I was excited to finally run the San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway and cross another Southern California Peak off our list. It’s been a while since we’ve done much trail running or hiking because of the snow and being busy (and being gone). Yes, I have many excuses. When I was in Palm Springs in June, I saw San Jacinto, and it sounded like a fun idea to cross that off my list. We had a long weekend over Memorial Day, so we headed down to conquer the San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway.
Quick Stats for San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway:
About San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway:
There are several ways to get to the San Jacinto Peak, but San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway is the easiest. That being said, it’s not easy, and you’ll still find it challenging. It took us about 4 hours, and while we were working hard, we weren’t going maximum effort. We stopped for views, etc.
Anyway, something to keep in mind with San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway is that you have to wait until 10 am on weekdays or 8 am on weekends for the tram to open. Originally we planned to start hiking at 6 am, but realized that the first tram was not until 8 am. We almost decided to do one of the longer and more intense ways up to the San Jacinto Peak, but we figured we would probably get it done at the same time. We arrived at 7:30 am, and we were one of the last people to board the 8 am tram. It was extremely crowded by the time we came down at 1 pm, and most parking spots were taken. So long story, check the tram schedule and the tram is not cheap.
My Experience at the San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway:
We got to the tram around 7:30, paid for tickets, and were one of the last people on the 8 am car. The Palm Springs Tram takes you from about 2000 feet to about 8000. I didn’t know what I expected, and I don’t have a fear of heights, but the rotating tramcar was not my favorite. It swayed back and forth as we were hundreds of feet off the ground and rotated around.
I was glad when the 10-minute tram session was over. From there, we got a permit at the ranger station, and we were off. I wasn’t a massive fan of a tram car dumping everyone off at the same time, but hey, we were there too. Had I known what the tram car ride was, I am not sure I would have selected that route (despite it being the easiest). I don’t know: The worst part of the San Jacinto Peak from the Tramway trail was the tram. (For me, anyway, it seemed like many children on the tramway loved it).
The first two miles of the San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway are fairly easy. You climb about 170 feet, but it’s a mostly smooth trail. You can get some speed and run fairly easily here. Thes second mile claims 420 feet but is also fairly smooth. It never felt like we were “climbing that much.” The signs for the San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway indicated the round trip would be 12 miles, but the signs on the trail were inaccurate, and the round trip was only 10.5 (I started my watch by the ranger station, which made it 10.2).
Miles 3-5 of the San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway were the most challenging. You began feeling the cooler air and the elevation (you essentially go from Palm Springs at near sea level to the San Jacinto Peak at over 10,000 feet elevation).
Around mile 4, you start scrambling and climbing over rocks. This starts the switchbacks and the most grueling part. When we went in late May, there wasn’t much snow on the ground. There were a few parts, but nothing blocking the trail, and you didn’t need microspikes. Just a few weeks prior, there was a lot of snow on the ground. The rock scrambling slowed us down and challenged us, especially as we got into higher elevation. Plus, it was cooler and windier. The switchbacks funneled wind, but you had a view the entire last 2 miles.
The last .3 is extremely challenging, and you are scrambling rocks. It’s not an easy trail at all, but the last .3 tested me a lot. I almost wanted to turn around. We spent a good 15 minutes the last .3 but finally made it to the top. It’s probably the steepest scramble I’ve ever done!
The San Jacinto Peak is gorgeous, but it was extremely windy. At the top, you can see the full Coachella Valley and miles into the distance. It’s one of the better Southern California Peaks we’ve done so far. We only saw a few people at the peak around 10:30, and it was nice to have it to ourselves. It was so windy and not living at that high of elevation that we opted not to stay too long.
From there, we hiked the 5 miles back down the San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway. We saw a ton more people on the way down, and I could tell it got busy. We got lunch at the cafe near the tram. It ended up being the most expensive hike we’ve ever done. Parking costs $12, plus $52 for the tram and $50 for the meal. Would I hike the San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway again? Probably because at least I know what the tram is like. The hike is one of my favorite ones.
Other Socal Peaks We’ve Done:
You can see more hikes here.
Questions for you:
Have you ever hiked San Jacinto Peak from The Tramway?
Have you ever been on the Palm Springs Tram? I need someone to discuss this with.