Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
295.00 ft (89.92 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
1.60 mi (2.57 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Any visitor to Palm Springs has seen San Jacinto Peak towering over the Coachella Valley, the tallest summit in an enormous escarpment that is one of America’s most dramatic. To illustrate the unusual abruptness of this wall of uplifted rock, consider that the elevation of Palm Springs is right around 500 feet, while San Jacinto Peak tops out at 10,834 feet; then consider that less than 10 horizontal miles separate these two elevations. When Palm Springs is roasting at temperatures exceeding 105 degrees, the temperatures in Mount San Jacinto State Park may be reach highs in the 60s. This escarpment is truly impressive, and it is a must-see for anyone visiting the Coachella Valley.

One of the best ways to appreciate this formation is with a quick trip around the Desert View Trail in Mount San Jacinto State Park. Located at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the park has plenty of trails like the Round Valley Loop and paths up to the summit for longer hikes. The Desert View Trail is a shorter walk with only 300 feet of total elevation gain, making it ideal for families and those with less ambitious hiking plans, and this hike exceeds all others in terms of the views it provides of the Coachella Valley far, far below.

It’s easy to find, as well: Once you’ve left the visitor center and descended the paved walkway, the trailhead for the Desert View Trail will be on your left. The trail is a quick 1.5 miles that leads through five viewpoints. Each has a different orientation, so each is worth a quick stop. Best of all, this is a loop, so you’ll end up at the base of the paved path where you can decide to continue hiking on another trail or head up to the visitor center.

Note that, unless you plan on accessing Mount San Jacinto State Park via an extreme climb, the Palm Springs Aerial Tram is in your future. The tram is an adventure in itself, and it is really part of the fun; nevertheless, be prepared for some lines and wait times on crowded days, and be prepared to pay for your ride (though the park is free). Restaurants, a bar, a gift shop, and restrooms are all at the top.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Short loop. Great views. Interesting rock formations.

Cons

Uneven trail. Exposure. Crowds.

Trailhead Elevation

8,350.00 ft (2,545.08 m)

Features

Flushing toilets
Family friendly
Potable water
Geologically significant
Big vistas

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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