The Cactus to Clouds hike is long. You start on the desert floor and climb to 10,804 feet. You gain over 8,000 feet in the first 12 miles and much of this is hiking in dry aird desert conditions. The total elevation gain is 10,400 feet in 17.5 miles. An early start is suggested if you intend on making the last tram down.
From the very first step you start gaining elevation - non stop. After a mile you come across a rock painted with a note saying, "No water on trail until Round Valley Ranger Station, 8 miles, 10 hours." New information from the State Park Rangers suggest it is 11 miles and not 8. After 12 hard miles you reach Long Valley. This is where the upper tram station is as well as the State Park Ranger Station where you will need to obtain a permit for the rest of your hike. From the Ranger Station simply follow the signs to the summit. In 5.5 miles you will have reached your goal and probably will be exhusted. Return to Long Valley and the upper tram station for the ride down.