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Skyline Trail: Cactus to Clouds is a 19.8 mile heavily 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.

Length 19.8 mi Elevation gain 10,459 ft Route type Point to Point

Backpacking

Camping

Hiking

Nature trips

Bird watching

Running

Forest

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Rocky

Scramble

Snow

Off trail

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (6)
Facilities
Contact
Tips
Getting There

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 8,000 feet from the desert to Long Valley, then joins with the main trail to gain another 2,600 feet to the summit. The good news is that you can take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway down the mountain! 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. 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. You will probably want to buy tram tickets in advance, or leave yourself ample time and be ready for a bit of a wait. There are snacks and drinks available while waiting for the tram. TRAMWAY INFO: Winter Hours (September 2, 2019 – May 23, 2020) Monday – Friday – First Tram up 10:00am Saturday, Sunday and Holidays – First Tram up 8:00am Daily – Last Tram up at 8:00pm. Last Tram down at 9:45pm Summer Hours (May 24 – September 1, 2019) Monday – Thursday – First Tram up 10:00am Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Holidays – First Tram up 8:00am Sunday – Thursday – Last Tram up at 8:00pm, Last Tram down 9:45pm Friday & Saturday – Last Tram up 9:00pm and last Tram down at 10:30pm Cars depart at least every half hour. *Prices and Hours Of Operation Are Subject to Change Without Notice. Sorry, pets are not allowed. Children under 16 years must be accompanied by an adult of 21 years or older. Holiday Hours The first Tram up is at 8am on the following holidays: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day Weekend President’s Day Weekend Memorial Day Weekend Independence Day Labor Day Weekend Thanksgiving Day Weekend Christmas Week New Year’s Day

To reach the trailhead from North Palm canyon Dr. in Palm Springs, go 0.2 mile west on Tahquitz Canyon Way, then turn right on Museum Rd. Park on the road and walk across the street to find the trailhead in the northwest corner of the museum parking lot. No water is available en-route.

Long Valley Ranger Station Mt. San Jacinto State Park (951) 659-2607 www.sanjac.statepark.org Palm Springs Aerial Tram (760) 325-1391 www.pstramway.com

-Start early like 2 or 3 am in cooler temp and to maximize daylight later. Have an adequate light source (headlamp w/ spare batteries) -Start w/ minimal warming layers at the bottom to avoid overheating and only add as the altitude and atmosphere demands. Wear good footwear (hiking boots) for there are many ankle twisting points along the way. -the trail is easily identifiable and easy to follow, the first mile or so has white spray painted dots every so often on the rocks identifying your path. Once you pass the white painted rock stating,"Long Valley 8 Miles" the paint indicators seem to stop but the trail is still easy to follow. Watch the trail....a lot of locals have etched shortcuts into the trail eliminating a lot of unnecessary switchbacks. However using the switchback shortcuts add double the gain for the distance needed to shortcut. where just sticking to the trail gives you the normal gradual gain but the unnecessary distance. Either way watch the trail at these points so you maintain your bearing and stay on course. -Bring water! those that are conditioned can move requiring less but those less conditioned will need more. I went through a gallon by 4500 feet. The only place to get more along the way is at the tram station another 4000 feet up!...... -Make no mistake, when you take your first step on this hike the mountain immediately throws it's elevation gain against you and doesn't really let off until around 4500 feet and even that is brief. This point is indicated as the furtherest distance traveled on this map. The first 10 miles your climbing 8,000 and you feel it in every step forward so be mentally prepared to get fatigued. -Constantly calculate your provisions (food, water) to assess how long you will be able to push. Along with this prior to stepping off ensure you know the sunrise and sunset times to include into your back planning. Weather is the other big issues, temperatures, wind, and lightning. ensure your packed for the elements and if you plan on crossing into the snow level that you have appropriate gear for you safety and freedom of movement. If you are ill equipped for the task or run out of provisions or feel at anytime your going to need to turn around, make sure you plan a drop dead time no matter where you are to turn around and descend. In a nutshell have a plan for the worst case scenario. -Bring a good partner to share the experience and help motivate you up the trail. -Most importantly, enjoy your climb and play it safe and smart.

The trail starts behind the Palm Springs Art Museum. To reach the trailhead from North Palm canyon Dr. in Palm Springs, go 0.2 mile west on Tahquitz Canyon Way, then turn right on Museum Rd.

