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Willow Creek Trail to Hidden Lake and Round Valley Loop

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Mount San Jacinto State Park

Willow Creek Trail to Hidden Lake and Round Valley Loop is a 5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Palm Springs, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October.

Distance: 5.0 miles Elevation Gain: 971 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

fee

no dogs

Accessing the trailhead first requires a trip on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The ride is $25 for an adult. Permits are required and can be obtained for free at the Ranger station at the first junction past the Tram station. The Round Valley Loop is an excellent day hike encompassing much of the valley between the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and Mount 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. Many other trails, including the hike to San Jacinto peak itself, branch off from this loop.

hiking
muddy
snow
6 months ago

snowshoeing
snow
7 months ago

Heavy snow today ,we had to break trail the entire way to the lake. Permits needed from ranger station

Hiked from round valley to hidden lake

hiking
7 months ago

Great trail but be aware you have to pay $8.00 for parking and $29.95 for the tram ride ($24.95 seniors). It’s worth it! Wish I would have backpacked and spent the night. This trail is marked as Round Valley Trail to High Trail and back on Willow Creek Trail after stop off at Hidden Lake. You can reach this trail without a tram ride if you come into Idyllwild but it would be appx 10 miles to get to.

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

Did Round Valley Loop in the afternoon after I spent the morning birding around the meadow. Haven’t made it to the lake yet; will need to start earlier to get a permit. Nice trail, nothing special but a good relief from the desert heat. August 25, 2019.

hiking
10 months ago

This is a nice hike and change from just making the Round Valley Loop. I’ve been going up the PS Tram for many years and didn’t know about this Hidden Lake until All trails. You do need special permit on top of the standard backcountry permit, which both can be obtained at the Ranger station (both are free). Enjoyed the desert views too!

hiking
11 months ago

Important: the hike will probably be a level harder than it looks due to the severe elevation gain. Plan accordingly and bring extra water. Also note that it’s 30 or so degrees cooler than the Palm Springs area. A fun mid level hike. I did not know about Hidden Lake until I stopped by the ranger station. He showed me a photo depicting the landmarks around its intentionally poorly marked spur trail, which made it easy to find. Perfect spot for a snack before returning on High and Round Valley Trails. Had time, so I went up a mile or so to Wellman Divide before returning to the tram. The trails were Saturday busy with day hikers and overnighters, but not overburdened.

hiking
11 months ago

Perfect trail to escape the summer heat.

hiking
11 months ago

Beautiful day for a hike. Quiet. The Hidden Lake almost kept true to its name. Full of water today.

hiking
11 months ago

The lake is off limits Tuesday through Thursday. In addition to the day hiking permit, this area requires a special permit and only 30 are available. there are no trails indicated to the spot because of the endangered wildflower that grows here. please have respect for the rules and acquire a permit at the ranger station. Happy trails everyone

hiking
Mon Jun 10 2019

Perfect to get away from the desert area heat. We took the 8am tram on a Sunday to get permits to Hidden Lake. I believe only 20 permits are given out and only on weekends. Worth it!!

hiking
Mon Jun 03 2019

Loved this one. Nice stream, clear skies, barely anyone around

hiking
Thu May 30 2019

Trail was very fun and full of obstacles, but not anything a child couldn’t do. This is a good challenging hike for a beginner and a nice hike for an experienced hiker. There was snowy patches towards the “top” so about 1.5 miles up. The way down is really easy, pure downhill. Wonderful views the whole way, makes you realize how vast and beautiful California is, especially since it’s so close to a hot desert!

hiking
Sat May 04 2019

Hiked this on Saturday with the family. Quite a few snow patches around still but all soft and nothing a good pair of boots can't handle. Finding Hidden Lake was a bit of a challenge as there was no evidence of a path or signage so we overshot on Willow Creek Trail and had to come back, maybe it was the snow on the trail, I don't know. That wasn't too far out of the way though and it gave a nice viewpoint. My gps tracked the whole route at just under 7miles from the tram. Beautiful trail and Hidden Lake was a gem - we had the whole place to ourselves to eat our lunch - very idyllic :)

hiking
Thu Oct 11 2018

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. Without the arial tram itself, this would be a 3.5/5 hike. If the tram fee doesn't bother you, it's a 4/5.

