I knew that Skyline was one of the hikes that I eventually had to take on, along with C2C and C2C2C, and because of the heat that easily hovers over upper 90s during summer, most of Skyline Trail hikes are often scheduled either in the beginning of the year or toward the end of the year, it was about time. Timing wise, however, my concern was if I could hike at the pace as I usually do due to injury.
HOW TO GET TO SKYLINE TRAILHEAD
If you are coming from the Greater Los Angeles area, it is logical to take I-10E till you exit to get on CA-111, which turns into N Palm Canyon Dr. to get to Palm Springs Art Museum. The trailhead is right next to the museum.
If you are coming from San Diego or Temecula, it is very likely to take CA-371 and then CA-74 to get to Palm Springs via Palm Desert and Cathedral City, however you get to CA-371 in the first place.
WHEN TO HIKE SKYLINE
Late fall, winter and spring. It offers a window of limited months of time due to heat. Even then the start time should be 5 am or earlier.
During winter when it snows, you may need proper winter gear (microspikes, macrospikes, snowshoes, crampons and an ice axe). Always check the weather condition first before planning. Poor preparation will lead to an unsuccessful hiking experience.
ITEMS YOU MUST BRING
- Plenty of water (4L or more)
- Layers of clothing
If it is a winter hike, please, make sure to bring proper winter gear as noted above.
OUR SKYLINE HIKE
It has been over 3 1/2 weeks since my injury, and in spite of the fact that I’ve been home remedying the plantar fasciitis in my left foot every since and that I’ve seen the progress, I was not 100% sure if I would be able to hike it without any problem.
And I was able to. However, it turned out that the issue wasn’t that. The issue was cramping. Toward the end of the hike, I was literally cramping on almost every step, and it was quite challenging to get through it. Definitely lack of salt did it, but also not having been able to hike for almost 4 weeks took a toll on my both thighs and calves. 8,300 plus feet elevation gain in just 5 hours with almost 4 weeks of no hiking could easily do that.
Skyline Trail is about 9 miles long and makes a hiker work hard for the finish with the aforementioned elevation gain. Supposedly, the reward is a quick and easy tram ride, which costs $12 each way. Particularly, the tram is popular for hikers who want to summit the San Jacinto Peak, which is less strenuous than hiking from Marion, Deer Springs or Humber Park trailhead with typical 6,000 plus elevation gains.
It was all dark since we started at 5:15 am, and the view of the city of Palm Springs looked pretty impressive. It was quite warm and humid in the lower elevations, but once we got to the higher altitude, the temperature was actually perfect.
The dawn was near, and I knew that we would have an incredible sunrise view.
It is all part of a hike that such a daily phenomenon makes one more appreciative of his/her surroundings. And as beautiful as sunset, the sunrise brings joy that anyone on this planet can relate to. A new day.
The view from the trail is incredible in that the view of Palm Springs and the desert never go out of sight, unlike when one starts from Idlewild.
It was my first time taking the tram down. It was kind of funny to look at how long it took us to hike Skyline – 5 hours, as opposed to how short the ride was – 10 minutes. The ride was breezy.
It was quite interesting to see how full it is when the tram comes up.
On my way to get back on the freeway, the windmills outside the city limit caught my eye. Of course, I saw the field of windmills from the trail while hiking earlier, but this view was something that I didn’t see when I drove in the dark earlier in the morning.
I’ll probably be back again next weekend for another Skyline hike. A spooky one.
Have you done Skyline? What was your experience like? What season did you do it in? Any particular sections you find difficult or challenging? Share your experience with all of us. New hikers will always find information we share here useful.
Thanks for reading.