Trail update 27th May 2020

We have hiked to San Jacinto Peak every day so far in May, using many different routes, for example in the past week alternating between Seven Pines/Marion Mountain trails and the Devil’s Slide/Peak Trail routes.

Other than the few remaining patchy areas described in detail below, snow has gone from the trail system, and microspikes are no longer required. On warm days, caution is advised on soft snow melting away from rocks and logs, and over running water.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is closed indefinitely (since 12th March) due to the coronavirus crisis. Black Mountain Road remains closed by Forest Service order until 31st May, but it is expected to reopen on 1st June.

Fire lookouts at Tahquitz Peak and Black Mountain should be operational starting 31st May and 3rd June, respectively. When manned the structures will be closed to all visitors due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Despite warm weather at mid elevations, in the first week of June hikers should be prepared for temperatures near freezing at the highest peaks, and below freezing when considering windchill effects.

WEATHER This week will be dominated by hot summer temperatures, 10-20 degrees above seasonal. Thankfully temperatures in the first week of June are forecast to drop closer to seasonal. Regrettably, there is no precipitation in the forecast. The seemingly reliable May storms of recent years failed in 2020.

At San Jacinto Peak (3295m/10,810ft) today, Wednesday 27th May 2020, at 0755 the air temperature was 52.0°F (11°C), with a windchill of 49.9°F (10°C), 39% relative humidity, and a light SE wind sustained at 4 mph gusting to 12.3 mph.

In stark contrast, just eight days ago at the Peak on Tuesday 19th May 2020, at 0815 the air temperature was 17.9°F (-8°C), with a windchill of -1.5°F (-19°C), 51% relative humidity, and a bitter due West wind sustained at 9 mph gusting to 19.8 mph.

The warmest day of the year to date recorded at the Peak remains Thursday 7th May 2020, when at 0810 the air temperature was 53.1°F (12°C), with a “windchill” of 50.5°F (10°C), 17% relative humidity, and a very light due West wind sustained at 2 mph gusting to 5.2 mph.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

Other than a few very limited high country areas detailed below, all trails are clear of snow. Many trails have new treefall hazards from this winter, passable for hikers but not for stock. Some are described in detail below, others include: PCT south of Red Tahquitz (approx. PCT Miles 173-175), PCT between Strawberry Cienega and Deer Springs camp (Miles 182-185), Spitler Peak, Cedar Spring, and Apache Spring trails.

The Peak Trail above Wellman Divide is clear of snow, except for patches for 0.2 mile around 10,000′, and tiny patches very close to San Jacinto Peak. The East Ridge Trail still has 60% drifted snow cover.

Deer Springs Trail is clear of snow to Little Round Valley. There is a new major double treefall hazard next to the Deer Springs crossing. Snow cover through Little Round Valley is 30%. Up to San Jacinto Peak snow cover is <5%. The trail is obvious, with excellent steps, through the handful of tiny snow patches.

Willow Creek Trail is clear of snow, but has 24 new tree hazards (13 on Forest Service land, 11 on State Park) between Saddle Junction and Hidden Divide from this past winter, based on a full survey undertaken 13th May. None are as large or as challenging to get around as in 2019, but some caution is recommended.

Round Valley Trail is clear from Long Valley to Round Valley, but from the latter to Wellman Divide still has about 20% coverage of shallow snow patches. The High Trail has a few tiny snow drifts still across the trail, and one major treefall hazard.

Seven Pines Trail has been very lightly traveled since November 2018. There are 25 treefall hazards on the trail, based on multiple May 2020 surveys. Very cautious navigation is recommended for those unfamiliar with this trail. The Forest Service closure of Dark Canyon Road is anticipated to continue into 2021, so there is currently no vehicular access to Seven Pines trailhead.

The Caramba Trail from near Reeds Meadow through Laws Camp to Caramba, and the Cedar Trail from Willow Creek Trail to Laws, are not maintained. Temporary signage to this effect has been in place since June 2019. Both trails are very indistinct and heavily overgrown with challenging whitethorn in places. Hikers without considerable prior experience of this area should exercise extremely cautious navigation. From Laws east to Caramba the route of the original trail is relatively easy to follow (for those who were familiar with this trail prior to the 2013 Mountain Fire). An informal use trail to Laws has been developed which is much more direct and avoids all of the challenging bush-whacking of the unmaintained trails (some local hikers have kindly named it the “King Trail”). It leaves the Willow Creek Trail exactly 1.0 mile from Saddle Junction (0.46 mile from the Skunk Cabbage turning), descending largely on established deer trails for 1.2 miles, roughly paralleling Willow Creek just to its south. Currently it is quite obvious for about a mile, becoming less distinct as it nears Laws (by which time Willow Creek is close by on your left hand side, so navigation is not a challenge).

The Pacific Crest Trail remains open at the rockslide just north of Antsell Rock (Mile 172.5). USFS has not indicated when this area may close for removal of the rockslide. The video report (available here) can be useful for deciding whether to hike around the rockslide or take an alternate route.

WATER All major creeks and springs are currently flowing well, as are some ephemeral sources. Consequently their status is not being updated in detail at this time. Flow rates have dropped dramatically in May, some two months earlier than last year, and a dry late summer and autumn seem likely.

Looking south from San Jacinto Peak toward Jean Peak and Marion Mountain, 27th May 2020 (above), and for comparison on 27th May 2019 (below).

San Jacinto Trail Report: available for everyone, funded by readers.While all labor and time is volunteered, this Report completely depends on small private donations to cover its direct costs. With a very challenging first few months of 2020, every contribution is invaluable. If you have found this Report useful, please consider visiting the Donate page. Thank you.

Trail update 20th May 2020

We have continued to hike to San Jacinto Peak every day so far in May, using many different routes, today for example ascending via Devil’s Slide Trail and descending via Tahquitz Peak and South Ridge Trail.

Other than the few remaining patchy areas described in detail below, the snow has almost completely gone from the trail system. Consequently snow depths are no longer reported. Pleasantly cool weather so far this week has resulted in firm icy snow in the mornings, with easy hiking conditions where areas of snow remain. On warmer afternoons and days, caution is advised on soft snow melting away from rocks and logs, and over running water. Potentially ankle-breaking posthole conditions remain in such areas. Where snow remains in the high country, reliable tracks are now in place for all major routes on the mountain.

Hikers uncomfortable on limited patches of icy snow may find that microspikes remain useful in some areas on colder early mornings and/or for descending. Otherwise microspikes are no longer required on the trail system.

