Trail update 17th June 2020

[UPDATE 21st June: Black Mountain Road reopened yesterday. I drove it today, and it has been graded through to Fuller Ridge campground. Boulder Basin and Black Mountain Group campgrounds remain closed.]

The streak continues. I have hiked daily to San Jacinto Peak since 1st May, making today 48 consecutive ascents (and also my 101st of the year). Use of many different ascent routes has allowed thorough reporting of, and work on, trail hazards, including in the past week Seven Pines, Marion Mountain, Deer Springs, Willow Creek, Peak, and Devil’s Slide trails.

Several recent days have been pleasantly cool in the morning, and I recorded a windchill temperature below freezing at San Jacinto Peak on Saturday 13th.

Snow is now completely gone from the trail system, and water is, for now, flowing steadily everywhere, so the Trail Report can be mercifully brief. The focus has been on trail maintenance work and surveying for future projects.

Limited camping is now available in Mount San Jacinto State Park, see their website for details. The U.S. Forest Service ranger station in Idyllwild remains closed, although faxed requests for camping permits are apparently being processed promptly. USFS facilities at Humber Park (e.g., trash and restrooms) reopened on Monday 15th June.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is closed indefinitely (since 12th March) due to the coronavirus crisis.

WEATHER Temperatures will be about seasonal until this weekend, when considerable warming to well-above average temperatures begins, with hot weather next week. Near record-breaking temperatures in the high country are forecast late next week. There is no precipitation in the forecast.

At San Jacinto Peak (3295m/10,810ft) today, Wednesday 17th June 2020, at 0735 the air temperature was 50.5°F (10°C), with a windchill of 44.2°F (7°C), 17% relative humidity, and a steady WNW wind sustained at 8 mph gusting to 14.5 mph.

The coolest recent day at the Peak was Saturday 13th June 2020, when at 0705 the air temperature was 38.6°F (4°C), with a windchill of 26.3°F (-3°C), 10% relative humidity, and a brisk due West wind sustained at 13 mph gusting to 23.4 mph.

The warmest day of 2020 to date recorded at San Jacinto Peak remains Thursday 28th May, when at 0830 the air temperature was 54.9°F (13°C).


All trails have been clear of snow since early June. Many trails have new treefall hazards from this past 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 treefall mess around Saddle Junction was cut and cleaned up by USFS volunteer sawyer Steve on Monday 15th June.

Willow Creek Trail has 19 tree hazards (8 on Forest Service land, 11 on State Park) between Willow Creek and Hidden Divide from this past winter, based on new surveys on 8th and 11th June. Five additional trees on Forest Service land between Saddle Junction and Willow Creek have been cleared since late May. Great progress has been made on whitethorn cutting and removal, led by USFS volunteer Bill, with the trail now largely cleared on the State Park side and only a few more weeks work needed on the Forest Service section.

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

Forest Service temporary signage indicates that the Caramba Trail from near Reeds Meadow through Laws Camp and on to Caramba, and the Cedar Trail from Willow Creek Trail to Laws, are “not maintained”. In reality both trails no longer exist. Both are so heavily overgrown I advise hikers do not attempt to follow them. Many experienced hikers have reported getting lost in this area since summer 2019. 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 indistinct, becoming even less obvious as it nears Laws (by which time Willow Creek is close by on your left hand side, so navigation is not a challenge). I hope to work on the trail in July. From Laws east to Caramba the route of the original Caramba Trail is relatively easy to follow (for those who were familiar with this trail prior to the 2013 Mountain Fire). Nevertheless very cautious navigation is still advised.

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 recent weeks, some 2-3 months earlier than last year, and some water challenges in late summer and autumn seem likely.

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