Cactus to Clouds, Palm Springs

5.0
#6 of 7 in Trails in Palm Springs
The Cactus to Clouds Trail from Palm Springs, California, to San Jacinto Peak is a hiking trail. With a net elevation gain of 10,300ft, it has the greatest elevation increase of any day-hike route in the United States. It gains it in only 14mi, also making it one of the steeper trails of its length in the world. Also known as the Skyline Trail, it climbs 7,900 feet from the desert to Long Valley where it joins with the main trail to gain another 2,400 feet to the summit. The trail is ten miles to the tram in Long Valley (coined nickname Cactus to Crowds) or twenty miles to San Jacinto Peak and back down to the tram.The trail starts behind the Palm Springs Art Museum. The bottom portion, known as the Museum Trail, continues to a junction with the North Lykken Trail. At its end it joins the Desert View Nature Trail. Hikers may proceed to Long Valley and then continue to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway or San Jacinto Peak. (The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway will be closed for annual maintenance Sept. 11 - Sept. 30, 2017 with a tentative reopening date of Oct. 1, 2017.)With the exception of the final few miles to the summit, no portion of the Skyline Trail is an officially sanctioned trail of any public land agency; however, public access to the area is allowed. It is recognized as a cross-country route by most authorities. It is maintained by local hikers, who have painted directions onto rocks and maintain two emergency water caches.HistoryRay Wilson and Sue Birnbaum, former Coachella Valley Hiking Club hike leaders conceived the idea for the Cactus to Clouds hike in 1991, after marking, with yellow metal tags, the final miles of the faint Skyline Trail as it terminated at Long Valley near the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Mountain Station. The following year, starting on the North Lykken Trail, they hiked the Skyline Trail and the San Jacinto Peak Trail to the summit of San Jacinto Peak, a 10,300-foot gain. They decided to offer the hike through the Coachella Valley Hiking Club and subsequently led the first Cactus to Clouds Challenge in 1993, along with 4 other club members.
To visit Cactus to Clouds on your holiday in Palm Springs, and find out what else Palm Springs has to offer, use our Palm Springs trip planner .
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Cactus to Clouds Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
8 reviews
TripAdvisor
  • We didn't hike this trail in it's entirety but long enough to give us an amazing view of Palm Springs. The elevation is very high and the footing can be challenging at times. I would not recommend thi...  more »
  • This is a relentlessly uphill hike with challenging terrain at times, but quite nice. The trail meets up with other trails after about 1.5 miles offering substantially more hiking. Views are pretty aw...  more »

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