The trails have felt rather “wild west” in recent weeks, with huge numbers of hikers, especially at weekends, many clearly not familiar with wilderness regulations. I have several examples, but early this morning I extinguished an active campfire right next to the trail about 0.5 mile south of Annie’s Junction. It was a good learning opportunity for the camper, who was genuinely ignorant of the Forest camping and fire regulations. Thankfully the breeze today was much lighter than yesterday. Although California is clearly still in the depths of the coronavirus crisis, we urgently need the agencies to restore the permit and enforcement systems, such as they are. Otherwise I fear the next indirect consequence of Covid-19 could be a forest fire up here.

Despite mild weather at lower elevations, for the next several days hikers should be prepared for temperatures at or near freezing in the high country, and below freezing when considering windchill effects (for example see weather data below for Tuesday 19th May!).

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is closed indefinitely (since 12th March) due to the coronavirus crisis. Black Mountain Road remains closed by Forest Service order until 31st May. It is expected to reopen on 1st June.

Fire lookouts at Tahquitz Peak and Black Mountain will be operational starting 31st May and 1st June, respectively. The structures will be closed to visitors due to Covid-19 restrictions.

WEATHER For the next few days temperatures are forecast to be close to seasonal. Starting on Monday 25th, the last week of May sees a return to very hot summer temperatures. Regrettably, there is no precipitation in the forecast. The seemingly reliable May storms of recent years have failed us in 2020.

At San Jacinto Peak (3295m/10,810ft) today, Wednesday 20th May 2020, at 0830 the air temperature was 31.4°F (0°C), with a windchill of 23.4°F (-5°C), 22% relative humidity, and a cool due West wind sustained at 3 mph gusting to 8.4 mph.

At the Peak on Tuesday 19th May 2020, at 0815 the air temperature was 17.9°F (-8°C), with a windchill of -1.5°F (-19°C), 51% relative humidity, and a bitter due West wind sustained at 9 mph gusting to 19.8 mph.

The warmest day of the year to date recorded at the Peak remains Thursday 7th May 2020, when at 0810 the air temperature was 53.1°F (12°C), with a “windchill” of 50.5°F (10°C), 17% relative humidity, and a very light due West wind sustained at 2 mph gusting to 5.2 mph.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

All trails below about 9000′ are clear of snow, while higher trails have only very short sections with limited (<30%) snow-cover (see details below).

The following trails are completely clear of snow: Ernie Maxwell, Devil’s Slide, Willow Creek, South Ridge, Marion Mountain, and Seven Pines. The Desert Divide south of Red Tahquitz (approx. PCT Mile 175), including side trails such as Spitler Peak, Cedar Spring, Apache Spring, Zen Centre, and Live Oak Spring trails, is all clear of snow. All of the latter have new treefall hazards from this winter, passable for hikers but not stock.

The Peak Trail above Wellman Divide is clear of snow, except for patches for 0.2 mile around 10,000′, and tiny patches very close to San Jacinto Peak. The East Ridge Trail still has 70% drifted snow cover. The Wellman Trail is largely clear, except for <10% cover in the first 0.4 mile north from Annie’s Junction (the State Park boundary).

Deer Springs Trail [updated 23rd May] is virtually clear of snow to Little Round Valley. There is a new major double treefall hazard next to the Deer Springs crossing. Snow cover is <10% on the 0.4 mile from 9500′ to the crossing of the North Fork of the San Jacinto River, and it is then clear again for the final 0.2 mile ascent to Little Round Valley. Snow cover through Little Round Valley is 30%. Up to San Jacinto Peak snow cover is <10%. The trail is now obvious, with excellent steps, through the snow patches.

Willow Creek Trail is completely clear of snow, but has 24 new tree hazards (13 on Forest Service land, 11 on State Park) between Saddle Junction and Hidden Divide from this past winter, based on a full survey undertaken 13th May. None are as large or as challenging to get around as in 2019, but some caution is recommended.

Fuller Ridge Trail (PCT Miles 185.5-190.5) is clear of snow, although a few minor patches remain, especially near the north end.

Round Valley Trail is largely clear from Long Valley to Round Valley, but from there to Wellman Divide still has about 30% coverage of shallow snow patches. Trail finding is a little tricky on that 1.0 mile section. The High Trail has a few minor snow drifts still across the trail, and one major treefall hazard.

Tahquitz Peak trail from Chinquapin Flat/PCT Mile 178 is virtually clear of snow. It is easy to hike around the edges of the two tiny patches that remain. Microspikes are no longer required.

Seven Pines Trail [updated 23rd May] has been very lightly traveled since November 2018. There are at least 25 treefall hazards on the trail, based on multiple May 2020 surveys. Very cautious navigation is recommended for those who are unfamiliar with hiking this trail. The Forest Service closure of Dark Canyon Road is expected to continue until 2021, consequently there is currently no vehicular access to Seven Pines trailhead.

The Caramba Trail from near Reeds Meadow through Laws Camp to Caramba, and the Cedar Trail from Willow Creek Trail to Laws, are not maintained. Temporary signage to this effect has been in place since June 2019. Both trails are very indistinct and heavily overgrown with challenging whitethorn in places. Hikers without considerable prior experience of this area should exercise extremely cautious navigation. From Laws east to Caramba the route of the original trail is relatively easy to follow (for those who were familiar with this trail prior to the 2013 Mountain Fire). An informal use trail to Laws has been developed which is much more direct and avoids all of the challenging bush-whacking of the unmaintained trails (some local hikers have kindly named it the “King Trail”). It leaves the Willow Creek Trail exactly 1.0 mile from Saddle Junction (0.46 mile from the Skunk Cabbage turning), descending largely on established deer trails for 1.2 miles, roughly paralleling Willow Creek just to its south. Currently it is quite obvious for about a mile, becoming less distinct as it nears Laws (by which time Willow Creek is close by on your left hand side, so navigation is not a challenge).

WATER All major creeks and springs are currently flowing well, as are some ephemeral sources. Consequently their status is not being updated in detail at this time.

PACIFIC CREST TRAIL

The Pacific Crest Trail remains open at the rockslide just north of Antsell Rock (Mile 172.5). USFS has told the Trail Report that there are currently no plans to close this section of the PCT during spring 2020. The video report (available here) can be useful for deciding whether to try to hike around the rockslide or take an alternate route. All hikers this spring are reporting having no significant difficulty here.

PCT hikers are reminded that overnight stays are not permitted at or near San Jacinto Peak, including in the historic shelter. Mt. San Jacinto State Park regulations permit overnight stays only in established campgrounds (Little Round Valley and Strawberry Junction are good options for thru-hikers).

