Cactus To Clouds Trail to San Jacinto Peak

HARD 8 reviews

Cactus To Clouds Trail to San Jacinto Peak is a 13 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Palm Springs, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.

13.0 miles
10,396 feet
Point to Point



nature trips



wild flowers


no dogs

Planning on attacking Southern California's mother of endurance hikes? Try getting a taste first to help better prepare. This hike was to get familiar with the C2C trail of Mt. San Jacinto for future attempts and the goal of reaching the summit in the future. The idea was to get an estimate on climbing rate, time, weather/climate change, terrain, trail maintenance, challenge level, and provisions/gear needed to successfully climb the mountain.  This is a very difficult hike and people have died or been injured while hiking here. Use caution and you will have a challenging but rewarding hike.

2 months ago

April 28, 2018 - No snow, a bit windy on top but a wind breaker was enough . I started from the museum but I guess it's all the same.

Great hike, and very strenuous. I did the C2C2C, so I didn't take the tram down - according to my GPS going to the top is more like 16 miles so alltrails seem a bit off (2x=32 and about 11500 total elevation change). It's the hardest trail I've done so far. It's possible but quite a challenge 4AM to 7PM, without much stop other than refill water. And I'm a decently fast uphill hiker. The view is nice, and it is special to start in the desert with flowering cacti, get to tree level, and having this wonderful view up top. Also by starting at night, you don't get to see much of the desert at first (if you start early enough) but you get to see it if you go down.

So if you are looking for a butt kick, go for it, either up to the ranger station, up to the peak, or even C2C2C. The good thing is that thanks to the tram and ranger station, you have a way out if you tackle more than you should have. And you have refills of water (at least it was possible when I did it).

Regardless of what you do, you should know that starting at night is THE way to do this - I started at 4 AM and I think most people start at 3. The trail is decently marked, and it was full moon so I didn't use my headlamp (except after being flared by other hikers). Having a GPS is nice anyway to not lose any time wondering, but not an absolute must-have. By starting early, you get to be already up 3-4k up already, so it won't get as hot once you are in the trees. The other thing to know is bring a lot of water, but when I did it, you could refill water at the ranger station. I brought about 4 L, and drank all day about 13-14 L to give you an idea.

If you want to try to go the whole way, here are the time to give you some idea if you are late and should bail. As I said before, I'm a decently fast uphiller, so it's good to keep in mind when planning your day.

4:15 AM start
9:15 Ranger station (+water)
12:00 Peak
2:45 Start decent from ranger station (+water)
7:00 Back to palm spring

5 months ago

This trail is no joke. 10 plus miles to the tram, with an 8000 ft ascent. Another 5.5 miles and 2500 ft up from the tram to the peak. Super steep and long. Snow and ice can make this trail even more difficult and dangerous. Do not attempt if you are not well prepared and hardcore! Unprepared hikers have died trying this trail in the incredibly hot summer. Serious only please!

Sunday, May 07, 2017


4 months ago

Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Sunday, October 30, 2016