Trail update 11th September 2019

I’ve spent the last three days camped in the San Jacinto high country, hiking extensively on the trail system and elsewhere. A short vlog from San Jacinto Peak – the first in a while – is on YouTube linked here.

The status of water sources, many of which were rechecked yesterday and today, is basically unchanged from the update linked here, and news on the status of road closures is also described at the foot of that posting.

The thunderstorms of last week refreshed the forest and caused some minor erosion, visible throughout the trail system.

Extensive trail work should be underway this month, with tree clearance crews from various agencies scheduled for upper Deer Springs Trail, the PCT from Spitler to Red Tahquitz, and Seven Pines Trail, at least.

Hikers should always be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions in the high country. Autumnal temperatures are now the norm (see Weather below). Thunderstorms with lightning, precipitation, and rapid temperature drops, are possible in the high country even when such storms are not forecast.

WEATHER Autumnal temperatures (accompanied by extremely low humidity) are here, with windchill values near freezing overnight above 10,000′ elevation. That said, the next few days, including the weekend, will be unseasonably warm, before a return to pleasantly chilly September conditions next week. No notable precipitation is forecast.

At San Jacinto Peak (10,810’/3295m) today, Wednesday 11th September 2019 at 0620 the air temperature was 43.9°F (7°C), with a windchill temperature of 36.1°F (2°C), 13% relative humidity, and a brisk due West wind at 12 mph gusting to 16.5 mph.

At the Peak on Tuesday 10th September 2019 at 0625, the air temperature was 43.3°F (6°C), with a windchill temperature of 33.4°F (1°C), 9% relative humidity, and a steady WSW wind at 10 mph gusting to 14.9 mph.

Sunset from San Jacinto Peak, 10th September 2019.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

All trails, including the entire Pacific Crest Trail throughout the San Jacinto mountains, have been free of snow since the end of June.

Hikers planning ascents of Skyline Trail are reminded that the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is closed for maintenance 9th-29th September. Warning signs have kindly been posted at the Ramon and Museum trailheads by great friend of the Trail Report, Florian Boyd.

The Pacific Crest Trail remains open at the rockslide near Antsell Rock (Mile 172.5). The video report from late May (available here) can be useful for deciding whether to try to hike around the rockslide.

Forest Service closures to the Boulder Basin and Black Mountain Group campgrounds (both accessed from Black Mountain Road), and Dark Canyon Road, will remain in place all year. Consequently, Dark Canyon campground is also closed, and there is no vehicular access to Seven Pines trailhead.

Willow Creek Trail has had almost all obstructing trees removed this summer. Two trees down on the trail between Willow Creek and Hidden Divide are both passable, one on USFS land by a temporary alternate trail, and one on State Park land can be climbed over. This is a huge improvement from the nearly 30 trees down on this trail in June.

Seven Pines Trail has at least 35 trees down, almost all above 7500′ elevation. State Park has scheduled work this month to remove some or most of these obstructing trees. This trail has been very lightly traveled since 2018, and is indistinct in places. Hikers without considerable prior experience of this trail should take great care with routefinding.

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 the end of June. Both trails are indistinct in places, and hikers without considerable prior experience of this area should use cautious navigation.

The Cranston Fire closure order expired at the beginning of August. Although this does not impact the wilderness trail situation, it does mean that the popular dirt roads and mountain bike trails of the May Valley and Bonita Vista roads area are now open.

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