Wellman Divide (9700′) today 20th May 2020 (above), and almost exactly one year ago on 23rd May 2019 (below).
Little Round Valley (9800′) on 18th May 2020 (above), and for comparison about four weeks earlier on 21st April 2020 (below).

San Jacinto Trail Report: available for everyone, funded by readers.While all labor and time is volunteered, this Report completely depends on small private donations to cover its direct costs. With a very challenging first few months of 2020, every contribution is invaluable. If you have found this Report useful, please consider visiting the Donate page. Thank you.

Trail update 13th May 2020

We have hiked to San Jacinto Peak every day so far in May, using several different routes, including an east-west loop ascending the Peak Trail and descending Deer Springs Trail on Monday, via Marion Mountain Trail yesterday, and a circuitous route via Willow Creek and Round Valley trails today.

Very warm weather last week caused extensive snowmelt at all elevations, with all trails partly or completely clearing. Pleasantly cool weather so far this week has resulted in firm icy snow in the mornings, with easy hiking conditions where areas of snow remain. On sunny afternoons, snow can still be soft, and caution is advised on soft snow melting away from rocks and logs, and over running water. Potentially ankle-breaking posthole conditions remain widespread in such areas.

Where snow remains in the high country, useable tracks through the snow are now in place for all major routes on the mountain. Measured snow depths, with comparison to the recent maximum depth, are listed at the foot of this posting.

Microspikes remain useful in some areas (discussed below) on colder early mornings, and for descending. Many hikers with suitable footwear (and hiking poles if preferred) may not need additional traction, depending on your willingness to potentially posthole in softening snow later in the day.

Despite mild weather at lower elevations, hikers should be prepared for temperatures near freezing in the high country, and below freezing when considering windchill effects.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is closed indefinitely (since 12th March) due to the coronavirus crisis. Black Mountain Road is closed by Forest Service order until 31st May.

The creek in Little Round Valley, early morning on 12th May 2020.

WEATHER Temperatures are forecast to largely remain pleasantly cool – at or slightly above seasonal – into next week. There is no significant precipitation forecast for the foreseeable future, although there is the possibility of light drizzle at mid elevations on the afternoon of Monday 18th May.

At San Jacinto Peak (3295m/10,810ft) today, Wednesday 13th May 2020, at 1020 the air temperature was 37.7°F (4°C), with a windchill of 31.8°F (0°C), 49% relative humidity, and a cool due West wind sustained at 5 mph gusting to 11.4 mph.

At the Peak on Tuesday 12th May 2020, at 0810 the air temperature was 31.0°F (-1°C), with a windchill of 15.1°F (-9°C), 76% relative humidity, and a biting due West wind sustained at 18 mph gusting to 31.8 mph.

The warmest day of the year to date recorded at the Peak was on Thursday 7th May 2020, when at 0810 the air temperature was 53.1°F (12°C), with a “windchill” of 50.5°F (10°C), 17% relative humidity, and a very light due West wind sustained at 2 mph gusting to 5.2 mph.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

All trails below about 9000′ are clear of snow, while higher trails have less than 50% snow-cover (see details below).

The following trails are now completely clear of snow: Ernie Maxwell, Devil’s Slide, Willow Creek, South Ridge, Marion Mountain, and Seven Pines. The Desert Divide south of Red Tahquitz (approx. PCT Mile 175), including side trails such as Spitler Peak, Cedar Spring, Apache Spring, Zen Centre, and Live Oak Spring trails, is all clear of snow. All of the latter have new treefall hazards from this winter, passable for hikers but not stock.

The Peak Trail above Wellman Divide is clear of snow, except for largely continuous drifted snow up to 1-2 feet deep for 0.2 mile around 10,000′, and in patches for 0.2 mile above 10,500′. The East Ridge Trail still has 90% drifted snow cover. The Wellman Trail is largely clear, except for 30% cover in the first 0.4 mile north from Annie’s Junction (at the State Park boundary).

Deer Springs Trail is clear of snow to 9500′, except for a handful of tiny patches between the Seven Pines Trail and Fuller Ridge Trail junctions. There is a new major double treefall hazard right by the Deer Springs crossing. Snow cover is about 40% on the 0.4 mile from 9500′ to the crossing of the North Fork of the San Jacinto River, and it is then >95% clear for the final 0.2 mile ascent to Little Round Valley. Snow cover through Little Round Valley is 50%, and the tracks are somewhat meandering. Up to San Jacinto Peak snow cover is 30%. Although the trail above Little Round Valley is clearing rapidly, snow drifts make it hard to follow, while conversely melting makes it hard to follow the tracks through the snow. Microspikes are useful, especially for descending. San Jacinto Peak has barely 20% snow cover.

Willow Creek Trail is completely clear of snow, but has 24 new tree hazards between Saddle Junction and Hidden Divide from this past winter, based on a full survey undertaken 13th May. None are as large or as challenging to get around as in 2019, but some caution is recommended. The agencies have been notified.

Fuller Ridge Trail (PCT Miles 185.5-190.5) is largely clear of snow, although as usual extensive patches remain especially at the north end (Miles 188.6-190).

Round Valley Trail is largely clear to Round Valley, but from there to Wellman Divide still has about 60% coverage of shallow snow patches. Trail finding is currently tricky on that 1.0 mile section. The High Trail has about a dozen minor snow drifts still across the trail, and one major treefall hazard.

Tahquitz Peak trail from Chinquapin Flat/PCT Mile 178 [updated 16th May] is virtually clear of snow and has good steps to follow through the tiny patches that remain. Microspikes are no longer required.

Seven Pines Trail has a few very minor snow drifts near its junction with the PCT. This trail has only been hiked a handful of times since November 2018. Extremely cautious navigation is recommended for those who are not very familiar with hiking this trail. The Forest Service closure of Dark Canyon Road continues, and there is no vehicular access to Seven Pines trailhead.

WATER All major creeks and springs are currently flowing well, as are many ephemeral seasonal sources. Consequently I am not updating the water situation in detail at this time.

Willow Creek, where it crosses the trail of the same name, flowing strongly with snowmelt, 13th May 2020.

PACIFIC CREST TRAIL

The Pacific Crest Trail remains open at the rockslide just north of Antsell Rock (Mile 172.5). USFS has told the Trail Report that there are currently no plans to close this section of the PCT during spring 2020. The video report (available here) can be useful for deciding whether to try to hike around the rockslide or take an alternate route. All hikers this spring are reporting having no significant difficulty here.

PCT hikers are reminded that overnight stays are not permitted at or near San Jacinto Peak, including in the historic shelter. Mt. San Jacinto State Park regulations permit overnight stays only in established campgrounds (additionally, due to the Covid-19 crisis, no camping is currently allowed anywhere in the State Park).

