Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness covers 14,000 acres (5,665 hectares) west of Palm Springs, including the second-highest mountain in Southern California. It is home to subalpine forest, hiking trails—including a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail—and cross-country skiing tracks that draw visitors throughout the year.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is one of the best ways to experience the park, especially if you’re a first-time visitor. Board the aerial tram at the Valley Station near Palm Springs for the ride up to Mountain Station, where you can access hiking trails and take in views of the park and 10,834-foot (3,250-meter) Mt. San Jacinto.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Mt. San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness is ideal for first-time visitors to the area, especially outdoor enthusiasts.
- Weather can change suddenly in the mountains, so bring warm layers.
- Day-use permits are required to enter the wilderness for hiking; you can get a permit at one of the ranger stations.
- The tramway’s Mountain Station has an accessible elevator and viewpoint, and the Stone Creek Campground in Idyllwild has an accessible trail.
- Dogs are not allowed in the park except for trained service dogs.
How to Get There
To reach Mt. Jacinto State Park from Palm Springs, take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Alternatively, take Highway 243 from Idyllwild.
When to Get There
The park is open daily from morning to late afternoon; get there early if you plan to spend the day doing outdoor activities. Summertime can be scorching in Palm Springs but the park’s altitude keeps daytime temperatures around a cooler 75°F (24°C). November through April, snow falls and average temps hover around 40°F (2°C).
Hiking on Mt. San Jacinto
You can access more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) of hiking trails from the tramway’s Mountain Station. When you get off the tram, walk down a paved path to the Long Valley Ranger Station, where the trails start. One of the most popular wilderness hikes is the 4.5-mile (7.2-kilometer) Round Valley Loop. For something more strenuous, hike 12 miles (19.3 kilometers) up to the peak of San Jacinto.