Mission Creek Trail is an often-overlooked gem on the way to the Joshua Tree area from Palm Springs. The area is owned by the Wildlands Conservancy, which also owns other hiking areas around San Gorgonio, including Whitewater Preserve, Oak Glen Preserve and Pioneertown Mountains Preserve.
The Mission Creek Trail is an easy stroll of just under 3.5 miles round-trip to a stone house (with picnic tables and flush restrooms) with the namesake Mission Creek flowing alongside most of this path. Wildflowers bloom during the spring, and there is a large patch of grapevines at one point. For a strange diversion, veer to the left when you see the sign for the stone house to discover an old water-monitoring station on the creek against a cliff.
The trail continues past the stone house and eventually links with the Pacific Crest Trail, which will lead you to another of the conservancy’s preserves – Whitewater. The between the two preserves is 8 miles and can be done as a thru-hike if you have a car waiting for you at the Whitewater terminus.