SNOW DEPTHS measured 11th-12th May 2020 (with depth on 10th-12th April 2020 in parentheses for comparison where known). Note that average depth is given, drifts can be much deeper in places. Altitudes are approximate.

San Jacinto Peak (10810′): 5″ (was 40″ on 12th April)

Little Round Valley (9800′): 10″ (was 35″ on 12th April)

Wellman Divide (9700′): 0″ (was 32″ on 12th April)

Annie’s Junction (9070′): <1″ (was 35″ on 12th April)

Seven Pines Trail junction with Deer Springs Trail (8700′): 0″ (was 31″ on 11th April)

Long Valley (8600′): 0″ (was 16″ on 11th April)

Strawberry Junction (8100′): 0″ (was 25″ on 11th April)

Saddle Junction (8070′): 0″ (was 26″ on 11th April)

Devil’s Slide trailhead at Humber Park (6550′): 0″ (was 14″ on 11th April)

Little Round Valley (9800′) on 12th May 2020 (above) and the same view three weeks earlier on 21st April 2020 (below).

San Jacinto Trail Report: available for everyone, funded by readers.While all labor and time is volunteered, this Report completely depends on small private donations to cover its direct costs. With a very challenging first few months of 2020, every contribution is invaluable. If you have found this Report useful, please consider visiting the Donate page. Thank you.

Trail update 5th May 2020

We have hiked to San Jacinto Peak every day so far in May, via several different routes, including loops ascending the Peak Trail and descending Deer Springs Trail today and on Saturday.

A couple of cooler days last weekend produced excellent firm icy snow in the early morning, and fast ascent conditions. By today, warmer temperatures kept the snow soft overnight, and the snow was quite unpleasant underfoot especially descending the western side from Little Round Valley to the top of Marion Mountain Trail. Over the next week or so, considerable caution is advised on soft snow melting away from rocks and logs, and over running water. Potentially ankle-breaking posthole conditions are currently widespread in such areas.

Summer-like temperatures on most days since about 25th April have radically changed hiking conditions. Most snow has gone below 9000′, with trails also clearing rapidly up to 10,000′, and in patches all the way to the highest peaks. Where snow remains in the high country, useable tracks through the snow are now in place for almost all major routes on the mountain.

Further temperatures more typical of July over the next few days mean that snowmelt will continue very rapidly, with most trails even at the highest elevations likely to be largely clear in the next ten days. Measured snow depths, with comparison to the recent maximum depth, are listed at the foot of this posting.

Microspikes can still be useful in some areas (discussed below) for hikers who are less comfortable on snow and ice, and in particular for descending. Many hikers with suitable footwear (and hiking poles if preferred) will not need additional traction, depending on your willingness to posthole in soft snow after early morning.

Due to apparent contradictions among, and inconsistent enforcement of, the various county, state, and federal rules and regulations during the coronavirus crisis, I recommend contacting relevant agencies directly for their latest information. According to their website, Mount San Jacinto State Park remains open only for local residents able to walk or bike to trailheads. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is closed indefinitely (since 12th March).

WEATHER Temperatures overall remain unseasonably warm, over the next few days about 10-20°F above average for early May, according to the latest information from NWS San Diego. Very rapid snowmelt will continue at all elevations. Temperatures are forecast to drop to seasonal next week. There is no precipitation forecast for the foreseeable future.

At San Jacinto Peak (10,810ft/3295m) today, Tuesday 5th May 2020, at 0900 the air temperature was 49.2°F (10°C), with a windchill of 45.5°F (8°C), 21% relative humidity, and a light SW wind sustained at 3 mph gusting to 7.1 mph.

At the Peak on Monday 4th May 2020, at 0555 the air temperature was 44.3°F (7°C), with a windchill of 37.4°F (3°C), 8% relative humidity, and a steady due West wind sustained at 8 mph gusting to 11.8 mph.

The most recent cool day at the Peak was on Saturday 2nd May 2020, when at 0830 the air temperature was 34.3°F (1°C), with a windchill of 23.4°F (-5°C), 49% relative humidity, and a chilly due West wind sustained at 8 mph gusting to 13.9 mph.

Snow Plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) emerging at about 6800′ elevation near Deer Springs Trail on 30th April 2020. The name comes from the plant often pushing through the remaining snow cover in spring. In recent years, climate change has resulted in the snow invariably being gone before the plants emerge.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

All trails above about 8900′ remain partly snow-covered, with depth depending on elevation (see below). Exposed slopes much higher – e.g. Wellman’s Cienega to Wellman Divide – are now clear. Some short sections of trails above about 8000′ may have remnant icy snow patches, depending on exposure.

The Desert Divide south of Red Tahquitz (approx. PCT Mile 175), including side trails such as Spitler Peak, Cedar Spring, Apache Spring, Zen Centre, and Live Oak Spring trails, is all clear of snow. All have new treefall hazards from this winter, passable for hikers but not stock.

The Peak Trail above Wellman Divide has about 30% snow cover, except for continuous cover of drifted snow about 1-2 feet deep around 10,000′ and again above 10,500′. The East Ridge Trail still has continuous drifted snow cover, also 1-2 feet deep. The Wellman Trail is largely clear, except for 90% cover in the first 0.4 mile north from Annie’s Junction.

Deer Springs Trail is clear of snow to Strawberry Junction, and north on the PCT almost to the Marion Mountain Trail junction (Mile 185) at about 8700′. Snow cover is about 50% from there to 9400′, where it increases to 80%. Snow cover through Little Round Valley to San Jacinto Peak is 90%, but melting has been dramatic even in the last four (coolish) days. Tracks through the snow do not follow the trail route to San Jacinto Peak, but are adequate. Microspikes are useful for descending.

Marion Mountain Trail is basically clear of snow to the PCT/Deer Springs Trail, with just a few small patches remaining above 8500′.

South Ridge Trail is clear to Tahquitz Peak, other than a few tiny snow patches above 8600′. Microspikes are no longer required.

Fuller Ridge Trail (PCT Miles 185.5-190.5) is rapidly clearing of snow, although as usual extensive patches remain especially near the south (185.5-186.5) and north (188..6-190) ends.

Round Valley Trail is largely clear, but through to Wellman Divide still has extensive shallow snow patches above Round Valley.

Devil’s Slide Trail is clear of snow to Saddle Junction. In four locations there are new significant treefall hazards.

