Plant Guide to Caramba Trail, San Jacinto Mountains

This is a working list, about which we make no guarantees at all until we officially release it. Use at your own risk!

Introduction and Explanation of Plant Trail Guides

Highlights of This Trail
Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time
Botanical Trip Reports
The Plant Guide
Comments On Specific Species


The Caramba Trail extends from Saddle Junction on the west to the Caramba Overlook on the east. This guide is to the easternmost section of that Trail, beginning at the Caramba Overlook and ending at Laws Junction near Willow Creek.

This is an unusual direction for a guide, since one must first travel this entire segment in the opposite direction, from Laws Junction to the Caramba Overlook, in order to get to the beginning of the guide! There are two reasons for doing the guide in this counter-intuitive direction:

This section of the Caramba Trail is roughly 2.26 miles long, with ~965 feet of elevation gain and ~280 feet of elevation loss for travel in the direction of the guide. The roundtrip from Laws Junction to the Caramba Overlook and back is thus 4.52 miles long, with a total elevation gain and loss of ~1245 feet.

The Trail is shown on the following map:

The location of the trail was derived from GPS records of the trail on 29 June 2007. The trees and rocks were sparse enough so that the GPS accuracy was ~20-30 feet, significantly better than elsewhere in the dense pine forest of San Jacinto Mountain. The GPS track from 29 June 2007 followed the trail on the topo map quite well except for the four major departures shown in the map.

Three of those departures have "cut switchbacks" from two of the drainages and from one ridge, making the trail a bit shorter, but adding some elevation gain and loss. On the trail, there was no indication that the trail ever followed the switchbacks shown on the topo map. We'll try to look for the old trail that used the switchbacks on our next visit there.

The fourth departure is at the Caramba Overlook end of the trail. The trail shown on the topo map stays on the north side of Tahquitz Creek, and heads east to the Caramba Camp shown on the topo map. The trail now heads south, crosses Tahquitz Creek, and travels to the saddle labeled Caramba Overlook on the map above.

The pathway to the Caramba Overlook is not necessarily obvious; we almost missed it on 6/29/07 since, for example, the Robinson and Harris San Bernardino Mountain Trails says you can scramble onto some large rock outcroppings for superb views. (Those directions may be leftover from the trail on the topo map going to Caramba Camp.) We looked for rock outcroppings, found only ones on the north side of Tahquitz Creek to be easily accessible, and found there was no view when we got there.

Here is a tip to find the pathway to the Overlook. The trail along the south side of Tahquitz Creek travels immediately next to the Creek, and ends at a sign saying Warning: Impassable Falls Ahead. The Overlook Path leaves the trail to the right, going uphill, just before that sign; look for cairns to pick it up.

There are only two ways to get to Laws Junction to take this trail. One option is to come up the Devils Slide Trail from Humber Park at Idyllwild, and take the Caramba Trail at Saddle Junction. The entire route from Humber Park to the Caramba Overlook and back is 14.0 miles roundtrip, with a total elevation gain and loss of 3,515 feet.

The second way is to ride the Palm Springs Tramway, and take the trail from Long Valley past Hidden Divide to Laws Junction. This appears to be roughly 13.1 miles roundtrip, with ~3220 feet of elevation gain and loss, not terribly different from the Humber Park option.

Another option is to do a car shuttle between Humber Park and Palm Springs and combine both ways. The route from the Tramway Station to the Caramba Overlook and then to Humber Park is 13.5 miles total, with "just" 2,330 feet of elevation gain and 4,405 feet of elevation loss.

See also guides to some of the trails on the route to this section of the Caramba Trail.

Highlights of This Trail

The botanical highlights of this trail are:

Number of Unique Taxa On This Trail

The following histogram gives the number of trails in our database that contain each taxon on this trail (not including the taxa seen only off-trail given at the end of the guide). We had 104 trails in our database when this histogram was made; 7 of those trails, including this one, are in this area of San Jacinto Mountain. A number of "1" means the taxon has only been found on this trail among the trails in our database; numbers of "7" or smaller may indicate taxa found only in this area of San Jacinto Mountain.

Number of Trails
Containing A Taxon
Number Of Taxa
On This Trail
% of Taxa
On This Trail
Total Taxa57100%

We found 9 additional species not in the above table, since they have not been fully identified yet. The unidentified ones are marked with ? or sp in the id? column in the guide, and have no entries in the #all column.

Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time

The following table gives the dates the trail was walked and taxa recorded. After each visit, the table gives the total number of taxa on the list and the breakdown of the taxa without positive identification. See Explanation of Plant Trail Guides to understand the symbols below.

Visit DateVisit ## taxa# "?"# "sp"# "~"# "ssp"

We thank Jim Adams for finding the glaucus willowherb, Epilobium glaberrimum ssp. glaberrimum, at Tahquitz Creek near the Overlook Trail, on 6/29/07.