Weather
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Reviews (639)
Photos (2274)
Recordings (468)
Completed (1159)
Travis Fisher
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 14 2020
HikingBlowdownNo shadeRocky

Did cactus to clouds (and back to cactus due to tram closure). Must leave parking lot before 2AM (I left at 10PM). Trail can be difficult to follow at times, and there’s some trees blown down on the upper section. No snow on trail, and creek is running at Long Valley, need some kind of filter for any of the water sources at the ranger station/tram. Down-hiking from the tram to the parking lot is brutal: hiking poles strongly recommend. Won’t do this again until tram is running and you can ride down.

sean bobinski
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed May 27 2020
Hiking

Did this October 19’. Awesome hike. Definitely not the hardest hike I’ve done (easier than Whitney for reference). Highly recommend it! Great push and work out. View is nice. Last 2 miles seems endless

Sam Konowitch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon May 25 2020
HikingOff trail

May 25 notes: Tram is not open, you have to do the full C2C2C or descend via another route. Mile 7.5 through Grubb's Notch is pretty sketchy with some downed trees and branches next to steep drop offs. I would have lost the trail several times without an offline map and GPS. Creeks are running and refill station is open at Round Valley (filter necessary). Restrooms have running water at Long Valley, but no potable water. My GPS watch clocked 16 miles museum to summit not 14. Prepare yourself.

Shelley Stewart
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun May 24 2020
Hiking

Hiked it yesterday May 23rd. Trail in great condition. I mean it needs some trail maintenance, lots of fallen trees. But other than that things were great. The little residual snow is of no consequence. You dont have to over-carry water. Don't hike in the desert during peak hot hours. Use common sense. Once at Long Valley you can refill. But you'll have to filter it. Tram is not running so remember this is not an option to save you. I went down by route of Marion Mnt campground. I had a vehicle waiting there. Once again there is tons of water on the trail. This is a long hard hike. Don't doubt it. But at it's easiest right now.

Anali Vargas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun May 17 2020
No shadeRocky

Whoa this place has a nice view but make sure to take plenty of water and wear sunblock.

Jeffery Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue May 12 2020
Hiking

Attempted on 4-25-2020 This is one of my favorite hikes it was my second time doing it and got to about 3 miles shy of the peak. Took a good amount of time hiking cactus to clouds to cactus. Ended up being 23.4 miles and 8881 feet of elevation gain. I needed snow shoes to make the peak this time being the first person to attempt it since quarantine. I just uploaded my videos and pictures from the hike on my Instagram if you’d like to see a more in depth view of the trail. meat_the_adventure

Brandon Graham
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat May 02 2020
HikingNo shadeOver grownRocky
View Brandon's Recording
Justin Ross
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Apr 17 2020
HikingOff trailRockyScrambleSnow

2nd time doing to the - at the tree line trail gets lost under the snow - 3 to 4 feet of soft melting snow - wet - the weather was perfect both at the start and at the trame. Didn’t go to the summit due to trame close but still 22ish miles or beautiful San Jacinto.

andrew zolopa
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Mar 19 2020
Hiking

Hiked from N Lykken trail head to snow line at 7500 ft. On Sunday March 15. The last mile ( aka The traverse) has patchy icy snow fields - would highly recommend micro spikes to cross. I turned back at about a 1/4 mile into the traverse - the Tram is closed due to COVID 19 pandemic. So you have to hike back - all told a 19 mile out and back for me - ( 2/3s C2C2C) great challenging hike! Enjoy! Andrew Z

Tara Vander Vliet
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Mar 17 2020
HikingRocky

I hiked this trail from the North Lykken trail to the Skyline Trail, tuning back at 5,000 feet elevation. According to my Fitbit we did 14 miles out and back, but according to my fellow hikers, we only did 10. I’ll agree to 12. It is a constant climb and coming down isn’t any easier albeit faster. Like any trail, do as much or little of the trail as you are able to. There are rewards on this trail around every corner especially now, during the spring months. The weather was perfect, getting cooler the higher I got. No bugs and lots of sun.

Donna McCormick
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Mar 13 2020
HikingRocky
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Alex Rojo Galeana
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Mar 10 2020
HikingScrambleSnow

Not going to lie, this trail was down-right hard and made me want to quit a dozen times. A couple of thoughts: 1) Train! Regardless of how good of shape you think you’re in, improving your cardio can only help in this trail. The elevation is the farthest thing from gradual and keeps you on your toes 90% of the trail (minus the last 5 miles past the tram; here its much more gradual since it only climbs around 2,000 feet in around 5 miles). 2) Seeing how the environment changes as you change elevation is awesome. As a nature lover, I nerded out on this hard. 3) There’s some sketchy areas in the last 1.5 miles of Skyline. You have to traverse through some steep slopes filled with snow where a fall could be fatal. HIGHLY recommend bringing microspikes, as I was very nervous doing this in my hiking boots. On a related note, Jacinto is getting snow today (March 10) so all of the tough trail conditions I just mentioned will be magnified for a bit. 4) Last couple of miles before the summit are fairly snowy right now. Microspikes would help here as well. 5) Trail is fairly well maintained, but I still recommend bringing your AllTrails GPS to be safe. Especially in the last couple of miles below the tram. Because of the snow and elevation gain, here the trail is a bit harder to keep track of. All in all, this is a radically gratifying yet incredibly hard experience that will bring you an intense sense of accomplishment. I wish anyone thinking of doing this the best of luck. :)

