You shouldn’t leave Palm Springs without experiencing one of our favorite Palm Springs outdoor activities, the San Jacinto Mountains. They’re the most prominent peaks in the area, but they stand out for many more reasons than their height. San Jacinto summit is the steepest mountain in the lower 48 states. In just about five horizontal miles, the peak rises 10,000 feet above sea level. Come ready, come excited and come with a lot of water and snacks! While steep, the summit is highly accessible.
San Jacinto Hike
Infamous for its difficulty, the Cactus to Clouds trail begins near Palm Springs. The 17.5 miles point to point trail is known for having the most elevation gain of any trail in the United States. The trail climbs 8,000 feet to Long Valley before joining the Skyline Trail to the summit. Ice and snow climbing are great along the Snow Creek Route. During your San Jacinto hike, you will find several other trails such as the Devil’s Slide, Marion Mountain and Deer Springs will take you to the summit.
Reaching the Summit
The most popular method of reaching the summit is by the aerial tramway. Watch as the tram glides above Chino Canyon. For two and a half miles, you get panoramic views of Mount San Jacinto State Park and the canyon through the windows of your rotating tram.
At 8,500 feet, you’ll find two restaurants, observation decks, a natural history museum, two documentary theaters, a gift shop and hiking trails. Dining options aren’t your average park food, either. You can choose from a fine dining experience, a cafe with buffet style eating and a cocktail lounge to celebrate in style.
Within the mountain range, there are many more admirable, high peaks. Jean Peak, Miller Peak and Marion Mountain are all over 10,000 feet above sea level.
The range is part of the Peninsular Ranges Province, which begins 900 miles south at the tip of the Baja Peninsula. It is one of the largest geological units in North America.