Skyline Trail: Cactus to Clouds is a 18.8 mile lightly 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 offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.
The Cactus to Clouds Trail from Palm Springs to San Jacinto Peak has the greatest elevation gain of any trail in the United States. Also known as the Skyline Trail, it climbs 8000 feet from the desert to Long Valley, then joins with the main trail to gain another 2600 feet to the summit. The Cactus to Clouds hike is long. You start on the desert floor and climb to 10,804 feet. You gain over 8,000 feet in the first 12 miles and much of this is hiking in dry arid desert conditions. This trail is nearly always completed by returning from the peak to the upper station of the Aerial Tramway and taking it back into Palm Springs. Please note that there is a fee for using the tram.
I read the information at the trail head and saw that this was a trail for intermediate-advanced hikers. I'm almost intermediate (hiked about 4 trails novice-intermediate prior) and I pushed myself for a total of 1.2 miles In and Out. Not much I know but it was a tedious trail on Skyline with some shifting shale and rocks going up an incline. I enjoyed the views over my new city and the wild flowers are in bloom. Abundance of different fragrances to entice your nose. I pushed myself to the top of the .5miles up and relished in my inactive bodies strains and pains...one small mountain at a time. I also met a couple of teachers with 4-5 children age 7-8 or so and a mom with her daughter around the same age of 8. I figured if they could I could too ✌️
I will do this hike again.
Climbed it yesterday. (Mar 18), started at 10am which was probably too late with the heat, made it to Long Valley / tram area around 5pm (that was pushing hard). The 2-3 miles before Long Valley are covered in significant snow. I'm not sure I was on the correct trail, followed footprints which involved some serious scrambling, very steep ice/snow sections. Crampons are a must, along with good trekking poles and gloves.
Edit: I now realize I ascended Notch 1 rather than the correct trail. Be careful following the footprints and stick to your GPS.
Great view of the valley. Trail head is easy to access from downtown Palm Springs. Hike in the morning and have a great lunch or dinner that same day.
Beautiful trail, just did it again for the fourth time. This time early January, was quite snowy near the tram and just below Grubbs Notch so we stopped at the tram (9 miles from Ramon Rd trailhead in Palm Springs)and decended, plus there is not enough daylight in the winter to do the complete trail even if snow levels allow. Wild flowers in late March and early April are great. The last two miles before the tram are very steep and count on your progress slowing by half here. Wouldn't recommend for casual hikers.
I only went part way, great work out for the legs. a fun steep path that was dirt with rocks along the edges. great view. going to hike it further tomorrow.
Well it isn't easy, that's for sure. Start early, bring water and a headlamp, and be prepared for huge temperature swings. This is an epic hike and typically and all day affair. The combination of length and elevation gain in this hike make it a real will tester. There are harder hikes, but this one is up there.
I did this hike with my gf on 11/11/16. We did a bit of the hike the day before, up to 1400 ft, which helped get our bearings straight. We left from the museum trail head at 2:15am. We took plenty of water (6L each) and I drank 4.5 L by the time we reached the tram/ranger station (11:45am) (we both refilled there). The final ascent to the summit isn't bad at all (as far as steepness/grade is concerned); but after the long day, we were a bit beat. We left the ranger station at 12:30pm and got to the summit at 3:30pm. We didn't stay at the summit long, just long enough to take 5-10 photos. We reached the tram/ranger station at 6pm. It was a very strenuous and long day, but the overall experience and sense of accomplish upon reaching the summit = well worth the effort. I would recommend buying souvenirs from the shop upon first arriving to the tram/ranger station...as the shop closes at approx 5pm. All in all, this is a great hike. Make sure you are training to do this, or at least are in great shape. It's not a hike to underestimate. Supplies: GPS watch, headlamps, hiking poles, electrolytes, Gu, Turkey jerky, PB&J sandwich, mad water in a camelback. Make sure you have food that you can eat while up there. I tend not to like large heavy meals while hiking, and tend to get fuel from things like Gu and jersey etc...as opposed to a hoagie. Find what works for you.