John B
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Mar 08 2020
RunningRockyScrambleSnow

This is an amazing challenge and I see why people say it’s so difficult. If you train properly you can nail it no problem. This trail is stunning, being able to see the valley floor just disappear like this is unforgettable. I went up March 8th 2020 to the peak in just a touch over 6 hours, if you’re hiking fast I’d think it is about an 8-9 hour hike. The pitch up at 7.5 miles to the tram is pretty tough and the snow “starts” to play a role in the difficulty. I say it, “starts”, to because somewhere around 11 miles to the peak I 100% needed Yaks, even with my extra grippy OCR shoes. That hard packed but deep snow made forward progress much slower and finding the trail a bit tougher. GPS was spot on and I used it a ton to navigate through the trail run but more so the last 5 miles to the peak. This was a bucket list trail of mine and it did not disappoint, I’ll be taking some friends back shortly.

Hiker Guy 1
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Feb 28 2020
HikingBlowdownIcyMuddySnow

Hi, Did C2C 02/20, started at around 3:45a from the museum. Trail was very well marked all the way to the picnic tables. With a headlamp the white markings were really easy to see, beyond the tables there seemed to be less side trails so the need for the white dots was less. The trail itself was in great condition, there were no obstacles or snow until quite high up. Beyond the flat rock and before the flats going to the ranger station is where I ran into snow. As of yesterday the snow was hard packed with footprints so navigation was very easy. Thanks the those that kicked steps! I didn’t need yak tracks or shoe spikes at this point as the snow was just warm enough I had decent traction. Outside taps were off at the ranger station when I went by at 08:40 but inside the washroom directly beside the outside taps the water was on. A sort distance beyond the ranger station the trail was pretty much snow covered till the peak. I didn’t find the need to wear spikes, in the forest where things were shaded the snow was hard and easy to walk on. Higher up it had only started to get a little slushy so traction again was good. There are spots that are getting a good amount of sun and warming a lot. I had one time where I post holed up to my thigh, in shorts it wasn’t fun. From the peak back to wellman’s I did put my yak tracks on, I found going down harder to keep traction and they helped a lot. I was wearing arcteryx trail running shoes, I would of preferred my hiking boots. I was back down to the gondola in 9 hrs, all in all a great trail in awesome condition. Oh Rescue 2 had 6-7 bottles of water and a power bar, I didn’t look into Rescue 1. I used around 6L of water and would of liked more!

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Mike introvertedoutdoors
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Feb 23 2020
Hiking

Completed C2C2C Feb 23rd. Have done C2C as well a few times, and that extra 2C really makes the difference. C2C2C is much more difficult than C2C. You really start feeling it those last 10 miles. Also do not agree with the below review where it is mentioned the person thought this was easier than Whitney. I've done both as a day-hike and C2C is even more difficult than Whitney. Whitney is a pretty easy trail, and unless you're affected by the elevation, it's a pretty easy hike compared to C2C and C2C2C.

Erik Eugene
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Feb 20 2020
HikingRockySnow

Did the trail up to the tram today. It took just about six hours with few stops. I carried 4 L of water but used 2 1/2L. I wore a long sleeve T-shirt and shorts the whole time but had plenty of other layers in my pack that I could’ve called on if it got colder or if there were a disaster. This was my first time on the trail and I did go alone. I had the all trails GPS app with me which gave me great confidence but I never used it for guidance because the trail was easy to find. I would say the trail is about as easy to identify as any desert mountain trail anywhere. Occasionally you’ll lose it but 10 feet later it reappears. There are many little branches off the trail but they always come right back to it. This annoyed me at first but I quit worrying about it about halfway through I didn’t really care if I was on the main trail or a small branch since I knew from the map they never went anywhere. The last 1500 feet or so were definitely very snowy with hard pack. But again the trail was easy to find and there were footholds from all the people in front of me since the snow is old. I had micro spikes which was a must in my mind. You could also manage with yak tracks. I did see the footprints of some running shoes or hiking boots and they were sliding occasionally up 2 feet before gaining purchase which looked scary. I definitely noticed the thinning air at around 7 miles in. I’m surprised how much that affected me. My heart rate really increased and my speed slowed down but it was still manageable. The first 2 miles in the last 2 miles were definitely the hardest/steepest. The middle section felt a little flatter which was very nice even though it was steadily going up but not as crazy as the first or last two miles.

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