Botanical Trip Reports

29 June 2007

The Plant Guide

Version for printing, without lines and other text on this page: html (4 pages) or pdf Clickbook booklet (1 double-sided pages). (See printing instructions for an explanation of these options)

The mileages in the guide come from Topo! using the trail shown in the map above. The total mileage is almost surely slightly underestimated, probably by no more than 10%, due to the tight switchbacks on the trail that are not accurately measured by that program. The elevations come from the topo map, and should be fairly precise.

The guide below does not yet give the switchbacks, since there was only time to record the plants themselves on 6/29/07.

MileS#id?Common NameLatin Name#here#all
0.00   Begin guide at Caramba Overlook, elevation ~6740 feet (2054 m). Most landmarks, such as switchbacks, are not yet in guide.
0.00r1 sugar pinePinus lambertiana50 / 916
0.00b2 Wright's buckwheatEriogonum wrightii var. subscaposum99 / 917
0.00r3 incense-cedarCalocedrus decurrens30 / 918
0.00l  (Jeffrey pine, Pinus jeffreyi; incense-cedar mistletoe, Phoradendron libocedri)
0.00r4 rose sageSalvia pachyphylla50 / 92
0.00r5 canyon live oakQuercus chrysolepis30 / 929
0.00r6 San Bernardino rubber rabbitbrushChrysothamnus nauseosus ssp. bernardinus40 / 919
0.00l7 Jeffrey pinePinus jeffreyi50 / 925
0.02r8sspsquirreltailElymus elymoides30 / 99
0.02r9 San Jacinto buckwheatEriogonum apiculatum1 / 17
0.03b10 California false-indigoAmorpha californica var. californica50 / 94
0.03r  (rock goldenbush, Ericameria cuneata var. cuneata)
0.03r11 incense-cedar mistletoePhoradendron libocedri1 / 14
0.04l12 naked buckwheatEriogonum nudum var. pauciflorum40 / 96
0.04r  (oak mistletoe, Phoradendron villosum)
0.05r  (California fuchsia, Epilobium canum)
0.07r  (short-flowered monardella, Monardella nana ssp. tenuiflora)
0.07r13 goldenrodSolidago californica20 / 343
0.07l14 white firAbies concolor99 / 923
0.07l15 arroyo willowSalix lasiolepis+1 / 143
0.07r16sspsticky cinquefoilPotentilla glandulosa20 / 53
0.08l17 Parish's bedstrawGalium parishii1 / 18
0.08l18~rush blue grassPoa secunda ssp. juncifolia30 / 95
0.08l19 short-flowered monardellaMonardella nana ssp. tenuiflora30 / 94
0.09l20 sulphur buckwheatEriogonum umbellatum var. munzii5 / 310
0.10   Jct. main trail along Tahquitz Creek; turn left; lowest elevation on trail, 6640 feet (2024 m)
0.10l21 California fuchsiaEpilobium canum20 / 320
0.10r22sppenstemonPenstemon labrosus or P. rostriflorus10 / 1 
0.11r  (definite arroyo willow, Salix lasiolepis)
0.14   Trail curves right
0.18l23 Parish's lupineLupinus latifolius var. parishii1 / 17
0.18   Trail turns right 90° to cross Tahquitz Creek
0.18r24 streambank lotusLotus oblongifolius var. oblongifolius30 / 15
0.18r25 swamp sedgeCarex senta20 / 18
0.18r26 Idaho bentgrassAgrostis idahoensis5 / 16
0.18r27 slender hairgrassDeschampsia elongata5 / 17
0.18r28 spreading brown-headed rushJuncus phaeocephalus var. paniculatus5 / 13
0.18r29 larger mountain monkeyflowerMimulus tilingii10 / 18
0.18l  (western columbine, Aquilegia formosa)
0.18   Cross Tahquitz Creek
0.18l30 mountain pink currantRibes nevadense5 / 28
0.18c31~brittle bladder fernCystopteris fragilis1 / 14
0.18b32 giant red paintbrushCastilleja miniata ssp. miniata2 / 19
0.18r33 western azaleaRhododendron occidentale5 / 16
0.18b34 black cottonwoodPopulus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa2 / 17
0.20l35 Sierra Nevada lotusLotus nevadensis var. nevadensis2 / 18
0.20   Trail turns left on north bank of Tahquitz Creek
0.20r36 (Grinnell's beardtongue, Penstemon grinnellii var. grinnellii)
0.26r  (pine dwarf-mistletoe, Arceuthobium campylopodum)
0.27l  (pink-bracted manzanita, Arctostaphylos pringlei ssp. drupacea)
0.28r37~mountain mugwortArtemisia ludoviciana ssp. incompta30 / 39
0.30l38 California-asterLessingia filaginifolia var. filaginifolia30 / 959
