Recently, I had the chance to visit Palm Springs with my Boy Scout troop, where we were able to experience the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, and hike in Mt. San Jacinto State Park.
The ride to the tram begins as you go up a slight incline, from approximately 479 feet above sea level at the center of the city, to the start of the tram in the mountains at about 2,643 feet above sea level. Cars are parked in certain parking lots along the way, where a bus picks people up, and drives to the beginning of the tram center. Inside the center are restaurants, gift shops, places to buy tickets, and a nice outdoor view of the mountain, where you can see trams journeying up to the beginning of the trails. The tram car is a circular closed shape with the operator in the middle and people surrounding it inside the tram near the surrounding walls and windows. The windows open all around the tram, allowing for ventilation, and there are also hand bars to grab onto as you go up the ride.
The tram takes approximately ten minutes to get to Mt. San Jacinto State Park, with great scenery and views of the city and surrounding cliffs and mountains. As you go up the tram, the floor rotates slowly, allowing visitors to enjoy a 360-degree view of the mountain and city. The trams also shake with turbulence as they pass each of the five towers located on the ride up, which can make the experience quite frightening if you are scared of heights. However, the ride can also be quite enjoyable if you are able to appreciate all the features and experiences that come with riding on the tram. The ride travels from 2,643 feet above sea level to 8,516 feet above sea level.
At the main center where trams arrive, there are also other areas that give a broader view of Palm Springs and the main city. At night, when the city is lit up, the sight of the large suburbs and buildings is even prettier.
The air is fresher and crisper on the mountain, which makes hiking on the many trails enjoyable, as it is easier to breathe in the clean air. You can expect the temperature to drop on the hikes since the elevation increases. There are many trails, but our troop hiked the Desert View Trail, which is a 1.5-mile loop hike with a number of scenic overlooks, and chances to take great pictures. There are 5 notches, or viewpoints, to take pictures and enjoy the scenery of the forests and other mountains. It is a relatively easy hike with no steep hills to climb, and suitable for most people. The trail features tall trees with running water through a meadow, which makes the hike ever so appealing to hikers. At most of the notches, our troop would take pictures to appreciate the great views from the trail.
Going down the tram features a similar experience to going up, but faster and possibly more enjoyable as you know what to expect. As previously mentioned, the views from the tram are extraordinary during the night, and overall, the trip was very enjoyable for our troop. The tram and the hike were a unique and a positive experience for me, and can be a new journey for many people, as you can enjoy the scenic overlooks.
My troop and I enjoyed taking the tram to the top of the San Jacinto State Park and hiking on the trail which featured good views of the city and overall mountain. For a quick weekend getaway, it is a highly recommended trip, to take the tram and a short trek on the mountain, which is suitable and enjoyable for many people.
Jonathan Kim, Grade 8
Culver City Middle School