Tahquitz Peak trail from Chinquapin Flat/PCT Mile 178 is clearing rapidly and now has reasonable steps to follow through the angled icy snow. Microspikes are recommended especially for descending and in the morning when the snow is icy.

Seven Pines Trail has only been hiked a handful of times since November 2018. Extremely cautious navigation is recommended for those who are not very familiar with hiking this trail. The Forest Service closure of Dark Canyon Road continues, and there is no vehicular access to Seven Pines trailhead.

PACIFIC CREST TRAIL

Current snow cover on the PCT is increasingly patchy between Miles 175-179 (to near Saddle Junction). The Trail is very rapidly clearing to about Mile 184 (one mile north of Strawberry Junction) except for a stubborn section of 0.5 mile approaching Annie’s Junction (Mile 180.8) which is always among the last areas to clear every spring. Most of Miles 184-190 has patchy snow cover, although exposed sections of Fuller Ridge (e.g., Miles 186.5-188.5) are clearing rapidly.

Microspikes may still be useful on some of the PCT for increasingly patchy snow travel between approximately Miles 174 and 190, depending upon your comfort level in variable snow/ice conditions. Hikers willing to posthole and using poles may find spikes unnecessary in most areas however. See above for conditions on some specific sections of the PCT and the many side trails.

The Pacific Crest Trail remains open at the rockslide just north of Antsell Rock (Mile 172.5). USFS has told the Trail Report that there are currently no plans to close this section of the PCT during spring 2020. The video report (available here) can be useful for deciding whether to try to hike around the rockslide or take an alternate route. All hikers this spring are reporting having no significant difficulty here.

PCT hikers are reminded that overnight stays are not permitted at or near San Jacinto Peak, including in the historic shelter. Mt. San Jacinto State Park regulations permit overnight stays only in established campgrounds (additionally, due to the Covid-19 crisis, no camping is currently allowed anywhere in the State Park).

SNOW DEPTHS measured 5th May 2020 (with depth on 10th-12th April 2020 in parentheses for comparison where known). Note that average depth is given, drifts can be much deeper in places. Altitudes are approximate.

San Jacinto Peak (10810′): 9″ (was 40″ on 12th April)

Little Round Valley (9800′): 16″ (was 35″ on 12th April)

Wellman Divide (9700′): <2″ (was 32″ on 12th April)

Annie’s Junction (9070′): 6″ (was 35″ on 12th April)

Seven Pines Trail junction with Deer Springs Trail (8700′): 5″ (was 31″ on 11th April)

Long Valley (8600′): 0″ (was 16″ on 11th April)

Strawberry Junction (8100′): 0″ (was 25″ on 11th April)

Saddle Junction (8070′): 0″ (was 26″ on 11th April)

Devil’s Slide trailhead at Humber Park (6550′): 0″ (was 14″ on 11th April)

Annie’s Junction (9070′), approx. PCT Mile 180.8, today 5th May 2020 (above), and on 21st April 2020 for comparison (below).

San Jacinto Trail Report: available for everyone, funded by readers.While all labor and time is volunteered, this Report completely depends on small private donations to cover its direct costs. With a very challenging first few months of 2020, every contribution is invaluable. If you have found this Report useful, please consider visiting the Donate page. Thank you.

Trail update 27th April 2020

[UPDATE 1st May 2020: hikes today and on 29th April to San Jacinto Peak have confirmed very rapid snowmelt at all elevations, especially below 10,000′. Snow conditions were dreadful on 29th, with deep postholing in places above 9000′, but were much better this morning despite similar temperatures both days. Microspikes remain useful in places, but not essential, above 9000′.]

This morning we hiked to San Jacinto Peak via Devil’s Slide Trail and the Peak Trail route, having been up Deer Springs Trail the previous day. On 25th I checked the Tahquitz Peak area trails, and Apache Peak and the Desert Divide on 23rd.

Current conditions underfoot were discussed in a short video recorded this morning at San Jacinto Peak. Summer-like temperatures in recent days have radically changed hiking conditions. Snow melt has been considerable below 9000′, with trails clearing rapidly, but somewhat less so in the high country. Useable tracks through the snow are now in place for most major routes on the mountain. Cautious navigation is still recommended as many tracks do not accurately follow the trail routes.

Snow conditions will continue to change rapidly over the next week or so, depending on a complex combination of elevation, time of day, slope exposure, temperature, and cloud cover. In summary, little or no snow will be left below 9000′ soon, and most snow will be gone even from the high country by early May. Measured snow depths, with comparison to the recent maximum depth, are listed at the foot of this posting.

Inevitably, gear recommendations change almost as quickly as the snow conditions. Microspikes can be useful in some areas (see below) for hikers who are less comfortable on snow and ice, and in particular for descending compacted trails. Hikers with suitable footwear and hiking poles may not need additional traction, depending on your willingness to posthole in soft snow, and on temperature/time of day as mentioned above. Snowshoes remain marginally useful for another few days in areas off-trail above about 10,000′ elevation.

Due to some apparent contradictions among, and inconsistent enforcement of, the various county, state, and federal rules and regulations during the coronavirus crisis, I recommend contacting relevant agencies directly for their latest information. According to their website, Mount San Jacinto State Park remains open only for local residents able to walk or cycle to trailheads. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway remains closed indefinitely (since 12th March).

Skunk Cabbage Meadow flooded with snowmelt, 24th April 2020.

WEATHER The last few days of April will continue to be more reminiscent of late June. Temperatures moderate slightly in early May, but overall remain unseasonably warm. Rapid snowmelt will continue at all elevations.

At San Jacinto Peak (10,810ft/3295m) today, Monday 27th April 2020, at 0850 the air temperature was 46.0°F (8°C), with a windchill of 37.5°F (3°C), 21% relative humidity, and a steady WNW wind sustained at 12 mph gusting to 17.5 mph.

At the Peak on Tuesday 21st April 2020, at 0755 the air temperature was 21.8°F (-6°C), with a windchill of 4.4°F (-15°C), 68% relative humidity, and a bitter NNE wind sustained at 12 mph gusting to 17.8 mph.

PACIFIC CREST TRAIL

The icy slope on the NE side of Apache Peak (PCT Mile 169.5) that had multiple incidents in late March is now clear of snow.

The Pacific Crest Trail remains open at the rockslide just north of Antsell Rock (Mile 172.5). USFS has told the Trail Report that there are currently no plans to close this section of the PCT during spring 2020. The video report (available here) can be useful for deciding whether to try to hike around the rockslide or take an alternate route. All hikers this spring are reporting having no significant difficulty here.

