The San Jacinto Mountain range is one of those magical places that lures hikers back year after year. Hikers enjoy the contrasts this range offers the feeling of hiking in Switzerland while gazing down at the Sahara.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway makes it easy for hikers to enter Mount San Jacinto State Wilderness. Starting in Chino Canyon near Palm Springs, a modern tram with rotating ?oors takes passengers from 2,643-foot Valley Station, the lower Tramway Terminal, to the Mountain Station, the 8,516-foot upper tramway terminal at the edge of the wilderness.
The day hiker accustomed to remote trailheads may ?nd it a bit bizarre to enter Valley Station and ?nd excited tourists shopping for souvenirs. But the tramcar rapidly leaves terra ?rma behind. Too rapidly, you think. It carries you over one of the most abrupt mountain faces in the world, over cliffs only a bighorn sheep can scale, over several life zones from palms to pines. When you disembark at Mountain Station, your ears will pop and you’ll have quite a head start up Mount San Jacinto.
The wild areas in the San Jacinto Mountains are administered by both California State Parks and United States Forest Service rangers. The middle of the region, including San Jacinto Peak, is part of the state park; most of it is managed as a wilderness area. On both sides of the peak, north and south, the wilderness is part of the San Bernardino National Forest. The entire area is within the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.
The meadows and High Sierra-like scenery can be glimpsed on a moderate hike to Round Valley; the ascent through the lodgepole pine forest to the top of Mt. San Jacinto is absolutely splendid, as are the views from the peak.