Cahuilla Canyon is an often-overlooked area as the masses head south to Indian Canyons. And to be honest, it’s not the most interesting of desert hikes, but it does provide a nice view of south Palm Springs on a relatively easy trail.
From the parking area along South Palm Canyon Drive, you can choose a number of paths through the desert as long as you keep heading due west. Eventually, you’ll come to a ridge and then a gulley, and you’ll want to stay south of both. At this point, there is only one easy-to-follow trail (although I did deviate on a side trip down through the gulley in the map below).
Continue west until the canyon walls start to close in and the vegetation gets thicker. The trail will end at a single palm tree, and there is a seasonal waterfall nearby, although when I visited in mid-February, it was dry. The palm tree is a good place to relax and take in the view of south Palm Springs before heading back the way you came.
The round-trip is about 3 miles and includes a deceptively easy 670-foot elevation gain.
Directions: From downtown Palm Springs, go south down Palm Canyon Drive and continue straight toward the south (not east at the curve). Stay on South Palm Canyon until passing Murray Canyon Drive on the left. Park along South Palm Canyon after passing the condos on the right.