Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Original Skyline Trail: Hidden in Plain Sight


The other day I was reading a local hiking forum (Mount San Jacinto) and someone asked about the Skyline Trail and where to pick it up. They posted a picture of the trail going through some houses off of Chino Road in Palm Springs instead of the normal route starting at the Lykken Trail or the Museum Trail. Looking closer at the satellite view I noticed some actual trails near the homes and thought I'd go investigate.

I headed over to Palm Springs but I forgot that Thursday is VillageFest and parking was a joke. I'd been hoping to park at the Museum Trail but no luck there. I got a nice little warm-up for my hike, though.

Wouldn't you know it? I park and hike to the trailhead and then someone leaves the moment I get a few hundred feet up the trail. See that one empty space down there? That shoulda been mine!

Anyway, I get a few hundred feet more up the trail and spot another trail leading off to the right. Where does this trail start? I've hiked this trail for over twenty years and have never noticed this little trail. I guess I've always just had my head down plugging away. I cannot believe this thing is here.

And here's where it starts. It is slightly shrouded by a Brittlebush and a Creosote but it is a well laid out trail. How did I miss this?

The trail goes across the hill above the O'Donnell Golf Course and one section heads down to this road. I don't need to go there.

Heading over the next hump I come upon the road again. This is no good. I look up at the hillside but there's nothing there. This would be a nice place to put a trail so I don't have to walk this road but since it's all I have now I guess I'll see what's up here.

Off to the left I find another little, faint trail. It's very steep but it looks doable.

It fades out but I go cross country until I hit yet another trail. Let's see where this goes.

It looks like one section goes down very steeply to the road.

Another section goes down to these houses off of Chino Road. It appears that this was the Skyline Trail before these homes were built. Google Maps still shows the trail going this way but that hasn't been the case for decades. It's interesting to know, though. Since I don't want to end up in someone's backyard, I decide to go up and see where they head on the upper end.

The trail climbs very steeply but is in great shape, far better shape than the Museum Trail. The Museum Trail has been so beat up from people essentially running up the Skyline Trail and shortcutting the switchbacks. I fear what will happen to that trail when we get a good thunderstorm up there.

The trail eventually connects with the picnic tables above Palm Springs and I have to hoof it down the hill to get back before dark. Going down the Museum Trail is death defying enough in the daylight, I really don't want to do it in the dark.

It sure would be nice to have another trailhead in Palm Springs but unfortunately with houses in the way I don't think this one is going to be feasible. It would be great if the trail across the hill could continue above the road and give access to the original Skyline Trail and create a nice little loop but landownership could be a problem. Of course, if someone wants to donate it to the city, that'd work.

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