I have spent most of the last ten days hiking in the San Jacinto high country. There has been yet another wild swing in weather conditions in the past few days.
Two pieces of noteworthy trail-related news. Highway 74 between Valle Vista and Mountain Center reopens this evening at 1700 with no pilot car. Localized flagging operations will continue for several weeks.
The annual maintenance closure of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway will continue thru Sunday 6th October. Check the tram website to confirm the reopening currently scheduled for 7th October.
The status of water sources is basically unchanged, as described here.
Although temperatures for the next week will be above seasonal norms, hikers should nevertheless be prepared for temperatures near freezing above about 10,000′ elevation, and potentially lower when considering windchill effects.
WEATHER In keeping with the weather theme for 2019, temperatures are on a dramatic rollercoaster again. After wintry temperatures in late September, the next week will be much warmer than average for early October, with a return to prevailing westerly airflow since Monday. There is no precipitation forecast for the foreseeable future.
At San Jacinto Peak (10,810’/3295m) on Tuesday 1st October 2019 at 0915 the air temperature was 35.5°F (2°C), with a windchill temperature of 22.5°F (-5°C), 19% relative humidity, and a brisk W wind sustained at 9 mph gusting to 17.8 mph.
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 until 7th October.
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.
Seven Pines Trail has at least 35 trees down, almost all above 7500′ elevation. 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 very indistinct and heavily overgrown in places, and hikers without considerable prior experience of this area should exercise extremely 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.