0.30r39 mountain grape-soda lupineLupinus excubitus var. austromontanus50 / 98
0.33r  (green-leaf manzanita, Arctostaphylos patula)
0.34b40 beautiful hulseaHulsea vestita ssp. callicarpha10 / 27
0.36l41sspnarrowleaf bedstrawGalium angustifolium ssp. angustifolium10 / 254
0.36l42?Parish's goldenbush?Ericameria parishii?1 / 1 
0.37r43 pink-bracted manzanitaArctostaphylos pringlei ssp. drupacea50 / 95
0.38l44spbristly? bird's beakCordylanthus (rigidus ssp. setigerus?)20 / 2 
0.38b45 deergrassMuhlenbergia rigens10 / 330
0.38 46 slender everlastingGnaphalium canescens ssp. thermale50 / 96
0.38l47spKentucky blue grass?Poa pratensis ssp. pratensis?3 / 1 
0.38   Cross drainage
0.40   Cross another branch of same drainage
0.74l sp(needlegrass, Achnatherum sp.)
0.74   Local high point, elevation 6965 feet (2123 m)
0.79   Cross first of three main side drainages; local low point, elevation 6955 feet (2120 m)
0.83l48 California coffeeberryRhamnus californica3 / 14
1.07r49~plain mariposa lilyCalochortus invenustus2 / 112
    Check for Poa fendleriana
1.14r  (mountain whitethorn, Ceanothus cordulatus)
1.17   Local high point, elevation ~7270 feet (2216 m)
1.22r50 green-leaf manzanitaArctostaphylos patula20 / 516
1.23r51 pine dwarf-mistletoeArceuthobium campylopodum1 / 14
1.30   Cross second of three main side drainages; local low point, elevation 7200 feet (2195 m)
1.35r52 mountain whitethornCeanothus cordulatus20 / 519
1.40   Local high point, elevation ~7275 feet (2217 m)
1.40b53 (dead) San Jacinto lupineLupinus hyacinthinus99 / 96
1.45   Local low point, elevation ~7245 feet (2208 m)
1.45l54 broad-leaved lotusLotus crassifolius var. crassifolius50 / 39
1.48b55 yarrowAchillea millefolium10 / 118
1.48   Cross second of three main side drainages
1.48r56~slender wheatgrassElymus trachycaulus1 / 14
1.55l57 *downy bromeBromus tectorum20 / 329
1.58l58sppeppergrassLepidium sp.5 / 1 
1.71b  (live) San Jacinto lupineLupinus hyacinthinus /  
1.79l59 fir mistletoePhoradendron pauciflorum1 / 113
1.83   Local high point, elevation 7360 feet (2243 m)
1.89r  (snow-plant, Sarcodes sanguinea)
1.90b60 fragile sheath sedgeCarex fracta20 / 210
1.90   Cross third major side drainage, local low point, elevation ~7290 feet (2222 m)
2.09   Local high point, elevation ~7510 feet (2289 m)
2.16l61 pinedropsPterospora andromedea1 / 110
2.18r62sphorsetailEquisetum hyemale ssp. affine or E. laevigatum10 / 1 
2.19l63 brackenPteridium aquilinum var. pubescens10 / 115
2.21r  (yellow willow, Salix lutea)
2.26   Cross Willow Creek; local low point, elevation ~7420 feet (2262 m)
2.26r64spsedgeCarex sp.10 / 1 
2.26r65 breakfast bedstrawKelloggia galioides10 / 13
2.26r66sptall grass?5 / 1 
2.26   Laws Junction; elevation ~7425 feet (2263 m); end plant trail guide. See guide for Laws Loop
    Taxa seen in or near Tahquitz Creek just beyond the junction with the Overlook Trail that are not seen elsewhere on the Guide:
    lemon lilyLilium parryi / 7
    rigid hedge-nettleStachys ajugoides var. rigida / 21
   sprough bentgrass? or bluegrass sp.?Agrostis scabra? or Poa sp.? /  
    scarlet monkeyflowerMimulus cardinalis / 18
    willow-leaved dockRumex salicifolius var. salicifolius / 2
    shaggy-haired alumrootHeuchera hirsutissima / 2
    granite prickly phloxLeptodactylon pungens / 10
    Durango rootDatisca glomerata / 8
    silver wormwoodArtemisia ludoviciana ssp. ludoviciana / 2
    glaucus willowherbEpilobium glaberrimum ssp. glaberrimum / 5

Comments On Specific Species

Salix lasiolepis. The determination came from the leaves on this specimen, and the glabrous ovaries seen on a nearby specimen along Tahquitz Creek.

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Copyright © 2007 by Tom Chester, Dave Stith and Jason Hollinger.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to us at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 6 July 2007.