Microspikes may still be useful on some of the PCT for increasingly patchy snow travel between approximately Miles 174 and 190, depending upon your comfort level in variable snow/ice conditions. Hikers willing to posthole and using poles may find spikes unnecessary in most areas however. See below for conditions on some specific sections of the PCT and the many side trails.

Current snow cover on the PCT is extensive but increasingly patchy between Miles 175-179 (to near Saddle Junction). The Trail is very rapidly clearing to about Mile 184 (one mile north of Strawberry Junction) except for a stubborn section of 0.5 mile approaching Annie’s Junction (Mile 180.8) which is always among the last areas to clear every spring. Most of Miles 184-190 is snow-covered, although exposed sections of Fuller Ridge (e.g., Miles 186.5-188.5) are clearing rapidly.

PCT hikers are reminded that overnight stays are not permitted at or near San Jacinto Peak, including in the historic shelter. Mt. San Jacinto State Park regulations permit overnight stays only in established campgrounds (additionally, due to the Covid-19 crisis, no camping is currently allowed anywhere in the State Park).

TRAIL CONDITIONS

All trails above about 9000′ remain largely snow-covered, with depth depending on elevation (see below) but exposed slopes much higher (e.g. Wellman’s Cienega to Wellman Divide) are clearing rapidly. Some short sections of trails above about 7900′ may have remnant icy snow patches, depending on exposure.

The Desert Divide south of Red Tahquitz, including side trails such as Spitler Peak, Cedar Spring, Apache Spring, Zen Centre, and Live Oak Spring trails, are all clear of snow. All have new treefall hazards from this winter, passable for hikers but not stock.

Deer Springs Trail is clear of snow to Strawberry Junction, and north on the PCT to about 8600′. Snow is largely continuous from about Mile 184 (just south of Marion Mountain Trail junction). Tracks through the snow do not accurately follow the trail route to San Jacinto Peak, but are adequate. Microspikes are useful for descending.

South Ridge Trail is clear to Tahquitz Peak, other than a few tiny snow patches above 8600′. Microspikes are no longer required.

Fuller Ridge Trail (PCT Miles 185.5-190.5). There are tracks to follow through the snow, although these do not currently match the route of the trail in some places.

Round Valley Trail through to Wellman Divide has not been visibly traveled since the Tram closure in mid March.

Devil’s Slide Trail is virtually clear of snow to Saddle Junction, with just a few minor icy patches above 8000′. Microspikes are no longer required. In four locations there are new significant treefall hazards. Several more minor obstructions have been removed.

Ernie Maxwell Trail is clear of snow.

Tahquitz Peak trail from Chinquapin Flat/PCT Mile 178 has no steps to follow through the angled icy snow. These ice slopes are notoriously treacherous. Currently crampons are strongly recommended, in conjunction with an ice axe (if you know how to use both).

Seven Pines Trail has had no hiker traffic so far this winter, with no tracks or trail to follow. Indeed this trail has only been hiked a handful of times since November 2018. Extremely cautious navigation is recommended for those who are not very familiar with hiking this trail. The Forest Service closure of Dark Canyon Road continues, and there is no vehicular access to Seven Pines trailhead.

SNOW DEPTHS measured 26-27th April 2020 (with depth on 10th-12th April 2020 in parentheses for comparison where known). Note that average depth is given, drifts can be much deeper in places. Altitudes are approximate.

San Jacinto Peak (10810′): 21″ (was 40″ on 12th April)

Wellman Divide (9700′): 7″ (was 32″ on 12th April)

Annie’s Junction (9070′): 11″ (was 35″ on 12th April)

Seven Pines Trail junction with Deer Springs Trail (8700′): 9″ (was 31″ on 11th April)

Long Valley (8600′): <1″ (was 16″ on 11th April)

Strawberry Junction (8100′): <1″ (was 25″ on 11th April)

Saddle Junction (8070′): <2″ (was 26″ on 11th April)

Devil’s Slide trailhead at Humber Park (6550′): 0″ (was 14″ on 11th April)

Peak Trail at 9800′ elevation just above Wellman Divide, 27th April 2020 (above), and on 21st April 2020 for comparison (below).
Strawberry Junction (8100′) on 26th April 2020 (above) and approximately the same view on 11th April 2020 (below).

Trail update 21st April 2020

[UPDATE 23rd April: conditions for the PCT at Apache Peak and South Ridge Trail are updated below, based on hikes yesterday and this morning, respectively.]

Today I made the most of what was likely the last true snow hike for the foreseeable future, doing a full circuit of the mountain, ascending the east side trails and descending Deer Springs Trail. Starting well before sunrise, conditions underfoot were ideal, with hard refrozen snow everywhere. This allowed me to ascend in just boots, using only the melted remains of my snowshoe tracks from three days ago for grip on slopes. Microspikes were essential for a very direct descent.

Exceptionally warm summer-like temperatures for the remainder of April will radically change hiking conditions in a couple of days starting tomorrow. Snow melt has been rapid even with moderate temperatures over the last few days, with 1-2 feet of snow lost (depending on elevation) in just a week (see photos below).

Snow conditions will continue to change very rapidly, depending on a complex combination of elevation, time of day, slope exposure, temperature, and cloud cover. The bottom line is that remarkably little snow may be left at most elevations by the end of April. Snow depths measured today, with comparison to the recent maximum depth, are listed at the foot of this posting. There has been no other hiker traffic above 9100′, and tracks disappear rapidly with melting, so very cautious navigation is recommended everywhere.

Inevitably, gear recommendations are changing almost as quickly as the snow depths and conditions. Microspikes can be useful in some areas (see below) for hikers who are less comfortable on snow and ice, on the few compacted trails, and in particular for descending. Hikers with suitable footwear and hiking poles may not need any additional traction, depending on your willingness to posthole in soft snow, and on temperature/time of day as mentioned above. Snowshoes remain useful, but for only another few days, in areas above about 9000′ elevation.

Due to the apparent contradictions and inconsistent enforcement of various county, state, and federal rules and regulations during the coronavirus crisis, I recommend contacting relevant agencies directly for their latest information. According to their website, Mount San Jacinto State Park remains open only for locals visiting from near their primary residences. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway remains closed indefinitely (since 12th March).

WEATHER Regrettably – for those of us concerned about fire risk, water, and forest health – summer apparently begins tomorrow. For the remainder of April, overnight low temperatures are forecast to resemble early July averages, and daytime highs will be more typical of June. Extremely rapid snowmelt is expected at all elevations.

At San Jacinto Peak (10,810ft/3295m) today, Tuesday 21st April 2020, at 0755 the air temperature was 21.8°F (-6°C), with a windchill of 4.4°F (-15°C), 68% relative humidity, and a bitter NNE wind sustained at 12 mph gusting to 17.8 mph.

