The Round Valley Loop Trail is a moderately strenuous hike of about 4 miles in the beautiful Mt. San Jacinto Wilderness, which is accessed from the Mountain Station of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes you out of the summer heat in the desert up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon to a hiking paradise that is about 30 degrees cooler than the valley floor. It is a 10 minute ride from the Valley Station – elevation 2,643 ft. to the Mountain Station – elevation 8,516 ft. You can purchase a Summer Pass which allows you to ride up the tram as many times as you want from May 1 to August 31, which is well worth the price.
To find the trail, walk down the cement ramp that leads down from the Mountain Station of the tram, and follow the signs to the Long Valley Ranger Station. From the ranger station you will see the sign that points you in the direction of the Round Valley Loop Hike. The hike includes fairly level trails, short climbs, and is moderately strenuous.
The loop trail is easiest if you follow the trail to the right (counterclockwise) when you get to the sign behind the ranger station. The way to the left starts to climb almost immediately and is more difficult because it isn’t as gradual a climb.
The hike takes you through part of the Mt. San Jacinto Wilderness, so you will have to stop at the ranger station to pick up your free wilderness permit.
After obtaining your permit, and asking the ranger about current trail conditions, you will follow the trail that leads from the left side of the ranger station up the hill. After a short while you will come to a ‘Y’ in the trail. You can go either way, however like I said the trail to the right is a more gradual uphill climb than the trail to the left. The choice is yours at that point.
Either way you go there are signs along the trail to point you in the right direction, but if it is your first visit I recommend purchasing a trail map from the gift store at the mountain station of the tram.
If you take the trail to the right like I usually do, it is a fairly level hike in some places, with some short climbs through switchbacks, and it is a moderately strenuous hike.
About 1/3 of a mile before you reach Round Valley you will come to a junction, to continue the loop just go to the left, on that section of the loop trail you will have some uphill climbing to do on the way back, but nothing too difficult. There are a couple junctions along the way, but the signs will point you back to the Long Valley Ranger Station.
Please remember that this hike is in a wilderness location, so you should always check the weather reports before going up the mountain, or ask the ranger about any possible storms coming your way, and always have proper hiking equipment. You should have proper hiking boots or shoes, and plenty of water and follow these hiking tips.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes you up to Mt. San Jacinto State Park which offers about 54 miles of hiking trails located within the 14,000 acre Mt. San Jacinto Wilderness area. All of the trails including the trail to Round Valley are accessed by exiting the Mountain Station and descending a concrete pathway less than a mile long to Long Valley.
Mount San Jacinto State Park Information
Address: 25905 Highway 243, Idyllwild, CA 92549
Mt. San Jacinto Message Board
Planning on hiking up Mt. San Jacinto? Here is a great website to find out current trail conditions, weather and to meet up with other hikers.
Weather Conditions at The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Check the weather conditions at top of the Tram before going on any hike in the Mt. San Jacinto Wilderness. Even in the summer storms can pass through which can make hiking dangerous. During the winter knowing if a storm is coming can save your life. Click here for weather conditions at top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
Please use caution hikers!
Hiking in and around Palm Springs and at the top of the tram in the Mt. San Jacinto Wilderness can be very dangerous, and many people have to be rescued from the area at the top of the tram each year. Usually it is due to lack of preparation, such as having proper hiking equipment, plenty of water and also a map of the area. Just because it is a desert doesn’t mean it will not get cold in the winter, and it definitely gets very hot in the summer. Weather at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway can be hot in the summer, and very cold in the winter, and it can be windy and very dangerous. Wear proper clothing, have proper equipment and follow these hiking tips or you may pay with your life.
Also, please stay on the trails. There is no reason to get lost in this area if you stay on the trails and use common sense.