Explore the most popular birding trails in Mount San Jacinto State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

A mile from round valley 600 ft gain. Worth it for the view. Usually a breeze. Nice stop on the way to peak. Enjoy

This is a gorgeous and well maintained trail. The elevation gain was gradual, which is always nice. It happened to rain and hail on me for much of the hike, and I was SO COLD despite my fast pace. Bring layers, and definitely gloves!

I had no adventure pass, so had to wait until 8 am for the ranger station to open. It turns out I could have purchased one at the grocery store as well.

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 so much 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 used 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, and 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.

I use this trail for backpacking training. It usually takes me 10 to 12 hours round trip, depending on how I feel. Its long and intense, ideal for PCT, CDT or AT training. Bring plenty of water and food

hiking
5 days ago

Very solid loop trail. Because of the Notches/desert view points, it's probably a 4.5 hike. Also the Tram itself is awesome (an amazing ride).
Need to stop at the ranger station for a permit (free), even for day hikers.
A little rocky, but there are worse rocky situations. No bouldering.
See all the views at the Mountain/Tram Station itself (Grubbs view point is probably the best of all "notches/camera spots").
Good selection of beers at the Tram Station.

Stunning views. Easy hike.

hiking
9 days ago

Nice easy trail with an incredible view at the top!!! It is starting to get a little cool at the top but it sure beats the summer heat!! Found a good spot for a hammock nap at the top too!

Beautiful views, though physically challenging. Hiked the trail last Saturday. Went through five liters of water.

This is known as the shortcut to the cactus to clouds but it’s still pretty intense. I loved the scenery on this hike. I did this one about a month ago (early September) and it was about 100 degrees in Palm Springs but it’s about 30 degrees cooler at the top of the tram in the park so pack accordingly. I tried to get a ticket for the tram on the website but they were out so I just showed up 30 mins before the first tram at 8am and was able to get a ticket no problem. The hike is pretty easy to follow and shaded most of the way so it helps. The last 10th of a mile requires some scrambling but nothing too crazy.

Overall a good experience.

hiking
14 days ago

This hike is quite challenging. It is challenging because of its distance of over 18 miles and the over 5000 feet of elevation gain. We did it as a group hike at a moderate pace and it took us 9.5 hours to complete it. We did take a very long break at the summit and another good one at the PCT & Wellman's Divide junction. It is definitely not for a beginner hiker.

Great hike, very worth it. The climb to Little Round Valley is the hardest part. After the valley, the final assent isn’t much farther or as hard.

If you approach the highest point from directly below, there’s an easy boulder problem ;)

hiking
17 days ago

Just did this hike in August and have to say I was surprised how easy it was. The trail is sometimes not marked well and you can get off trail very easily. So keep your eyes straight if not you will be off trail. The mileage is off a tad it was 7.1 miles round trip.

Hiked this back in March, I went solo and it was such a peaceful and beautiful hike. I saw maybe 6 others on the way up and less on the way down. I had the top to myself for a good 30 minutes. Be sure to just take a seat on the large surface rock and soak it all in. Offers some incredible views! Get a trail permit!

on Suicide Rock Trail

hiking
19 days ago

Lovely trail, well maintained and easy to follow. Close to the top it’s harder to distinguish, so keep the canyon on your left and keep going up. Cool and nicely shaded, with great views throughout and then at the top. Seems well-travelled, and on a Thu the parking area was full by 11am when we returned. Took us 4 hrs, and measured out at close to 7.5 miles

Hiked it in sections on the weekends. It took 8.5 days, 2 3-day trips, 1 2 day trip and a half day to Cajon Pass from the 138. The highlight was seeing a bear just before we dropped down to White Water Preserve. Water is scarce on the North side of Big Bear Lake. We did a water drop at our half way point. It was sad to see Deep Creek so full of trash and graffiti.

hiking
22 days ago

Great hike - about 7 miles rather than 6.1 - took about an hour and 20 on the way up going at a good pace without stopping. Saves all the views for a beautiful reveal moment right at the end. Suicide rock seems appropriately named - watch out for the cliff edges!

hiking
23 days ago

Beautiful trail! Don’t forget to get your trail permit at the ranger station (we did, but luckily didn’t get asked), there are multiple reminders along the trail to have a permit. About 8.5 miles round trip took 3-3 1/2 hours round trip including a long stop at the top to enjoy the views. Highly recommend it if you’re in the area!

New favorite peak in Southern California. Took seven hours round trip including 45 m. at the peak. Beautiful.

hiking
24 days ago

Don’t forget your permit! Good training trail. A lot of evenly spaced ascending sections. Start early on sunny summer days. The first half of the trail is pretty exposed.

Amazing hike. Super windy and cold at the top, so dress in layers!

hiking
25 days ago

Start Early. Started at the trailhead just after sunrise and we had the trail to ourselves all the way up. Coming down we passed more than 20+ hikers. Great views from the top. Leave yourself an hour in your planning to explore at the trail crest.

hiking
26 days ago

Good hike and great training for other big hikes like Mt. Whitney or the Grand Canyon. The trail was in pretty good condition though a few places could use some trail work as the brush made the trail a bit tight in spots. The majority of the trail is good and was not hard to follow. There were also numerous signs at trail junctions to help keep you on the correct trail.

hiking
27 days ago

I started at 8.00am from Humber Park and this trip took a total of 10 hours taking it easy. I carried 4 liters of water and was well hydrated at the start. My pack weighed fifteen pounds. Note that the trail signs assert a round trip fo 15.6 miles. This is an awesome hike with the most spectacular views you could wish for. If you are reasonably fit this hike should not be difficult for you - slow and easy wins the day. The epic stuff begins at Wellman’s Divide. I was fortunate to see in the meadow below two Deer; stationary and staring at me the way they do. The foliage becomes dense and lush and the fall colors were starting to fire up. I was surprised to see that Wellman’s Cienega still had water though it was a divided, wide, weak stream but enough to gather if patient and use. It was perfect weather for hiking; cloudless, clear and warm and the perception was that you could see forever. I met only three hikers. It amazes me that on such a beautiful day the trail would be so deserted. To cap off a perfect day I drove highway 243 from Idyllwild as the sun was setting. Absolutely stunning landscape.

1 month ago

Midweek hike. Had a late start up the trail and had the summit peak all to myself! Beautiful views, enjoyed the late afternoon sun glowing through the forest trees on the way back down.

hiking
1 month ago

Description here is good and other reviews sum it up nicely - definitely a nice day hike.

Fun Labor Day weekend hike. Good solid uphill for 3 miles but beautiful views from the top. A bit hot today for my preference.

Steady gentle incline a good hike for conditioning about 20-25* cooler than rancho mirage and low desert

Awesome. Definitely not a hike if you’re looking for solitude, but beautiful and not too strenuous. Nice views from the peak.

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