Palm Springs, CA: San Jacinto Peak Loop

String together two 10,000-foot peaks on this 19.4-mile loop with a mix of trail and off-trail pursuits. Enjoy fine campsites and views of Southern California too.
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String together two 10,000-foot peaks on this 19.4-mile loop with a mix of trail and off-trail pursuits. Enjoy fine campsites and views of Southern California too.

This 19.4-mile loop requires keen navigation skills. Knock it off in a long day or take it slow, like our map contributor, and earmark 3-to-4 days for scenic reststops, lovely campsites, and some “me” time.
Day 1Late start? No worries. From the top of the tram, the first night’s camp is 2.4 miles in at Round Valley Campsite (marked as point WPT004 below).
Day 2Climb nearly 2,000 feet and string together two summits. This 5.1-mile section breaks north at Wellman Divide and climbs 1.2 miles to a short off-trail spur to Miller Peak. (10,400 ft.). Backtrack to main trail, and get ready: the next peak (San Jacinto Peak, 10,880 ft.) is less than a mile away and includes another off-trail pursuit. From the second peak, it’s back to the main trail and onto Little Round Valley Campground.
Day 3This 7-mile stretch travels mostly downhill and links up to the Pacific Crest Trail. Retrace your steps from Day 2, skipping the detours to San Jacinto Peak and Miller Peak. Turn right at Wellman Divide and continue west 1 mile to the Pacific Crest Trail. Veer left onto the PCT, and continue 1.8 miles to Saddle Junction—a large 5-way intersection. Leave the PCT and hike east towards Willow Creek. Turn south just before WPT016 and climb ridgeline for 600-feet to camp three.
Day 4The final 4.2 miles offers impressive views of the Mojave Desert shimmering nearly 6,500-feet below. From camp, rejoin the main trail and turn right, continuing 2.3 miles to WPT019. Turn right and head to Desert View Overlook. Head back to WPT019, turn right, go 1.7 miles back to the tram.
Camp Permits: Book camping permits from Mount San Jactinto State Wilderness for nights 1 and 2 (http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=636). Night 3 requires a Forest Service permit for the Desert View region. (951) 659-2117.
Mapped By Peter Rives

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 31.2

Waypoints

Camp 3 layout

Location: 33.785328, -116.653282

Camp 2

Location: 33.811993, -116.688667

LRV Camp (2)

Camp 2 at dusk

Location: 33.812267, -116.688667

Desert View

Location: 33.800713, -116.63871

Looking out over Palm Springs and the desert

Trail Junction

Location: 33.812431, -116.64431

Trail Junction to Round Valley and San Jacinto Peak

Cable Car Tram

Location: 33.81514, -116.636528

Looking down the tram towards Palm Springs

Lookout

Location: 33.813904, -116.675652

Miller Peak

Location: 33.815548, -116.673141

ZW on Miller Peak

Looking west towards the Pacific

Location: 33.813175, -116.683662

PCT Marker

Location: 33.785419, -116.674042

View

Location: 33.782867, -116.673676

Heading up the trail

Location: 33.812145, -116.646767

Tracks left in the snow

Location: 33.786694, -116.675133

Snow lingering on the trail

Location: 33.812813, -116.676018

Mount San Jacinto Peak

Location: 33.814903, -116.679565

Author on the peak

Camp 3

Location: 33.78569, -116.653465

View from Miller Peak

Location: 33.815361, -116.674088

Round Valley

Location: 33.803631, -116.663147

Camp 3

Location: 33.786419, -116.653191

Trail

Location: 33.789333, -116.677681

Hidden Lake

Location: 33.800259, -116.641266

All dried up

Granite Boulders

Location: 33.810474, -116.651154

Find the hiker...

Trail

Location: 33.777496, -116.66375

View from Camp 3

Location: 33.797073, -116.643814

Perfect for a sunrise view with a cup of coffee in your hand.

Wellmans Divide

Location: 33.799526, -116.674294

Author at Wellmans Divide

WPT001

Location: 33.813332, -116.638527

From Chino Canyon, take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to Mountain Station. Tram climbs 6,000 ft. with fisheye views of Chino Canyon and Joshua Tree National Park. On top, hike west from trailhead and go right at first Y-junction.

