Waterfall on the Heart Rock Trail
The Heart Rock Trail is a great walk through the pine forests near Crestline. The trail itself can be a challenge to find, but once you’re on it, it’s well marked.
The spur that heads down a steep hill to the heart rock is about a half mile from the trailhead. It can be tough to spot, but if you listen for the voices of people who have flocked to it (it can be crowded on summer weekends), you’ll be able to find it. Use caution heading down and be prepared for a scramble on the way back up because that part of the trail is steep.
The namesake of the trail (don’t look at the photos if you want the view to be a surprise) is near a wonderful waterfall with a nearby rock jump for the adventurous types. The jump is only about 10-15 feet high, but make sure to aim carefully as the landing pool isn’t very big. I jumped twice, and little kids were having a great time doing it.
There are a lot of large rocks in and around the stream at the base of the waterfall that make for great picnic spots and photo opportunities.
View of Horseshoe Palms in the Coachella Valley Preserve.
The Coachella Valley Preserve has a wealth of trails to follow, and this one takes you through a barren and unforgiving landscape to two different palm oases, which around formed due to their proximity atop the infamous San Andreas Fault.
First note: Do NOT attempt this hike during the summer. People have died on the trails once the mercury soars above 100 degrees F. And take plenty of water regardless of the time of year.
After parking in the preserve’s lot, head southeast on the short section of trail that leads across the road (and past an alternate parking area) and keep following the signs to the palm areas until you reach a set of stairs built into the ridge. Head up them and you’ll see a sign at the top pointing you in the right way.
From this junction, you can head to three different oases – Pushawalla, Horseshoe and Hidden palms. Follow the well-posted signs through a rocky, moon-like landscape with sparse vegetation (just a few creosote and brittlebush survive here) to choose the one you want. Hidden Palms to the south is thicker and offers more shade than Horseshoe, although the route I took and posted below takes you by both.
There is a steep downgrade before reaching Horseshoe Palms, then you’ll walk down a jeep road that connects you to Hidden Palms. After heading north from Hidden Palms, you’ll climb back to the moon landscape, where you’ll double-back on the trail you started on.
Chuckwalla Trail, Rancho Mirage, California
The Chuckwalla Trail takes you past some high-priced real estate in the hills above Rancho Mirage.
The trail has about 400 feet of elevation gain, split into two separate climbs, so I’d classify this two-mile trail on the easy side of moderate.
After climbing quickly at the start, the trail flattens out after half a mile or so, giving you nice views of neighboring Cathedral City, especially the Cove area.
After another mile or so, the trail ducks under a condo complex before rounding a hill and giving you nice views of some mid-century modern houses to the south. The trail ends at the top of Frank Sinatra Drive, and you can walk past the swank Ritz Carlton hotel along the road back to your starting point.