Overlooking Eagle Canyon oasis on the Broadmoor Trail.
The Broadmoor Trail (also called the Goat Trail) is a wide hiking and biking trail that begins from the east side of the Rimrock Shopping Center in Palm Springs and is the entrance point to a wide variety of trails throughout the Santa Rosa Mountains. Hikers can scale Murray Peak, head east toward the Dunn Trail system that leads to Palm Desert or veer west toward Palm Springs and the network of trails above Bob Hope’s house.
Depending on the length and route, this can be moderate to strenuous. The trip I took, which ended at an amazing view overlooking Eagle Canyon oasis, is moderate at almost 3.5 miles and an elevation gain of about 650 feet. But a round-trip to Murray Peak is about 10 miles with about 1800 feet of elevation gain.
And keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, as they have been spotted throughout the area.
Palm oasis on the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.
The Borrego Palm Canyon Trail is probably the most popular hiking trail in California’s Anza Borrego Desert State Park. And with good reason. The approximately three-mile round-trip journey is close to the park’s visitor center, very scenic and fairly easy.
Starting from the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, the trail enters the canyon with ample opportunities to see the park’s famed (and rare) bighorn sheep climbing the ridges to the north. In fact, I saw a female near the top on this hike (hint: stay quiet to hear their footsteps on rocks as they are tough to see).
The canyon walls eventually close a bit tighter on the trail as you get closer to the oasis at the end. You’ll see increased vegetation and a stream flowing from the oasis. You’ll be able to see the oasis about a half mile before you reach it, and the grove of California date palms is a relaxing place to rest before heading back.
There is an alternate route back which is well-marked (you’ll likely see it on your way to the oasis). I recommend taking it back as it is less traveled and is at a higher elevation, giving you a wider perspective of the canyon. It ends at the opposite end of the campground’s parking lot, just a couple hundred feet from where you started.
Cholla cacti on the Yaqui Well Trail.
The Yaqui Well Trail is a leisurely stroll through cholla, ocotillo and agave on your way to the more dense vegetation around the well itself, which was a vital source of water to the Kumeyaay tribe that once inhabited this portion of what is now California’s Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
The well-marked trail starts across the street from the Tamarisk Grove campground and is an easy walk that reaches the well after about a mile. Brochures at the trail head describe various features of interest along the trail. The well itself is marked only by a sign among the greenery saying it’s closed for restoration.
Looking down into the slot canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
The Slot Canyon area of Anza Borrego Desert State Park gives you a look into yet another dimension of the diverse park.
There are a couple different ways to get down into the slot canyon from the parking lot. I walked around the ridge to the right side of the lot and climbed down on the far side. It’s a bit easier than sliding straight down from the parking lot, although that is the quickest option.
However, you make your way down, you then wind your way through the slot, with its steep walls and slim passages. A rock that has wedged itself 50 feet up between the canyon walls is the most notable feature. Once you see this, you can turn back the way you came or (as I did), keep going until you see a branch off to the right. You can follow this for awhile until it peters out and then do some rock scrambling over unmarked terrain until you loop back to where you started. Even this more adventurous route is less than 2 miles total, but it gives you some new scenery and a chance to look down at the canyon you just passed through.
View looking east from the Lake to Cove Trail in La Quinta
One of the most popular of the La Quinta cove’s many hikes is to Cove to Lake Trail, also called the Morrow Trail. It’s so named because the trailhead starts at the top of the La Quinta cove and winds around a mountain to Lake Cahuilla.
The full trail is about 3 miles long and can be done as a thru-hike if you drop a car or arrange to be picked up from the lake. You can also start at Lake Cahuilla County Park and hike thru to the cove, but there are fees to enter.
Wildflowers on the trail to Amboy Crater.
Amboy Crater National Landmark is a great example of a dormant volcanic cone. North of the crater, off Route 66, there is a short path dotted with black volcanic rocks that in the summer is often covered with yellow wildflowers that leads to the western slope of the crater. The path then leads up the slope and into the crater, where hikers can walk around the perimeter and look out at the vast expanse of desert (and the tiny outpost of Amboy to the northeast) for miles. It’s about 4 miles from the parking lot to the crater and back.
Make sure to visit the town after your hike… The little general store has frozen candy bars and milkshakes, and the abandoned resort is worth a look.
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.
49 Palms Oasis Trail – Joshua Tree National Park
The 49 Palms Oasis Trail is a back door to Joshua Tree National Park. It has a separate road from Highway 62 leading to it that does not connect to any other road in the park, and because of that, visitors to 49 Palms do not pay an entrance fee.
It’s a fairly unknown spur of the park with no camping and relatively few hikers. It’s a great half-day hike – not too long and moderate with a great palm oasis at the end.
North Lykken Trail
Not to be confused with the South Lykken, the trailhead of the North Lykken Trail begins at the end of Ramon Road in Palm Springs and meets up at the same picnic tables above the Desert Museum Trail.
With an approximate 900-foot elevation gain and absolutely zero shade, the North Lykken is on the tougher edge of being a moderate trail. A trip from Ramon Road to the picnic tables and back is about 3 miles, but there are other trails you can connect to from the picnic table area to lengthen your hike.
When starting out, keep a look out for the trail to veer left and take that instead of the wider jeep road that pushes ahead. Almost immediately, the trail goes into a series of switchbacks heading up the first ridge. Get used to that… it’s a common theme on this trail.
There are great views of downtown Palm Springs as the trail traverses ridges directly to the west of the town. You can easily pick out the Forever Marilyn statue, the convention center, Desert Regional Hospital and more.
View of Bob Hope’s house from the Araby Trail.
The Araby Trail in Palm Springs is a moderate-to-strenuous hike up to the first ridge of the Santa Rosa Mountains. You’ll gain 1,000 feet of elevation in about 2 miles, and once at the top of the Araby, you can connect to the Santa Rosa’s impressive network of trails via the Burns, Garstin and Clara Burgess trails.
The most notable feature of this trail is that it skirts just behind the Bob Hope House, an iconic Palm Springs landmark. And it gets close: You can look into the house’s patio and front windows from the trail’s nearest point. Mind the “No Trespassing” signs as the property (which as of Dec. 2012 is for sale) reportedly has armed security guards.