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greenBlue Round Valley Loop

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Trail

4.3 mile 6.9 kilometer loop
Singletrack
Easy/Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 788' 240 m
Descent: -792' -241 m
High: 8,987' 2,739 m
Low: 8,369' 2,551 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 24% (13°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Ryan Dunn

Enjoy a scenic hike looping through the valley between Mt. San Jacinto and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

Ryan Dunn

Features Birding · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife · Commonly Backpacked

Permits are required but are available for free at the ranger station near the mountaintop Tram Terminal.

Overview

This easy-to-moderate loop takes visitors through the Round Valley area of Mt. San Jacinto State Park between the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and Mt. San Jacinto itself. The trail passes through pine forest and meadows with ample opportunities to spot wildlife and view the surrounding peaks.

Need to Know

  • Access to this trail comes from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway; tickets cost $25 at the time of writing and the ride up itself is quite the experience and definitely worth it (those with a fear of heights might disagree!). The mountaintop terminal has many amenities including a cafe and gift shops.
  • Permits are required on this hike, but are available for free at the ranger station at the start of the hike.
  • This is a high altitude area. Be aware of the signs of altitude sickness and how to address it.
  • The weather can change dramatically at this altitude. Pack appropriate clothing for any conditions and always carry the Ten Essentials when hiking in the wilderness.
  • The Tram and State Park are open year-round, however, hiking in this area during winter months is recommended only for experienced winter hikers/mountaineers due to possible heavy snow and harsh conditions.

Description

This hike is best accessed from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (which is an experience in itself). From the mountaintop tram terminal, descend the paved switchbacks to the trailhead and the Long Valley Ranger Station. You'll need to acquire a (free) day-use permit here before proceeding further. This is also the last place for reliable water before entering the wilderness area.

From the ranger station, take the Round Valley Trail to the right. The trail follows a seasonal creek while also ascending through some light rocky areas. After approximately 2 miles, hikers will reach the marked junction at Round Valley. Take the High Trail to the left to continue the loop (continuing straight on the Round Valley Trail from this point will take hikers up Mt. San Jacinto).

The High Trail travels back to the east along the southern edge of the valley. The forest opens up a bit on this section to provide great views of Mt. San Jacinto and its neighboring peaks. After approximately 1 mile, hikers will arrive at the marked junction for the Willow Creek Trail. Turn left at this junction and follow the Willow Creek Trail north as it descends back into the valley through meadows and pine trees with a few rocky sections.

After about another mile, the trail will bring you back to the Long Valley Ranger Station. (Don't forget to turn in your return permit!) Head east from the ranger station and back up the concrete switchbacks to the Tram Terminal.

Flora & Fauna

Many different species of pine trees, scrub oak, and ferns can be seen growing in the forest around the trail. Reptiles, birds such as woodpeckers and eagles, and mammals such as deer and bighorn sheep are all commonly seen in the area. A lucky hiker might even spot a bobcat or mountain lion. Black bears are rare but not unheard of in the area.

History & Background

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a local landmark with an interesting history that can be learned about at the mountaintop terminal.

Nearby Mt. San Jacinto is the second tallest peak in Southern California!

Contacts

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Check-Ins

Dec 4, 2018
Theo Geibel
Nov 23, 2018
Sarah Whorley
Hiked from the Tram station to San Jacinto peak. Beautiful day, good trail conditions. 5mi
May 27, 2018
Wayn Hiker
8.2mi
Mar 25, 2018
Luke Sandstrom
4.3mi
Jan 12, 2018
Richard Ormsby
Incredible hike in the snow. Surrounded by snowy mountains on one side and the desert on the other. Watch out for those mountain lions! 4.3mi
Jan 6, 2018
Scotty Rew
Spent the night at Tamarack Valley Campground. Howling wind all night and nearly froze to death.... lol. My kid loved it, especially the tram ride! 5mi
Nov 4, 2017
jess gonzalez
4.2mi
Oct 15, 2017
Ryan Dunn
Saw deer on Willow Creek Trail! 4mi — 3h 00m

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 5 votes

#2535

Overall
  4.0 from 5 votes
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Rankings

#405

in California

#2,535

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1,827 Since Oct 16, 2017
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