A Day Trip to San Jacinto State Park

DSC_0125If you are looking for a nice day trip, from Orange County, and like the outdoors I recommend a trip to the beautiful Mount San Jacinto State Park in Palm Springs, to hike around on the trails. This is exactly what the husband and I did this past Sunday.

The hiking trails are easy, especially if you are just meandering and allowing all of your senses to fully absorb everything the forest has to offer. The senses go into overdrive the minute you step on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, this is especially true if you have a height thing, which I do.

Follow me after the jump for more photos and commentary.

As you can see from the photo below, it looks like you’re heading straight into the side of the mountain, when you are on your way up.  One thing, of several, that is a bit disconcerting is the rocking when the tramcar goes by the cable-holding towers. Not only is it disconcerting, but annoying too because most of the passengers yell “WHOO!” Call me a curmudgeon or a killjoy, but I think it’s stupid. Really, though, I’m just looking straight ahead and not thinking about plunging headfirst into the valley below.

The scene from inside the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It's a little disconcerting.

The scene from inside the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It's a little disconcerting.*

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A really cool feature of PSAT cars is that the floor rotates 360°. So no matter where you are standing you get an outstanding view.*

The valley below ... a long way down. Yikes!

The valley below ... a long way down. Yikes!*

All that plunging aside, as you climb higher and higher the air gets cooler and sweeter. Even though your belly, OK mine, feels a little unsteady the strangest thing begins to happen, you can already feel the tension melting away. Seriously. Maybe it’s just being over a mile and a half above sea level (8,500 feet = 1.609 848 484 8 miles) makes my brain woozy since the air is “thinner.”

Regardless, the air smells divine – a combination of wood, pine, with a little sweetness thrown in – and feels crisp and cool, which is a nice contrast to the warmth of the sun, which was quite hot. I think you can actually taste the freshness.

We packed a picnic lunch, walked away from the crowds and found a flat rock to perch on and enjoyed our sandwiches. While there we just enjoyed the sounds of the forest. You know that saying “it sounded like a train?” well, that is kinda what strong winds sounded like blowing through the trees. A milder wind just sounded like ambient freeway noise. We heard lots of birds calling and smaller animals like squirrels and those little lizards, you see all over SoCal, scurrying about. Of course you can also hear the ever-present Homo sapiens.

The husband enjoying the peacefulness and the view.

The husband enjoying the peacefulness and the view.

I pretty blue bird, not a Bluejay. Does anyone know what kind of bird it is?

A pretty blue bird, not a Bluejay. Does anyone know what kind of bird it is?

In addition to all of traditionally beautiful scenery, I think there is a lot of beauty in dead trees. Odd, I know, but I think they are just so interesting looking.

Dead Tree Against a Blue Sky

Dead Tree Against a Blue Sky

Don't the branches look like antlers?

Don't the branches look like antlers?

I’m not a photographer. I just like to take photos of things that I find interesting or to document what I saw. I was also having fun playing with my new camera.

Sap on a Dead Tree

Sap on a dead tree. Doesn't it look like candy?

Since my camera is brand new, I said to the husband, “I think I’m going to take my battery charger. I’m not sure how long it will last.” His reply “What are you gonna do, plug into a tree?” I didn’t take the charger. However, if you DO decide to take your power cables you’re in luck, it’s not a tree, but close. According to the website there is Wi-Fi access as well. Who knew?

You CAN plug-in in the forest.

You CAN plug-in in the forest.

So, my Orange County friends, what are your experiences in the forest? By the way, this is as close as I get to camping.

After walking around in the woods, we sat in the lodge, I don’t know if that’s what they call it, but that’s what it looks like. We had a beer on the patio and just continued to relax. We continued our relaxing with a great dinner in Palm Springs (we brought a change of clothes) and then drove home. A perfect day through-and-through.

The drive is approximately an hour and 45 minutes from Orange County. If you decide to make the trip, I recommend you bring three things: good hiking shoes, as the ground is very uneven; a jacket/sweater/sweatshirt, as the temperature is easily 20° – 30° cooler than at the base of the mountain; and lastly water.

* These three photos, of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, were taken during another trip two years ago.

4 Comments so far

  1. Dandy (unregistered) on September 10th, 2009 @ 8:34 am

    I love this! We will definitely have to do this day trip. I loved all the pictures except for first few which made me very uncomfortable. It looked a little scary for a while there!


  2. pittrollie on September 10th, 2009 @ 10:27 am

    Dandy ~ If you look down, you can see the pitons workers use/used … talk about uncomfortable. You couldn’t pay me to rock climb. Yeah, definitely go, it’s so worth it.


  3. Jon (oc_jon) on September 10th, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

    This looks so cool! I wanna go! I wanna go!


  4. Evan (unregistered) on September 10th, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

    I think they should warn you about passing over that first tower–I hadn’t been on it for years, and forgot about it. What’s funny is that my wife was taking a picture of me at the exact moment when it feels like you’re going to die, and while I’m smiling, the look in my eyes is pure fear.



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