WPT002

Location: 33.812511, -116.643883

Veer right at 3-way junction and continue 2.1 miles across weathered granite to Round Valley Campsite.

WPT003

Location: 33.802952, -116.659317

Continue straight. Round Valley Campsite is located in 0.3 miles.

WPT004

Location: 33.803833, -116.664291

Round Valley Campsite: Check the bulletin board for available campsites. Water is available from the spring nearby. If not camping, skip WPT005 and continue west to Wellman Divide.

Insider Tip: If you can reserve the spot we’ve marked, you’ll get great morning light, some badass boulders to play around on, and a flat, well groomed spot for your tent.

WPT005

Location: 33.804356, -116.665077

Round Valley Campsite

WPT006

Location: 33.79921, -116.674309

Wellman Divide: Turn right at 3-way junction and begin a series of steep switchbacks up Miller Peak.

WPT007

Location: 33.808552, -116.675621

Veer left at Y-junction and continue climbing.

WPT008

Location: 33.814919, -116.674751

Off-trail scramble: To summit Miller Peak (10,400 ft.) leave the trail and head northeast for 500 feet, scrambling over a large boulder field. Or, skip this off-trail detour and continue along the trail to WPT010.

WPT009

Location: 33.815395, -116.673325

Miller Peak (10,400 ft.): Northeasterly views stretch out across the Mojave Desert and Round Valley Meadow. San Jacinto Peak (your next destination) sits prominently to the west. Go back to Waypoint 8, and turn right onto the main trail.

WPT010

Location: 33.812016, -116.678932

Turn right at well-marked 3-way junction onto San Jacinto Peak Trail and head 0.3 miles to San Jacinto Peak. The trail ascends and passes a stone CCC cabin en route to the summit. Or, skip this summit detour and hike west towards WPT012.

WPT011

Location: 33.814617, -116.679352

San Jacinto Peak (10,880 ft.): 360—degree views of the mountain's self-named state park, the Mojave Desert, and San Gorgonio Mountain, the tallest point in the San Bernadino Mountains. Retrace steps back to WPT010, and turn right at the T-junction. Continue hiking west to Little Round Valley Campground.

WPT012

Location: 33.811951, -116.688583

Little Round Valley Campground: Camp on the western edge. Plenty of boulders provide solitude and spectacular sunset views. For water, head to the small stream on the southwest side of the valley.
To continue, backtrack to Wellman Divide (WPT006). Turn right at Wellman Divide and continue west.

WPT013

Location: 33.788391, -116.677353

Turn left at Y-junction onto the Pacific Crest Trail.

WPT014

Location: 33.774132, -116.67276

Saddle Junction: Turn left at 5-way junction, leaving the Pacific Crest Trail.

WPT015

Location: 33.776958, -116.665581

Continue straight at 3-way junction.

WPT016

Location: 33.78717, -116.652969

Off-trail campsite: Just before this 3-way junction, turn right off-trail and follow the ridgeline passing two prominent rock pile pinnacles to a primitive campsite. Not camping? Continue to WPT018.

WPT017

Location: 33.785671, -116.653152

Off-trial campsite: Lush pine needles and spectacular views. This camp is dry; treat water before WPT016 at Willow Creek. Next day, backtrack to WPT016, and turn right onto the trail.

WPT018

Location: 33.80024, -116.64296

Turn right at 3-way onto a faint trail (no markers) and head 0.25 miles to Desert View and Hidden Lake. The ecology is extremely fragile, so tread lightly and remain on the trail.

WPT019

Location: 33.800549, -116.63958

Desert View: Look down 6,500 feet to Palm Springs and the Mojave Desert. Nearby is Hidden Lake, an aptly-named lake since sometimes it's bone dry (not a reliable water source). Retrace your steps back to WPT018, and turn right and go to WPT020.

WPT020

Location: 33.802959, -116.643608

Continue straight at 3-way junction. At WPT002, turn right and backtrack 0.4 miles to the tram.