Wed Jul 25 2018

Nice trail for a moderate hike. Partly shady.

backpacking
Sun Jul 01 2018

Got an early start on a Sunday. Rode the tram up to the trailhead. Fair amount of day hikers and rock climbers. But after I got to Round Valley the crowd thinned out. Nice uphill hike. Not too bad. I went counterclockwise and had about 45lb pack. Took plenty of rests and enjoyed the scenery. Glad there was a trickle of water at RV ranger station. I climbed the trail to Lotus campsite. Nice ridge to camp. About 4 nice level spots. Cool breeze too. But the wind died down at dusk. Very peaceful sleeping that time of year (July). Nice views east towards the desert and Salton Sea. Very relaxing and some nice areas to explore too. Broke camp Tuesday morning. Very nice hike back to the tram, all down hill, until you get to the tram station. That last hump on the pavement to the station was kinda tuff. Nice facilities at the station, restaurant, bar, snacks, good way to end the trip. Ranger Bill and Jerry were so helpful and friendly.

hiking
Thu Jun 28 2018

Lovely loop that lets you hike the Mt. San Jacinto area yet stay relatively close to the Tram station. The trail head begins at the sign behind the ranger's station where you must fill out a permit. The permit is free, but be sure to get one. The fine, if you're caught without one, is expensive ($450). At the sign, you have to choose if your going to go left (clockwise) or right (counter clockwise). Going clockwise will be steeper, yet shorter ascent to the High Country trail. It will be a tough climb if you're not in shape. Plenty of rocks and boulders to sit and rest if needed. Counter clockwise the hike to the High Country trail will be about twice as long, but the ascent not nearly as steep. You can also explore the surrounding area off this trail such as Round Valley and the Willow Creek Trail. Be sure to drop off the copy of your permit before heading back up to the the Tram station.

hiking
Tue May 22 2018

Great loop trail at the top of the tram. Recommend going counter clockwise on the trail so you get the harder rockier part of the trail out of the way going up.

Wed Apr 25 2018

Beautiful hike! ♡

Mon Apr 23 2018

Great trail. Views were amazing through the trail and breathtaking from the desert view points. Will be going back for several hikes and improve my stamina for longer hikes.

Thu Apr 12 2018

Apparently one must take the tram to get to the trailhead. I’m not sure why the All Trails review failed to mention that. Would’ve been good to know. I had no interest in a tram ride so did not end up hiking this trail. Pretty disappointing.

hiking
Thu Apr 05 2018

It was a great refreshing hike that got us out of the sun and heat. We didn’t buy a map and took a picture of the trail map at the bottom of the tram path as our guide. That worked well. Still some snow and ice in patches on the trail.

hiking
Wed Apr 04 2018

This was a great hike for all ages. We took our 6 yr old, 11 yr old and 17 yr. old and they all enjoyed it. It did not have very many long stretches of uphills that frustrate our youngest. The trail had a few slushy/icy patches but they weren’t big nor were they muddy. The trail was mostly clear walking over sandy dirt but it also had a few short areas that you walk over some boulders that are mostly underground. In terms of length, it was a bit long for our youngest so we gave him piggy back rides on and off throughout. The terrain is varied enough though that we could make believe we were American Ninja Warriors to keep him going. The scenery is amazing! Huge trees, giant boulders of granite. Plenty of open areas plus areas where you’re weaving through the boulders. On this hike, there isn’t a place where you overlook all of Palm Desert/Springs but there are other trails in the same area that you can. The time of day we hiked (11:30-1:30) wasn’t very busy on this particular hike. We saw 4 other groups of two people the whole time we were hiking. The ranger was very helpful in selecting a trail based on our skill levels and gear. He had a great knowledge base of the history, flora and fauna. BE AWARE!!! you HAVE TO sign up for a FREE hiking permit to hike anywhere outside the two short hikes (Desert View Trail and Discovery Nature Trail) that are right behind the aerial tramway (see next paragraph). If you don’t, the ticket is $450. You stop at the white and red Ranger station that is west and downhill from the tram. This hike is at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and I’m unsure if there is another easy rout right to this trail. The tram ride costs $25/adult and $17/child. You can get a discount on tickets365.com. The ride is amazing as is the history of the tram.

hiking
Sat Mar 10 2018

Great loop trail at the top of the tram. Took us exactly 2 hours. Views are spectacular. We went counter clockwise going up through the trees and down with the overlook views. This was recommended by the rangers and was terrific. A bi of squishy snow in places. Highly recommended

hiking
Wed Feb 21 2018

Hiked this trail on Monday, 2/19/18. It was snowing with a wind advisory on Monday. Trail was beautiful snow covered. Hard to follow with the snow at times. About a mile in I encountered ice so I put on my crampons/micro spikes and hiked the rest of the trail with no problem.

Sat Feb 17 2018

Easy scenic route

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