Mission Creek Trail – Desert Hot Springs, California

Mission Creek Trail in Desert Hot Springs

Stone house on the Mission Creek Trail.

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.

  • Wildflowers along the Mission Creek Trail.
  • Mount San Gorgonio peeking up above the Mission Creek Trail.
  • Locks on the gate at the Mission Creek Trail parking lot.
  • Yucca plant on the trail.
  • Abandoned resort near the start of the trail.
  • Pool near the abandoned resort on the trail.
  • Mission Creek is an unexpected ribbon of water in the desert.
  • Wildflowers along the Mission Creek Trail.
  • Mission Creek Trail
  • Water monitoring station a couple hundred feet off the trail.
  • Little friend on the Mission Creek Trail.
  • Stone house on the Mission Creek Trail.
  • This windmill no longer stands near the stone house.
  • Yucca plant near the trail.
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