At the Peak on Saturday 18th April 2020, at 0930 the air temperature was 23.7°F (-5°C), with a windchill of 9.6°F (-12°C), 100% relative humidity, and a cool WNW wind sustained at 7 mph gusting to 14.2 mph.

Looking SSE from San Jacinto Peak on the morning of 18th April 2020, with dense low cloud rolling over the Desert Divide.

PACIFIC CREST TRAIL

The short icy snow slope on the NE side of Apache Peak (PCT Mile 169.5) that had multiple incidents in late March has greatly improved. The very limited remaining snow is soft with obvious tracks, and is melting rapidly (see photo below).

NE slope of Apache Peak (PCT Mile 169.5) on 22nd April 2020.

The Pacific Crest Trail remains open at the rockslide just north of Antsell Rock (Mile 172.5). USFS has told the Trail Report that there are currently no plans to close this section of the PCT during spring 2020. The video report (available here) can be useful for deciding whether to try to hike around the rockslide or take an alternate route. All hikers this spring are reporting having no significant difficulty here.

Microspikes may be useful on some of the PCT for increasingly patchy snow travel between approximately Miles 173 and 191, depending upon your comfort level in variable snow/ice conditions. Hikers willing to posthole extensively and using poles may find spikes unnecessary in most areas however. See below for conditions on some specific sections of the PCT and the many side trails.

Current snow cover on the PCT is very limited between Miles 151 (Highway 74) and about 175 (Red Tahquitz). Snow is then largely continuous between Miles 175-179 (to near Saddle Junction). The Trail is rapidly clearing to about Mile 184 (just north of Strawberry Junction) except for a stubborn section of 0.5 mile approaching Annie’s Junction (Mile 180.8) which is always among the last areas to clear every spring. Most of Miles 184-191 is snow-covered, although exposed sections of Fuller Ridge (e.g., Miles 186.5-188.5) will start clearing rapidly. North from about Mile 191 to Snow Creek is clear.

PCT hikers are reminded that overnight stays are not permitted at or near San Jacinto Peak, including in the historic shelter. Mt. San Jacinto State Park regulations permit overnight stays only in established campgrounds (additionally, due to the Covid-19 crisis, no camping is currently allowed anywhere in the State Park).

TRAIL CONDITIONS

All trails above about 8000′ remain largely snow-covered, with depth depending on elevation (see below) but exposed slopes much higher are clearing rapidly. Some sections of trails above about 7000′ have may patchy icy snow cover, depending on exposure.

The Desert Divide south of Red Tahquitz, including side trails such as Spitler Peak, Cedar Spring, Apache Spring, Zen Centre, and Live Oak Spring trails, are all clear of snow. All have new treefall hazards from this winter, passable for hikers but not stock.

Deer Springs Trail is basically clear of snow to Strawberry Junction, with just a few tiny soft patches remaining. North on the PCT to about 8500′ is melting very rapidly. Snow is continuous from about Mile 184 (just south of Marion Mountain Trail junction). Snowshoes are currently useful above about 9500′ and microspikes can be useful for descending.

South Ridge Trail [updated 23rd April] is clear to Old Lookout Flat at 7600′. Snow cover is soft and extremely limited from there to about 8600′, after which cover is about 50% to the Peak. This will melt dramatically over the next few days. Microspikes can be useful for descending the uppermost 5-7 switchbacks early in the morning. South Ridge Road (currently closed) is clear of ice.

Fuller Ridge Trail (PCT Miles 185.5-190.5). There are tracks to follow through the snow, although these do match the route of the regular trail in many places.

Round Valley Trail through to Wellman Divide has not been visibly traveled since the Tram closure in mid March.

Devil’s Slide Trail is clear of snow below 7200′, largely clear below 8000′, and icy snow cover is increasingly patchy from there to Saddle Junction. Microspikes can be useful, especially for descending, but are not essential. In three locations there are new significant treefall hazards. Several more minor obstructions have been removed.

Ernie Maxwell Trail is clear of snow.

Tahquitz Peak trail from Chinquapin Flat/PCT Mile 178 has no steps to follow through the angled icy snow. These ice slopes are notoriously treacherous. Currently crampons are strongly recommended, in conjunction with an ice axe (if you know how to use both). Snowshoes are not advised due to the angle of the underlying ice.

Seven Pines Trail has had no hiker traffic so far this winter, with no tracks or trail to follow. Indeed this trail has only been hiked a handful of times since November 2018. Extremely cautious navigation is recommended for those who are not very familiar with hiking this trail. The Forest Service closure of Dark Canyon Road continues, and there is no vehicular access to Seven Pines trailhead.

SNOW DEPTHS measured 21st April 2020 (with depth on 10th-12th April 2020 in parentheses for comparison where known). Note that average depth is given, drifts can be much deeper in places. Altitudes are approximate.

San Jacinto Peak (10810′): 31″ (was 40″ on 12th April)

Little Round Valley (9800′): 30″

Wellman Divide (9700′): 14″ (was 32″ on 12th April)

Annie’s Junction (9070′): 21″ (was 35″ on 12th April)

Seven Pines Trail junction with Deer Springs Trail (8700′): 15″ (was 31″ on 11th April)

Long Valley (8600′): 4″ (was 16″ on 11th April)

Strawberry Junction (8100′): <1″ (was 25″ on 11th April)

Saddle Junction (8070′): 7″ (was 26″ on 11th April)

Devil’s Slide trailhead at Humber Park (6550′): 0″ (was 14″ on 11th April)

Strawberry Junction (8100′) on 21st April 2020 (above) and approximately the same view ten days earlier on 11th April 2020 (below).
Seven Pines Trail junction (8700′) with Deer Springs Trail on 21st April 2020 (above) and approximately the same view on 11th April 2020 (below).

Trail update 15th April 2020

[UPDATE 18th April: I discuss current gear recommendations, snow conditions, and forthcoming weather in a video recorded this morning at San Jacinto Peak. In the text below, conditions for some trails are updated based on hikes in the past two days.]

Anabel and I have been very busy in the days since the multi-day snow storm last week surveying as many different trails as possible. We hiked to the Apache Peak area this morning to assess conditions there (discussed below and in this short [breezy] video).

Snow conditions are changing very rapidly at present, and depend on many factors, as discussed in today’s video. Icy, reliable snow in the early morning can turn to the consistency of warm ice cream by mid/late morning in many areas, depending on exposure, temperature, and cloud cover, which can help or hinder hiking depending on your preference. Most areas below 7000′ have lost over a foot of snow in just three days, and some sun-exposed slopes have experienced even faster melting rates.

