San Bernadino Mountains: San Jacinto Loop

High altitude peak bagging abounds on this 20-mile loop in the heart of Southern California. Starting from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in Palm Springs, CA, this 3-night backpack offers easy access to multiple 10,000+ ft peaks, alpine meadows, and jaw-dropping views.
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High altitude peak bagging abounds on this 20-mile loop in the heart of Southern California. Starting from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in Palm Springs, CA, this 3-night backpack offers easy access to multiple 10,000+ ft peaks, alpine meadows, and jaw-dropping views.

High altitude peak bagging abounds on this 20-mile loop in the heart of Southern California. Starting from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in Palm Springs, CA, this 3-night backpack offers easy access to multiple 10,000+ ft peaks, alpine meadows, and jaw-dropping views.
Day one starts with a 6,000 vertical foot ride over 2.5 miles of cable on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway which will take you form Palm Springs to Mt. San Jacinto State Park at 8,500 ft. From there you'll make your way through weathered granite and towering pines to the Round Valley meadow and campsite. Day two you'll climb relentlessly with aesthetic payoffs aplenty in the form of constant views (Joshua Tree NP to the East and the Southern California coast to the west). Along the climb bag 10,400 ft Miller Peak. Next stop is Mt. San Jacinto Peak at 10,834 ft. Camp for night two is at Little Round Valley, following a westerly descent from the peak. Make sure you get a spot which affords a view of the Pacific sunset. Day three backtracks to Wellman's divide and then descends via a short section of the Pacific Crest Trail into the Meadows of the Tahquitz Valley and San Bernadino National Forest. Camp Three offers maximum solitude upon a rocky knob just after crossing Willow Creek (water source). Day four completes the loop with a climb along the eastern rim of the ridge passing the breathtaking Hidden Lake (Note: This is an extremely sensitive area. Please take great care to make minimal impact upon this area) and back to the Tram.
Permits: Two wilderness camping permits are required for this trip: Nights one and two require a State Park issued permit and night three requires a National Forest Permit.
In the Mt. San Jacinto State Wilderness (nights one and two) Camping is permitted in designated sites only and only by permit. Camping permits can be obtained in advance (up to 56 days) by mail or in person at the ranger station. Write to: Mount San Jacinto State Park, PO Box 308 Idyllwild, CA 92549. More information can be found at: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=636.
The United States Forest Service has a similar permit system in effect for wilderness areas in national forests (night three); these permits are issued at U.S.F.S. Headquarters, P.O. Box 518, Idyllwild, California 92549. The U.S.F.S. phone number is: (951) 659-2117. Site three is in the "Desert View" zone.
A round trip ticket for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway can be purchased at the tram station. For current information on hours of operation and pricing check: http://www.pstramway.com

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 31.2

Waypoints

JTSJTrip 303

Location: 33.8121452331543, -116.646766662598

JTSJTrip 190

Location: 33.785327911377, -116.653282165527

Camp 3 layout

JTSJTrip 109

Location: 33.8036308288574, -116.663146972656

Round Valley

JTSJTrip 098

Location: 33.8124313354492, -116.644309997559

Mileage

JTSJTrip 116

Location: 33.7995262145996, -116.674293518066

Author at Wellman's Divide

Camp 3

Location: 33.7856712341309, -116.65315246582

Camp 3 (primitive)
18-APR-07 6:22:31PM

Camp 2 - Little Round Valley

Location: 33.8119506835938, -116.688583374023

Little Round Valley Campground
17-APR-07 8:09:53PM

JTSJTrip 164

Location: 33.7893333435059, -116.677680969238

San J Peak Intersect

Location: 33.8120155334473, -116.678932189941

Turn right to bag San Jacinto Peak and CCC hut. Straight ahead to descend to Little Round Valley (Camp 2).
18-APR-07 2:10:41PM

Mt. San Jacinto Peak

Location: 33.8146171569824, -116.679351806641

Mt. San Jacinto Peak 10,840'
17-APR-07 5:50:57PM

JTSJTrip 325

Location: 33.8153610229492, -116.674087524414

JTSJTrip 207

Location: 33.7970733642578, -116.643814086914

Camp 3 View

Camp 1 - Round Valley

Location: 33.8043556213379, -116.665077209473

Round Valley Campground (select a site from board at backcountry hut).
16-APR-07 10:23:26PM

JTSJTrip 302

Location: 33.8151397705078, -116.636528015137

On the Tram

JTSJTrip 179

Location: 33.7774963378906, -116.663749694824

JTSJTrip 145

Location: 33.8149032592773, -116.679565429688

Author on the peak

JTSJTrip 171

Location: 33.7854194641113, -116.674041748047

PCT Marker

JTSJTrip 316

Location: 33.8128128051758, -116.67601776123

Miller Peak

Location: 33.8153953552246, -116.673324584961

Miller Peak 10,400'
17-APR-07 4:04:04PM

JTSJTrip 174

Location: 33.7828674316406, -116.673675537109

JTSJTrip 156

Location: 33.813175201416, -116.683662414551

Looking west towards the Pacific

JTSJTrip 187

Location: 33.7864189147949, -116.653190612793

Repose at Camp 3

Ranger Station

Location: 33.8038330078125, -116.664291381836

Get Backcountry Permit here.
16-APR-07 6:08:58PM

JTSJTrip 104

Location: 33.810474395752, -116.651153564453

Small Author on Big Granite

JTSJTrip 153

Location: 33.8122673034668, -116.688667297363

LRV Dusk

JTSJTrip 213

Location: 33.8007125854492, -116.638710021973

Desert View

JTSJTrip 209

Location: 33.8002586364746, -116.641265869141

Hidden Lake (dry)

JTSJTrip 180

Location: 33.7856903076172, -116.653465270996

Camp 3

JTSJTrip 342

Location: 33.8119926452637, -116.688667297363

LRV Camp (2)

JTSJTrip 167

Location: 33.786693572998, -116.675132751465

Tracks

Camp 3 Peak

Location: 33.7862129211426, -116.653221130371

Drink your coffee and watch the sunrise.
18-APR-07 6:16:44PM

JTSJTrip 318

Location: 33.8139038085938, -116.675651550293

JTSJTrip 322

Location: 33.8155479431152, -116.673141479492

ZW on Miller Peak