Hiking to the San Jacinto Summit from the Tram

In 2011, a couple of friends and I set out to hike to the San Jacinto Summit from where the tram arrives. Without much research, we went into it thinking this would be a pretty simple hike as the tram drops you off at 8,500 feet and the summit is only 10,500. However, this hike is actually pretty difficult, but it is rewarding to finish and provides stunning views. The hike itself comes out to be around 12 miles round trip, that plus the already high elevation is what makes the hike challenging. Not knowing what we were getting into we set out early in the morning, paid our 25 bucks to ride the tram, and started our journey to the summit, read on for the full review.

tram up to san jacinto

The tram ride is beautiful, and I highly recommended taking it even if you don’t want to hike to the summit. It takes you from the barren desert below to the forest above, complete with trees, meadows and small streams. The sheer contrast is worth the price of admission and where the tram lets off there is a store and a restaurant. If you are heading for the summit though, this is where the trail starts.

may the peace of the wilderness sign

From the first step, this hike is full of beautiful views and lush landscapes. We saw people having a picnic in one of the meadows, trying to boulder some of the rocks and even wading in the streams. This beauty helps to take your mind off the long trail that is ahead of you and gives you a lot of unique places where you can stop and rest before heading on.

small waterfall on san jacinto

After a couple of hours walking we made it out of the forest area and started the summit push, right before the elevation begins to increase on you there is an excellent vista point that has lots of rocks you can relax on, and that help give you an appreciation for what you have accomplished so far. If it is a clear day, you can see many of the neighboring summits from this location as well as the vast expanse of the desert below.

Break on the way to san jacinto summit

After this short stop, the next push is the toughest. The elevation rises a lot and if you have not hiked in elevations over 10,000 feet before it is tough to fully catch your breath. All of this adds to the difficulty but also adds to the accomplishment you feel when you make it to the summit. You pass many switchbacks, before seeing a little ranger station that means you are right below the peak. If you head around to the front side, there are a lot of rocks that you can climb on that make it look like you are suspended out on a ledge. In actuality, it is a drop but not as insane as it seems.

summit of san jacinto

From there you can climb over similar boulders for about 50 feet before reaching the actual summit of the mountain. We took at least 25 minutes to relax and take in the views, and many people were up there doing the same thing. While this hike is only 12 miles, it feels like a huge accomplishment when you see the views that you are presented with.

crew at the san jacinto summit

view from the summit of san jacinto

Just remember when you make it to the summit, you still have a good 6 mile walk to get back. Some people think that the hike is over, but you have to push your body to put in another 6 miles of walking. I wouldn’t recommend doing this hike to the summit if you are not at least somewhat prepared for it. It is possible, but you will have a lot more fun if you put some time in at the gym before heading out to accomplish it. It is amazing to be able to live in Southern California, where one day you can kayak at the beach, the next you can get a hot dog at Pinks and still the next you can climb the summit of San Jacinto.

Sunset over san jacinto

Let me know if you have done this summit or any of the other neighboring ones. I would love to hear about it in the comments.


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About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.