Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mt. San Jacinto (Mt. San Jacinto State Park)

Mt. San Jacinto was the very first hike that Ashley and I ever did together and ultimately became the inspiration for our hiking blog. We did the hike in July of 2007 and Mt. San Jacinto via the Palm Springs Areal Tramway is a must do hike for any Southern Californian. Hiking to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto is a spectacular hike that continually rewards you with amazing views as you travel through Mt. San Jacinto State Park. We started our hike to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto by taking the tramway from Palm Springs up the mountain. This was one of the most memorable hikes ever for the both of us.

Directions to Trailhead: Ashley and I used the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to get up to the trailhead area of the San Jacinto Wilderness to hike to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto. To locate the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway look at this Map. The address for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is: One Tram Way, Palm Springs, CA. 92262. The Mountain Station where the tram drops you off has a restaurant, restrooms, and a nice little gift shop where you can pick up a trail map for your hike on the trail to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto. The trailhead to the top of Mt. San Jacinto starts at the Mountain Station where the tram lets you off. There is an area near the Long Valley Ranger Station to get your free wilderness permit which is required to do the hike. For a map of the trails click Here. For current pricing on the cost of tickets to use the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to get to the top click Here. When we went prices were approximately 23 dollars per adult.

Description of Hike: The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes you from the Valley Station located at 2,643 feet and drops you off at the Mountain Station which is located at 8,516 feet. The Mountain Station has a snack shop and restrooms as well as eating options, but this is the last bit of civilization before entering the Mt. San Jacinto State Park wilderness. Note that there are periodic maintenance closures of the Aerial Tramway during the month of August, so call 1-760-325-1391 to find their schedule in August. There is no cost for parking or for a wilderness permit for you hike to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto, those costs are all rolled into the amount charged for your tram ride to the Mountain Station.

The hike to the top of Mt. San Jacinto is 11 miles roundtrip with about 2,300 feet of elevation gain. The trail is well traveled and there are several options to get to the summit. A map is available for sale of the Mt. San Jacinto Wilderness State park and we would recommend purchasing one, when we went they were 2 dollars. The temperature on the mountain is much cooler than it is in the Palm Springs and the desert area below. Palm Springs was about 115 degrees Fahrenheit while the summit of Mt. San Jacinto was in the upper 70's. The whole hike with stops was about 7 - 8 hours. If you don't have time to hike to Mt. San Jacinto, there are two smaller nature trails located by the Mountain Station where the tram drops you off. There is a self-guided nature trail and the Desert View Trail which offers panoramas of the high country including several peaks over 10,000 feet in elevation. Maps for these trails are provided free of charge with your ticket to ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The hiking trail is well maintained and usually well marked. This is an out and back hike along a dirt trail that is at times rocky and uneven. 

Further Thoughts: We started our hike to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto early in the morning. Ashley and I and were on the tram at about 9am (the hike is an all day affair). We then hiked the rest of the way to the top of Mt. San Jacinto which is 10,834 feet above sea level. The overall hike was 11 miles roundtrip and the trail was in good condition, except for the top where it got very rocky. The last push to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto is a little scramble climbing over large rocks/boulders, but just remember the views are worth the extra effort during the last scramble  There are plenty of rocks on the summit of Mt. San Jacinto that serve as great places to enjoy lunch while taking in the spectacular views. Ashley and I enjoyed our lunch at the top of Mt. San Jacinto, which is we would recommend even though there are other areas to eat lunch along the hiking trail. This was a great hike as far as scenery goes and it is really hard to beat the views at the summit. Water was still present in the creeks even though it was summer and we saw deer and other wildlife while we were hiking on the trail to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto. During the summer months, be on the lookout for thunderstorms that occasionally develop in this section of the San Bernardino National Forest and the Mt. San Jacinto State Park. The best season to do this hike is the late spring, summer, and early fall as during the wintertime this peak becomes snow covered. Only experienced and properly equipped hikers should attempt the climb to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto when there is snow present. Current weather conditions at the Mountain Station can be found Here.

The view at the top of Mt. San Jacinto was astounding. We were able to see all around. Ashley and I could see Saddleback Mountain, Mt San Gorgonio, the Inland Empire, and the entire Palm Springs area. Over all we both gave the hike two thumbs way up! We hope to come back to this area on a regular basis.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 2,300 ft. (Moderate - Strenuous), Distance: 11 Miles Roundtrip (Moderate - Strenuous), Note: be on the watch for Altitude sickness since the height of Mt. San Jacinto is 10,834 ft.

Time to Complete Hike: 6.5 - 8 hours.


July 10, 2007 (This Post)

View Mt. San Jacinto in a larger map

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Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.