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Skyline Trail  [previous page]

The Skyline - Palm Springs CA


This is considered to be one of the most extreme “day hikes” in the United States.

You will hike 11 miles and have a 8,000 foot gain in elevation to get to the Tram that can take you down the hill. If you go past the Tram to the top of Mt San Jacinto you will travel 23 miles and have a 10,500 foot gain in elevation!

Other names for this trail are  the cactus to clouds trail, chino trail or outlaw trail.

At elevation 1750 feet, after an elevation gain of 1300 feet, there is a metal sign put up by the police and forest service warning first timers not to attempt this trail by themselves unless accompanied by someone who has done it before and that you are carrying one and a half gallons of water.

Its best to get a predawn start.

Eventually you get to a dry waterfall area. This is near the 6,000 foot mark and is about three quarters of the way up. Here you reach your first Oak Tree and can see the pines above you.

The last 2000 ft. are very steep. Hike up about 1000 ft. to the bottom of a prominent rock castle where you traverse right crossing several gullies at around 7200 ft. elevation. Here you get lots of welcome shade from numerous Pine trees. A sharp rock tooth known as Coffmans Crag now comes clearly into view. Head straight for it.

Finally you gain about 700 ft. more to top out at Long Valley. You will need a permit from the ranger station at 8415 ft. If you are heading for San Jacinto at 10,800 remember that the last tram is at 9.45 P.M. Check on the time before you start.

Hiking times can vary from 4 to 10 hours.

The trail head is in Palm Springs.


To reach this trail, go to the corner of the Desert Museum's north parking lot.

This is known as the Museum Trail, nice day hike, that rises above the city of Palm Springs, and offers spectacular  views of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.   From the parking lot at the Museum, to the top of the trail is a good,  hard,  uphill hike.   When you finally reach the picnic tables at the top you will be ready for a rest. The Museum Trail intersects with the Skyline Trail.

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