one of many "Museums on Us" deals available to you as a card holder from Bank of America. They'll let you in for free on the first weekend of every month.
From the LA area, take I-10 east to the Monterey Road exit, then head south (right). Follow the signs. You'll go straight for 7.3 miles. Along the way, Monterey Road turns into CA-74 West.
There are several partially-shaded verandas along the way, with benches, and some information kiosks. There were also several water fountains, although the water pressure was too low to actually get a drink unless you were willing to wrap your mouth around the outlet.
The counter-clockwise approach leads you towards a "V" in the mountain. Once in the "V," you're getting about as much shade as you'll find on this trail. There's little vegetation anywhere, although in spring and winter, there are some potentially flowering plants here. I took pictures of a few I saw.
You're only maybe halfway up to the top of Eisenhower Peak at this point. This is just my way of letting you know this trail does NOT go to the top of the mountain. But the views are still magnificent, as long as ponds and golf courses in a desert do not offend your sense of propriety.
Again more great views from near the top, with Mount San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio often in your view, and desolate desert peaks much closer. The contrast with "civilization," down below, is striking.
There was practically no wildlife visible to me on this trip. I saw a literal handful of birds, and no mammals or reptiles. Not even many insects, though I can't say that bothered me.
Once back at the zoo, I wandered a bit, taking pictures of the cheetahs, giraffe, and bighorn sheep. The exhibit spaces for those animals create many opportunities for good, natural-looking shots.