Snow depths measured in recent days, with comparison to the maximum depth a few days earlier, are listed at the foot of this posting. There has been little hiker traffic in the high country, so very cautious navigation is recommended everywhere.

Equipment recommendations are changing almost as quickly as the snow depths and conditions. Microspikes can be useful in some areas (see below) for hikers who are less comfortable on snow and ice, on the very few compacted trails, and in particular for descending. Hikers with suitable footwear and hiking poles may not need any additional traction, depending on your willingness to posthole in soft snow, and on temperature/time of day as discussed above. Snowshoes remain useful, but likely only for another few days depending on slope aspect, in areas above about 8000′ elevation.

Despite the strong warming trend at all elevations, hikers should be prepared for temperatures near or below freezing in the high country, and potentially well below freezing when considering windchill effects.

All trailhead parking is closed by county public health order. Enforcement was strong this weekend by multiple law enforcement agencies. I was sceptical if this would persist on weekdays, but there was clear evidence of it continuing yesterday at least. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway remains closed indefinitely (since 12th March).

Multiple treefall hazard on Devil’s Slide Trail just below Powderbox Spring, 14th April 2020.

WEATHER Largely sunny conditions and warmer – but still below average – temperatures are forecast for the remainder of April. Extensive and rapid melting will accelerate at all elevations, especially on sun-exposed slopes.

PACIFIC CREST TRAIL

The short icy snow slope on the NE side of Apache Peak (PCT Mile 169.5) that had multiple incidents in late March has greatly improved. This morning – as described in this video – snow was relatively soft and is melting rapidly. Microspikes are recommended, but it is possible to traverse without them securely. Every individual should make their own assessment of whether to cross based on their comfort level on angled snow, their experience, available equipment, time of day, and current snow conditions. If in any doubt, turn around and take the Spitler Peak Trail alternate route at Mile 168.5.

The Pacific Crest Trail remains open at the rockslide just north of Antsell Rock (Mile 172.5). USFS has told the Trail Report that there are currently no plans to close this section of the PCT during spring 2020. The video report (available here) can be useful for deciding whether to try to hike around the rockslide or take an alternate route. All hikers this spring are reporting having no significant difficulty here.

Microspikes may be useful on some of the PCT for continuous snow travel between approximately Miles 173 and 192, depending upon your comfort level in variable snow/ice conditions. Hikers willing to posthole extensively and using poles may find spikes unnecessary in most areas however. See below for conditions on some specific sections of the PCT and the many side trails.

Current snow cover on the PCT is patchy and thin between Miles 166 and about 173 (Red Tahquitz), mainly confined to certain north-facing slopes e.g., Spitler Peak (Mile 168) and Apache Peak (Mile 169.5). Snow is currently continuous between Miles 174-192 (north end of Fuller Ridge). Short sections of the Trail will start to clear rapidly in the next few days (e.g., around Strawberry Junction Mile 183). North from about Mile 191 to Snow Creek is clear.

PCT hikers are reminded that overnight stays are not permitted at or near San Jacinto Peak, including in the historic shelter. Mt. San Jacinto State Park regulations normally permit overnight stays only in established campgrounds, although due to the Covid-19 crisis, no camping is currently allowed anywhere in the State Park.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

All trails above about 7500′ remain snow-covered, with depth depending on elevation (see below) but exposed slopes much higher are clearing rapidly. Some sections of trails above about 7000′ have may patchy icy snow cover, depending on exposure.

Spitler Peak Trail is virtually clear of snow, with just a few small thin patches remaining near the PCT. There are ten treefall hazards, most of which remain since last year.

Cedar Spring Trail is clear of snow to the PCT, but still largely snow-covered to the spring.

Apache Spring Trail was about 50% snow-covered this morning but was clearing very rapidly. There are two new treefall hazards.

Deer Springs Trail is largely clear of snow to the Suicide Rock junction (microspikes not required). From there to Strawberry Junction and north on the PCT to about 8500′ is melting very rapidly. Snowshoes may be useful above about 8500′ and microspikes can be useful for descending.

South Ridge Trail is virtually clear to Old Lookout Flat at 7600′. Snow cover is currently continuous higher up, but that will change dramatically over the next few days. Microspikes are useful. South Ridge Road (currently closed) is clear of ice.

Fuller Ridge Trail (PCT Miles 185.5-190.5). There are tracks to follow through the snow, although these do match the route of the regular trail in many places.

Round Valley Trail through to Wellman Divide has not been visibly traveled since the Tram closure in mid March.

Devil’s Slide Trail [updated 18th April] is clear of snow below 7200′, and is becoming patchy below 7700′. Icy snow cover is currently continuous from there to Saddle Junction. Microspikes can be useful, especially for descending, but are not essential. In three locations there are new significant treefall hazards, caused by sheer weight of heavy wet snow (USFS and PCTA have been notified).

Ernie Maxwell Trail is clear of snow, with just a few tiny patches near Humber Park.

Tahquitz Peak trail from Chinquapin Flat/PCT Mile 178 has no steps to follow through the angled icy snow. These ice slopes are notoriously treacherous. Currently crampons are strongly recommended, in conjunction with an ice axe (if you know how to use both). Snowshoes are not advised due to the angle of the underlying ice.

Seven Pines Trail has had no hiker traffic so far this winter, with no tracks or trail to follow. Indeed this trail has only been hiked a handful of times since November 2018. Extremely cautious navigation is recommended for those who are not very familiar with hiking this trail. The Forest Service closure of Dark Canyon Road continues, and there is no vehicular access to Seven Pines trailhead.

SNOW DEPTHS measured 13th-15th April 2020 (with depth on 10th-12th April 2020 in parentheses). Note that average depth is given, drifts can be much deeper in places. Altitudes are approximate.

San Jacinto Peak (10810′): 36″ (was 40″ on 12th April)

Wellman Divide (9700′): 27″ (was 32″ on 12th April)

Annie’s Junction (9070′): 33″ (was 35″ on 12th April)

Long Valley (8600′): 8″ (was 16″ on 11th April)

Strawberry Junction (8100′): 12″ (was 25″ on 11th April)

Saddle Junction (8070′): 18″ (was 26″ on 11th April)

Spitler Peak Trail at PCT Mile 168.5 (7040′): <1″ (was 10″ on 10th April)

Devil’s Slide trailhead at Humber Park (6550′): <2″ (was 14″ on 11th April)

Strawberry Junction (8100′) on 11th April 2020 (above) and for comparison approximately the same view on 7th April 2020 (below).