Palm Springs Tram and Alpine Forest
Palm Springs is a popular destination in the California desert. It offers multiple activities and attractions for people from Southern California to flock to this city on weekends and some tourist from around the world. In the summer time, the oppressive heat can be unbearable. So hot it makes sun bathing impossible with temperatures over 100 degrees in the summer months.
One unique experience who can participate in is riding the Palm Springs Aerial Tram to San Jacinto Mountain. The base of the tram, just minutes away from the city is Valley Station, part of the world’s largest rotating aerial tram. The floor rotates as the tram rises approximately 6,000 feet to the Mountain Station. The tram passes five biomes as it climbs to the top and leaves behind the extreme heat of the valley. The mountain can be 30 degrees cooler than the desert floor.
The Mountain Station is 8500 feet above sea-level and is a great vantage point to see the valley below. It also houses two restaurants, one for fine dining, if you wish to stay a while and hike the trails on the mountain.
The terrain is a surprising contrast to the desert valley as it is home to an alpine forest which provides shady trails for summer time hikes. During my late June visit, it was 110 degrees in the lower valley and 80 degrees on the mountain and an even cooler temperature in the shady trails of about 70 degrees. The trails can be accessed through a descending concrete pathway down to Long Valley where you can find picnic tables, restrooms, ranger station and access to the trails. Most visitors choose to stay within the valley hiking along the Long Valley Discovery Trail which is a 3/4 mile loop. This is an easy level trail that provides an excellent introduction to the Park’s plants and animals. This is where I spent my time, not planning any strenuous hikes as I was here with my family, including 3 year old niece and 11 year old nephew. I definitely want to return and explore this beautiful mountain through one of the longer trails. Permits are required to hike the trails which can be obtained at the ranger station.
A 2.5 mile trail leads to picturesque Round Valley. Fairly level trails, short climbs, moderately strenuous.
From Round Valley to Wellmans Divide is a 1-mile hike with a 600 foot elevation gain. 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.
San Jacinto Peak
This is a 5.5 mile hike one way and 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.
For your comfort, always wear sturdy closed toe shoes, layered comfortable clothing, hat and sunscreen. A light jacket in spring and early summer, and for fall and winter, a heavy jacket and gloves are a good idea, along with appropriate waterproof shoes. Water is only available at the Ranger Station. Bring your own water if you are traveling further. Stay on designated trails only.
The State Park will charge $5 per person for camping permits. There is no fee for day hiking permits at this time.
-Trail description from pstramway.com
click a photo to enlarge and create a slideshow