So you’re in Southern CA, its winter and you are hankering to get up to the snow and do like some snow stuff other than skiing or snowboarding. I get it we have all been there, and maybe you are not a master outdoorsmen in the snow or maybe just a little rusty yup been there too. While do we have a place for you, its Mt San Jacinto (I probably put it into the title) only a couple hour drive from San Diego and most SoCal spots this mountain offers a lot of opportunity to get back into the winter spirit while keeping you pretty closely tethered to civilization. What today’s article is focusing on is using this mountain to obtain and sharpen some skills before venturing off to bigger and better things across the valley and up the 395.
San Jacinto has been our go to mountain for the last two winters when it comes to getting in a legit day trip where we can break out our winter gear do a little snow shoeing and most importantly getting up over 8,000 feet for a little altitude acclimation. All of this combined with ease of access and a bar while you’re waiting to go down the mountain, makes this an awesome day tripping area or go stay the night in Palm Springs and make a weekend of it. As for getting up the mountain there are a plenty of ways to skin this cat when it comes to getting up here but for the sake making it a day trip we use the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway (http://www.pstramway.com/index.html) for around twenty five dollars you ride a gondola to the over 8000 feet from the desert floor to snow covered forest. Tickets can be purchased at the tram station or 24 hours in advance you can buy them online and save some time. This tram is what makes this a no brainer day trip to the snow plenty of parking no chains or hours off traffic coming down the mountain. At the top is a cafeteria, souvenir shops, restaurant, and as mentioned before a bar (I backpack so I can eat peanut M&Ms and drink beer)! One thing I will tell you to keep in mind is that the tram station is located in a canyon and cell phone service can be almost nonexistent.
Congratulations you made it, now what? Well if you sat in the warm cafeteria and drank a beer there would be no judgment, but hell we came her for SNOW! This terrain is popular for cross country skiing as well as snow shoeing. Snow shoeing is the skill we focus on so I will be talking about that, but the “Things To Do” on the Tramway website goes into all of it under the winter sub section. In the past we have used the summit trail which is around twelve miles from the tram station with around a 2,500 foot elevation gain to the summit which is 10,833 feet, making it a strenuous hike with weather and altitude especially when getting back into the swing of things or doing it for the first time. This area is managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and has a permit system in effect. Day use permits are free and available at the Long Valley ranger Station which is also a great place to check maps and trail conditions please check out their website: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=636 for more information.
Now that we told you how to get there please do your due diligence on weather and proper gear. We have seen people go up there completely unprepared because they are used to lower altitude day hikes without the weather extremes that can take place up there. Personally when I go out on a day hike I pack like I could be there overnight. An emergency overnighter can require different equipment for different environments that being said pack appropriately. After you have scoured the internet and familiarized yourself with the proper gear for a fun day of snowshoeing you are probably sitting there going ok I have what I need but like most SoCal residents it has been a while since you have had to hike through snow drifts to get the mail so you don’t have snow shoes, well we are here to help. For San Diego residents please check out:
- REI San Diego http://www.rei.com/stores/rentals.html
- Adventure 16 https://www.adventure16.com/info/rentals
Snowshoes are also available at the Winter Adventure Center on Mt San Jacinto http://www.pstramway.com/winter-adventure-center.html, but we would recommend showing up with your gear since the rentals are a little bit more money wise and first come first serve.
We hope this blog post helped out and you’re planning your next trip up there as you are reading this. Don’t forget to be properly prepared (this includes Kit Fox stickers). Get up there and have a great time, we can’t wait to hear back from you. If you have any questions before you go pleas drop us a line we are more than happy to help you get the Fox Out There!