The trail system is now functionally clear of snow. Spikes have not been required on the trail system for several weeks. Current conditions for individual trails are discussed in detail below where known.
The USFS Humber Park trailhead and parking lot, which includes the Devil’s Slide Trail (3E05) trailhead and the upper trailhead for the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail (3E07), was originally closed between Monday 16th May and Friday 20th May due to insecticide spraying operations. However, due to early completion of the work, Humber Park is now expected to reopen on the afternoon of Wednesday 18th May. Closure notices at Saddle Junction may not be removed until Thursday 19th.
The State Park section of Skyline Trail reopened on 10th May having been closed since 1st February.
In addition to multiple ascents of San Jacinto Peak by different routes in recent days we have surveyed large segments of the PCT, its side trails, and a few Forest roads. Trails surveyed in recent days have included all of the Tahquitz area meadows, Spitler Peak, South Ridge, Marion Mountain, Seven Pines, Willow Creek, and Deer Springs trails.
Due to the exceptionally dry state of the mountain already, there is a brief summary of water conditions where known at the foot of this Report. A short video report (available here) was published on 10th May giving a visual overview of current water conditions in the high country. Air quality and visibility down in the lowlands, especially the Coachella Valley, has been poor all year, likely due to the lack of rainfall combined with windier than average conditions.
South Ridge Road was partially graded in mid April, smoothing the worst sections. Santa Rosa Road (7S02) reopened on 7th April. Dark Canyon Road (5S02) remains in winter closure.
Black Mountain Road (4S01) reopened on 11th May. Forest Service campgrounds seasonally closed for the winter are expected to reopen in the week before the Memorial Day weekend (including Boulder Basin, scheduled to reopen 26th May). The State Park Stone Creek Campground reopened for the season on 6th May.
The Forest Service ranger station in Idyllwild, closed for more than two years (originally due to the coronavirus pandemic), is scheduled to reopen on Saturday 21st May 2022.
After a couple of pleasantly seasonal days at the beginning and end of this week, temperatures are forecast to rise to far above seasonal from 21st to at least 26th May. Overnight low temperatures in particular will average 10-15°F above seasonal at mid elevations. Temperatures in the high country on 24th-29th will more closely resemble July/August than May. There is no precipitation in the forecasts.
At San Jacinto Peak (10,810ft/3295m) on Wednesday 18th May 2022 at 0740 the air temperature was 45.1°F (7°C), with a windchill temperature of 33.8°F (1°C), 37% relative humidity, and a pleasantly cool NE wind sustained at 10 mph gusting to 19.8 mph.
At the Peak on Monday 16th May 2022 at 0750 the air temperature was 43.3°F (6°C), with a windchill temperature of 34.7°F (1°C), 29% relative humidity, and a fresh due West wind sustained at 10 mph gusting to 13.7 mph.
At the Peak on Wednesday 11th May 2022 at 0820 the air temperature was 21.9°F (-6°C), with a windchill temperature of 2.7°F (-16°C), 13% relative humidity, and a gusty due West wind sustained at 13 mph gusting to 26.7 mph.
All major trails are functionally clear of snow. Some tiny icy snow patches remain in a handful of places above about 9000 ft elevation as mentioned below. Named trails are completely clear of snow/ice unless discussed below.
Skyline Trail reopened on 10th May having been closed from the State Park boundary (5800 ft) up to Grubb’s Notch since 1st February.
Due to greatly reduced maintenance work by the agencies and PCTA during the coronavirus pandemic, many trails have accumulated treefall hazards since late 2019, passable with care by hikers but not for stock. Although reported promptly, most hazards were not removed in 2021. With storms this season being accompanied by strong winds and heavy ice loads, hikers should expect to encounter many new and additional hazards, especially in vulnerable burn areas (e.g., Willow Creek Trail, PCT Miles 170-177).
Although some treefall hazards from Red Tahquitz to Antsell Rock (PCT Miles 172.5-175) were cleared in June 2021 prior to the rockslide removal work, the situation has badly deteriorated since. In my most recent survey I counted at least 72 treefall hazards between PCT Miles 170-175. At least a third of these are major hazards that require scrambling over or around.
The notoriously hazardous 0.4 mile section of South Ridge Trail from Chinquapin Flat/PCT Mile 178 to Tahquitz Peak is now functionally clear of icy snow, and spikes are no longer required.
