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Hiking Mountain Biking Pine Trees Jun 16, 2024
Special Instructions
Wilderness Permit Req'd
San Jacinto Ranger District
54270 Pinecrest
Idyllwild, CA 92549
(909) 382-2921

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You are here: Home : Hiking Last Updated on 05/09/2004    
Diff: Rating 10/10
Scenic: Rating 8/10
Tech: Rating 2/10
San Jacinto Peak
         Cactus to Clouds, from Palm Springs Museum
Location: San Jacinto Mountains, San Bernardino National Forest, Southern California
Region: San Jacinto Region
Wilderness: San Jacinto Wilderness
Total Distance: 24 Mi
Elevation Gain: 10,800 Ft
Season: April-Nov
Type: Loop
Start Elev: 460 Ft
Peak Elev: 10,804 Ft
Total Time: 11 hr
Time In: 9 hr
Time Out: 2 hr

Peak List Peak List
Peak Name Elevation
San Jacinto Peak 10,804 Ft

Hike added by
on 05/08/2004
Driving Directions
Take Hwy 10 E toward BEAUMONT.
Merge onto CA-111 S toward PALM SPRINGS.
Stay straight to go onto N PALM CANYON DR.
Turn RIGHT onto W TAHQUITZ CANYON WAY, go one block.
Turn left into the large northern Desert Museum parking lot (101 N Museum Dr., Palm Springs Ca).
The trailhead is in the back of the parking lot near the hill.
The trail begins at the far northwest corner of the parking lot and switchbacks gradually up the hill behind the museum. At a clearing after a few switchbacks is a few picnic tables. There's a trail junction here, stay on the trail that follows the main ridge. After a little while longer, the trail meets up with the other trail from Ramon Rd. Make a right at this junction and continue along the ridge going up. From here to the tram, the trail is pretty easy to follow and I didn't notice any side trails. The trail drops slightly at a few place near saddles.
This was an OutdoorsClub hike. You can see the original information, writeup, and pictures here. We had a large group of 20+ which split up into many smaller groups along the way.

We started hiking right about 4am. The group split into two groups almost right after we began. I was in the back group which was going way to slow to complete this hike successfully in a day. I got out of that and joined the front group which shortly broke off into many groups or just single people. I joined up with Scott and Rudy for the first few thousand feet of elevation gain. They were too fast, I couldn't hang with them for long. So I slowed down a bit and took it easy up to the tram. The last 2000 feet or so of elevation gain before the tram gets steeper than the lower portion of trail. I got to the tram at 9:35am and hung out there until about 10:35am. After the tram station, the trail gets alot more popular with people hiking around from the tram. Snow was patchy, scattered and about 2 feet deep, not a problem, except it made the trail hard to follow in a few places, but nothing major. Then I headed slowly for the peak and got there at 1pm. At the peak I find Scott and Rudy who got there at about 10:25am, for a total time of just over 6 hours. We didn't find a register can on the peak. We just hung out at the peak until about 4pm, then headed down. Most people started showing up at the peak around 2:30pm or so. The final group got there around 5pm.
Trail Condition
For the most part, the trail to the tram is easy to follow. It is marked here and there with white dots, arrows, pink tape, rock carins. It's a pretty well-worn trail, not just a trace path.
Forest Details
It seems like you're in the desert for a long time. Eventually, some scattered junipers appear. At about 6000ft are the first dead trees, then live trees above that all the way to the top of the peak. I saw some Coulter, Jeffrey, Lodgepole, Limber pines, maybe some Sugar pine, wasn't paying much attention.
Rocks on peak are approximately granodiorite with large crystals of hornblende.
Notes about this hike report
Note about sleeping overnight at the trailhead to get an early start: I wouldn't recommend sleeping at the museum, there was a security guard there when we were there. There are some public parking spots on the road in front of the museum. You might throw down there if you don't mind sleeping in your car. The surrounding areas is pretty much the heart of Palm Springs. Coming in on Hwy 111, I observed a large turnout with some bushes near where the road bends around the mountain, this might be a decent spot to throw down a sleeping bag.
Some folks stayted in motels near the trailhead.
Some, like me, got up at 1am and drove out there that morning.

Water is available at ranger station near the tram. There's a hose on the back porch. You have to fill out a wilderness permit at the ranger station near the tram station. This ranger station also features flush toilets.

The cost is $9 to ride the tram back to the parking lot. You'll need to have another vehicle waiting there to drive back to the museum. Thanks to Verdi for our ride back.
Additional Elevation & Distance Information
The tram station sits at about 8550ft.
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