room at the view to have a peaceful, private spot to rest, and you might even get the whole thing to yourself!

Trail was much easier than I expected. Took 5 of us about 4 1/2 hours with a nice stop/break at the top for lunch & pictures!

hiking
5 days ago

The Round Valley Loop is an excellent day hike encompassing much of the valley between the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and Mt. San Jacinto. Hiking the loop in a counter-clockwise direction takes one up a steady climb along side a seasonal creek to Round Valley. It then travels along the southern rim of the valley with great views of Mt. San Jacinto and other nearby peaks before dropping back into the valley and the Tram Station area. Lots of great scenery and chances to see wildlife.

Great hike (10/14/17). I paid the $5 parking fee and $30 Tram ticket. As expected the tram ride was very enjoyable. I got the 8:45 tram that was not crowded. Once at the top, got the hiking permit and was hiking by 9:15. Lots of people but everyone was pleasant. Easy to follow trail by turning right at every junction (left on the way down). The rock scrambling at the very top was very doable. Great views, great day!! I enjoyed a beer at the bar afterwards and was surprised by a 45 minute wait to get tram, and very crowded, but was still enjoyable ride.

Super steep but super cool! Definitely coming back!

Be Prepared!!! We started the hike at 1.30 am and finished at 3pm... we did take a long break at the tram station after completing the Skyline trail before going up to the summit. But its a long day.

Skyline trail (from the desert floor to the tram station) is practically straight up for about 6 hours the last mile or 2 is the worst as you are already tired and it just gets steeper. It is also quite easy to lose the trail so you really have to pay attention to the white dots painted on the rocks and notice the stones on the ground trying to block off a certain path.

I would have been happy to stop at the tram station but we ended up summiting so we could complete the Cactus to Cloud trail. The last 2 miles back down to the tram were never ending. I'm glad I did it but don't think I would want to again (not for a long while anyways)

If you are planning on doing this hike make sure you can handle hours of steep elevation and know it will be a very long day - then you should be good. Happy Hiking!

Pretty tough hike. First backpacking overnight hike.