Yeah, it is that time of year again, you know, when it is too hot to hike on the valley floor in the Palm Springs area. Well, have no fear, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway can take you to a wonderland of summer hiking. You can purchase a Summer Pass which allows you to ride up the tram as many times as you want from May 1 to August 31 for $75 (prices subject to change), which is well worth the price.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes you out of the summer heat in the desert up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon to a hiking paradise that is about 30 degrees cooler than the valley floor. It is a 10 minute ride from the Valley Station – elevation 2,643 ft. to the Mountain Station – elevation 8,516 ft.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes you up to Mt. San Jacinto State Park which offers about 54 miles of hiking trails located within the 14,000 acre Mt. San Jacinto Wilderness area. All of the trails are accessed by exiting the Mountain Station and descending a concrete pathway less than a mile lont to Long Valley. In Long Valley there are picnic tables, water, a Ranger Station, flush toilets and some easy trails. Or you can tackle some of the other more difficult trails like the Round Valley trail, Wellmans Divide Trail, or you can get real brave and do the San Jacinto Peak Trail.
Trails in the Mt. San Jacinto Wilderness from the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
Long Valley Discovery Trail: Follow the nature trail posts around a 3/4 mile (1.2 km) loop. This easy level trail provides an excellent introduction to the Park's plants and animals.
Desert View Trail: A 1.5 mile (2 km) loop trail that leads to a number of scenic overlooks and forest views. Short climbs, moderately strenuous.
In order to hike the trails below you must check in at the Long Valley Ranger station and get a free wilderness permit.
Round Valley: A hike of about 2.5 miles one way that leads to picturesque Round Valley. Fairly level trails, short climbs, moderately strenuous. You can also hike the Round Valley loop which is a moderately strenuous hike of about 5 miles. As you leave the Long Valley Ranger Station you will see the sign that points you in the direction of most of the hikes, including the loop trail. The loop trail is easiest if you follow the trail to the right when you get to the sign behind the ranger station. The way to the left starts to climb almost immediately and is more difficult. Read more about the Round Valley Hike here ... | Round Valley Hike Photo Gallery | Round Valley Loop Hike Photo Gallery
Wellmans Divide: From Round Valley to Wellmans Divide is a 1-mile hike (2 miles round trip from Round Valley, and 6.77 miles round trip from the tram station) with a 600 feet elevation gain which will bring you up to 9,700 feet. The view from here is truly spectacular. Looking west you can see the dome of the Palomar Observatory and to the southwest Tahquitz Peak Lookout. From this point you can continue down to Idyllwild or up to the Mt. San Jacinto Peak. Elevation gain, strenuous. Read more about the Wellmans Divide hike here ... | Wellmans Divide Hike Photo Gallery
Round Valley Loop: The Round Valley loop is a moderately strenuous hike of about 4 miles. Shortly after you leave the Long Valley Ranger Station you will see the sign that points you in the direction of the loop hike. The hike includes fairly level trails, short climbs, and is moderately strenuous. Read more about the Round Valley Loop hike here ... | Round Valley Loop Hike Photo Gallery
San Jacinto Peak: This is a 5.5 mile hike one way that will take you to the second highest point in southern California. On clear days it is reported that you can see Catalina Island or the glow from Las Vegas at night. Remember, this is an 11 mile round-trip hike from the Long Valley Ranger Station.