Mount San Jacinto SP
Narrated by Russ Christoff
Welcome to Mount San Jacinto State Park and wilderness. You’ve stepped off the tram into another world.
A world of wilderness, where tranquility, rest, challenge, and adventure await you.
An island of biodiversity, amidst a sea of desert and urban development.
A place to loose oneself, or a place to be found.
California State Parks welcomes you to this special place. We invite you to get to know it and make it your own.
With your help, we can enjoy it today, and preserve its wonders for the enjoyment and inspiration of generations to come.
First, let’s get oriented. You’re sitting in the mountain station at 8,500 feet above sea level. Don’t be surprised if the scenery takes your breath away.
Not only is the view spectacular, but the air is much thinner up here. The park is the highest in California State Park system, and San Jacinto Peak reaches into the sky at 10,834 feet.
Out the back door of the mountain station, you’ll find a paved walkway that leads to Long Valley.
This is a great place for nature walks or winter snow play.
In Long Valley, stroll the easy three-quarter mile nature discovery trail where you’ll be introduced to plants and animals that make their homes at this elevation.
In early Spring, you may see snow plants, those reddish spikes with urn shaped flowers. Smell the fragrant pines and firs that shade the trail.
Let the squirrels, jays and woodpeckers entertain you.
Another enjoyable walk in Long Valley is the desert view trail.
As its name implies, this mile and a half trail leads past unique rock formations to expansive views of the desert, some four and a half miles distant and eight thousand feet below.
Looking down, it is easy to imagine the mighty San Andreas Fault that runs along the Coachella Valley, creating mountains on both of its sides.
On a clear day you can see the Salton Sea, over 30 miles in the distance.
On summer weekends, parks staff or volunteers lead walks along these two delightful paths.
Be sure to stop by the State Park’s visitor center for more information about our interpretive programs.
Books, maps and other park information are also available there.
Beyond Long Valley, lies 30,000 acres of state and federal wilderness.
If you’d like to venture into this remote wonderland, you’ll need a permit.
Permits are free and you can pick one up at the Long Valley Ranger Station.
Rangers there can also tell you about current trail conditions and weather forecasts.
Hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular ways to explore the wilderness.
Camp in remote mountain site and enjoy the beauty of a mountain meadow.
Stop to listen to native birds or photograph wildflowers.
Whether it’s your goal to sit on a rock or climb a peak, you’ll find just the right place waiting for you.
One of the things that makes Mount San Jacinto State Park and wilderness so unique, is the variety of plants, animals and habitats found here, which adds to the park’s biodiversity.
Changing elevations and landscapes create a variety of distinctly different communities of plants and animals within the park.
Although each community of life is different, they are all intricately connected to each other.
Fragile mountain meadows are awash with colorful flowers such as lavender Shooting Stars, purple Asters, yellow Monkey Flowers and crimson Columbine.
They provide food for insects, rodents and birds.
These small creatures are in turn fed upon by larger mammals and birds of prey, including majestic Golden Eagles.
A lot of mountain streams grow a great variety of plants, such as the large frond Bracken Fern, the creamy white stalks of the Corn Lily, the fragrant western Azalea and bright pink topped Sierra Currant.
In dry open spaces, you might discover the tall purple spikes of Lupine among the conifers.
Mountain meadows are the place to find deer.
Keeping a weary eye for predators, such as mountain lions, they nibble and wander through the grasses.
Coyotes amble through the dusky forest, while bobcats quietly search for prey.
Busy ground squirrels search here and there for acorns.
A little further down, stately oak trees are joined by manzanita with its deep red bark.
If you hike to lower elevations, you’ll notice Perry’s Nolina, plants often mistaken for Yuccas, and with rare luck you may even spot an elusive Peninsular Big Horn Sheep foraging on the rocky slopes.
At last count, there were well over 200 species of wildlife here at Mount San Jacinto State Park.
This variety of life is found nowhere else on earth.
Ancient people also felt drawn to the wonders of the San Jacinto mountains.
For centuries, the Kawia people made these mountains their home, hunting along the slopes and gathering its seasonal harvest.
People have long sought spiritual nourishment on Mount San Jacinto as well.
Takeets Peak, San Jacinto Peak, and Lily Rock were some of the places considered sacred by the Kawia Indians.
These high places were believed to be sites where sacred beings dwelled or touched down when they visited the earth.
Takeets Peak, got its name from Takeets, the God of earthquakes, lightning, thunder and other powerful natural events.
Whether you believe in the spirit of Takeet Or not, danger does lurk in San Jacinto’s wilderness.
Whether you are seeking inspiration or an invigorating high altitude workout, please remember to think safety first.
Before entering the wilderness, even for a day hike, make sure each member of your party has the ten essentials.
These are the items no mountain explorer should be without.
The first item is sun protection, sunscreen and sunglasses.
You’re going to need extra clothing, shell garments and rain clothes.
Extra food and extra water.
In case of an emergency, you should always carry a First Aid Kit.
A knife, matches in a waterproof container or good lighter.
And after you get that fire going you are going to need something that will sustain a flame.
Either fire tablets or even a candle would work.
To find your way, you are going to want to carry a good map.
Not just the map but the ability to read it.
And a compass.
You are going to need a flashlight with extra bulb and batteries.
There is one final item that is not part of the original ten, but we strongly suggest it, and that is a whistle.
A whistle can be heard for a quarter mile to a mile away, and if you become lost this is your quickest way to get attention brought to your situation.
These items together are called the Ten Essentials. Don’t leave the trail head without them.
Notice that a cell phone is not on our list of ten essentials. In the wilderness, a phone signal often is unavailable and batteries do run out.
Don’t make the mistake of relying on your phone. Rely instead on your own preparation for the journey.
This may seem like a lot of gear, but it actually takes up very little space and doesn’t weight that much.
Before you go out, check your day pack and imagine spending the night on the mountain with what you have.
Will you be comfortable? More importantly, will you be able to survive?
Although rangers and other emergency personnel are trained to rescue injured or lost hikers, you’ll need to take care of yourself until they can come to your aid.
While you’re enjoying the tram station, the state park, and the adjoining wilderness, the rangers have one last request.
You see many of the wildlife, especially near the tram station need your help.
They will try to look adorable and lure you into feeding them.
When the visitors start to feed them, they develop a habit of coming to visitors for food, and they forget about foraging because it’s so easy.
The food that our visitors would feed them is not necessarily the right kind of food for them.
And, after awhile the animals can become aggressive trying to get handouts from people.
You are entering an island of wilderness.
In it you may find relaxation, inspiration, challenge, adventure or danger. It’s up to you.
If you like to get away and have solitude, then this is a wonderful place to do it.
We have 10,000 acres of wilderness up here, where you can be by yourself, and enjoy the scenery and quietness, the animal and plant life.
It’s a pretty unique place.
Whether you come in winter, summer, spring or fall, we hope you’ll appreciate and enjoy the biodiversity that awaits you at San Jacinto State Park and wilderness.