This week we decided to “trade in palms for pines” for a day. We drove one hour west and 5100 feet up to the start of the hike for Black Mountain. This is a dog friendly hike but we were not sure how Gizmo would do on a 7 mile hike if it was exposed to the sun the whole way like so many other hikes we have done recently. Well, this would have been a good hike for him with plenty of shade. The hike started up immediately from the parking lot and never stopped climbing. The hike is about 3.75 miles each way with over 2600 feet of elevation gain, so it’s a really good workout. The trail is surrounded by pines and oaks and it we really enjoyed being “in the woods” after so many desert hikes. The trail is mostly loose gravel/sand with great footing. Despite being in the woods there are many view points along the route to the top. The views across the Coachella Valley and other distant mountains were excellent. We only met one other person on the trail the entire day. I find this amazing for such a great hike. The weather in Palm Springs was near 80 on this day and even though we were up in elevation I would say we were in temps ranging from 60-70. As we neared the top we found a few patches of melting snow and there was a slight breeze. The one thing I can say about hiking in California is there is a lack of trail signage. There are no trail markers on trees and we only had one sign near the top that marked the trail to take down. We knew there was a fire tower on the top of Black Mountain but there was no obvious trail to it. It took us some time taking what I would call “herd paths” to find the route to the tower. The tower itself was locked up but you could still climb the stairs to get a 360 degree view of the area. The tower was built in 1962 and is one of the shorter towers I have seen with 3 flights of stairs leading to the top. The tower is very well built and is still in excellent condition. The summit of Black Mountain is 7772 feet high and is in the San Jacinto range. There are excellent views of San Jacinto mountain from the top. The hike down was great, we ran most of the way, stopping only to take photos or enjoy the views. We found some of the biggest pine cones and acorns we have ever seen. I am pretty sure the pine cones were from a Coulter Pine
John and I are hoping to re-hike this trail on Christmas with Gizmo. We are currently experiencing a “cold snap” in the mid 60’s here in the valley which means it’s really cool up around 7000 feet. I know the mountains got some snow last night so the next time up we might be hiking through some snow. I guess that’s one way to get a “white christmas” around here.