The PCT is now functionally clear of snow throughout the San Jacinto mountains. A few tiny patches remain just south of Annie’s Junction starting at about Mile 180.3, as do a few on the most sheltered sections of Fuller Ridge (Miles 188-189.5)
Snow cover now averages <5% on the Peak Trail, persisting in patches in two short traditionally persistent areas around 10,000 ft and 10,100 ft. Spikes are not required. The trail route on the East Ridge still has 40% snow cover but spikes are not required. The Wellman Trail is functionally clear of snow.
Marion Mountain Trail is clear of snow. There is one huge new treefall hazard across the trail exactly at the State Park/Forest Service boundary.
Deer Springs Trail is functionally clear of snow. A few tiny patches remain on the traverse near the North Fork of the San Jacinto River around 9400 ft elevation. Patchy snow cover is now <10% in Little Round Valley. Icy snow patches cover <5% of the trail from Little Round Valley to San Jacinto Peak. (Three new trees came down in late 2021 on the PCT/Deer Springs Trail just south of its junction with Marion Mountain Trail, but they are readily passable for hikers.)
South Ridge Trail (south of Tahquitz Peak) is clear of snow to Tahquitz Peak. The middle section of South Ridge Trail (between May Valley Road and the top of South Ridge Road) has several trees down which are significant obstructions.
Willow Creek Trail is clear of snow. However there are at least 40 downed trees between Skunk Cabbage Junction and Hidden Divide, nearly 30 of these on the Forest Service section.
Spitler Peak Trail is clear of snow. Forty downed trees, most from an ice storm in late December 2021, plus dozens of additional trunks and branches in the trail, have been removed by the Trail Report from this trail in early 2022.
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 optimistically described by the Forest Service as “not maintained”. In reality both trails no longer exist and are so heavily overgrown I advise hikers do not attempt to follow them. An informal use trail to Laws is much more direct and avoids all of the very challenging bushwhacking of the unmaintained trails (some local hikers dubbed it the “King Trail” when I established the route in 2019). 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, meeting Willow Creek just upstream from the old Laws Camp. From Laws east to Caramba the route of the original Caramba Trail has been well-cairned by myself and others and can largely be followed with very careful route-finding. My February 2022 survey counted 97 trees down on this 2.1 miles of trail. It is especially obscure 0.1-0.3 mile east of the Willow Creek crossing, becoming clearer near Caramba. Cautious navigation is advised throughout the area.
Seven Pines Trail is functionally clear of snow. This trail has had very limited hiker traffic since November 2018, largely because Dark Canyon Road was closed from February 2019 to early October 2021, and again since December 2021. The Trail Report has “adopted” Seven Pines Trail as a priority for maintenance work as the trail has had a disproportionate number of lost hiker rescues in recent years. Starting in November 2021, 42 downed trees on the lower 3.0 miles of trail have been removed. Almost all of this section has also been thoroughly trimmed and cleared, and the trail is now obvious and easy to follow for much of its length (when clear of snow). However at least 18 downed trees remain on the upper 0.7 mile of trail, the route is very obscure in places, and cautious navigation is essential for those who do not have extensive experience of hiking this trail. Dark Canyon campground remains closed.
This is not a comprehensive review of the status of all mountain water sources. In the high country there are still patches of snow available for melting, and several less well-known minor springs are flowing. Sadly however – given that it’s only May – I have already been getting many questions regarding water availability on the mountain. I have checked all of these water sources personally in recent days.
This video gives an overview of major water sources in the high country as of 10th May.
Water sources currently flowing include: Wellman’s Cienega, Round Valley faucet, Little Round Valley Creek (at west end of valley, very weak), North Fork of the San Jacinto River (both where it crosses Deer Springs Trail and on Fuller Ridge Trail at PCT Mile 186), Deer Springs (PCT Mile 185.4, very weak flow), Willow Creek crossing on Willow Creek Trail, Tahquitz Creek (PCT Mile 177 and also Little Tahquitz Meadow), Skunk Cabbage Meadow creek, Strawberry Cienega (weak), Apache Spring (weak), Cedar Spring, Live Oak Spring, Antsell Rock Creek (at the Spitler Peak trailhead), Spitler Creek (on Spitler Peak Trail).
Water sources known to be dry: Tahquitz Valley pipe, Penrod Canyon (approx. PCT Mile 154).
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