So we set out to summit San Jacinto today for our second peak of the A16’s 3-Peak Challenge. We opted to take the ‘easier’ route from the Palm Springs tram station to the summit. The first tram up was at 8 am and was completely full of hikers ready to hit the various trails.
After the short ride to the upper tram station, we headed down the cement switchbacks to the Ranger Station to get our permits. From there we began the 5 or so miles and just about 3,000 feet of elevation gain toward the summit. It was nice hiking under pines trees and along a running creek, something that is a rarity in San Diego. The trail is very well marked, so no issues with navigation. Just past Round Valley, we started to get a glimpse of the summit.
Ted and I kept pushing higher and higher toward the summit, first toward Wellman’s Divide. After a short break there and some nice views, we set out again. The trail began climbing across the east flank of Jean Peak, pausing briefly at a flat cleft at 10,000 feet before continuing north on the east side of San Jacinto. There are few trees along this section, so remember your sun protection. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were hiking a bit higher than the mountains of San Diego as we made our way up. At the junction with the Marion Mountain trail (my route the first time), we grabbed another quick break in the shade, since there almost none at the summit.
Soon the rescue hut came into view and the final boulder scramble to the summit. Several other 3-Peak challengers soon joined us also. The views were incredible, but sadly the wooden sign was gone. San G loomed to the northwest, our final peak of the A16 3-Peak Challenge.
After a snack and rest, we began working our way back down the mountain. Unfortunately, about a mile down the trail, Ted rolled his ankle. He was able to put weight on it and we carefully continued down. Those hiking poles paid off.
We found ourselves back at the Ranger Station and returned our permit copies. Then came those concrete switchbacks back to the tram station. This might have been the toughest section of the whole hike 😉
We grabbed a bite to eat and then took the tram back down to the desert floor. Thankfully, Ted just sprained his ankle and his wife will still let me have ‘play-dates’ with him 😉 Now, I am taking next weekend off and going to see historic spacecraft and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing in Neil Armstrong’s home town!
I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest.