Horseshoe and Hidden Palms, Coachella Valley Preserve – Thousand Palms, California
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.
Directions: From the Bob Hope/Ramon Road exit on I-10, travel east on Ramon through Thousand Palms for about 2.5 miles, then turn left onto Thousand Palms Canyon Road. Follow this north for 2 miles to the well-signed Coachella Valley Preserve parking lot on the left.