By

Cahuilla Canyon Trail – Palm Springs, California

Palm tree at the west end of the Cahuilla Canyon trail.

Palm tree at the west end of the Cahuilla Canyon trail.

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.

  • Barrel cactus on the Cahuilla Canyon trail near Palm Springs.
  • Cahuilla Canyon trail near Palm Springs.
  • View of south Palm Springs from the Cahuilla Canyon trail.
  • Cahuilla Canyon trail near Palm Springs.
  • Palm tree at the west end of the Cahuilla Canyon trail.

Read More

By

Desert View Trail – Mount San Jacinto State Park, California

Grubbs Notch on the Desert View Trail

Grubbs Notch on the Desert View Trail

The Desert View Trail is a great trail for families or those wanting to enjoy the solitude of Mount San Jacinto State Park without venturing into the wilderness areas (unlike most trails in the park, Desert View does not require a free permit).

At about 1.5 miles and with very little elevation change, it is a relatively easy introduction to the trails at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The trail also features the amazing desert views (hence the name of the trail) of Grubbs Notch. This point is actually five notches – or openings in the tree cover that expose the fantastic views of the Palm Springs area, about 8,000 feet below.

Once past the notches, the trail loops around to the north to head back to the mountain tram station. Warning: The concrete walkway back up to the station is less than fun after a day of hiking.

  • Desert View Trail
  • Desert View Trail
  • Grubbs Notch on the Desert View Trail
  • Grubbs Notch on the Desert View Trail
  • Grubbs Notch on the Desert View Trail
  • Grubbs Notch on the Desert View Trail
  • Grubbs Notch on the Desert View Trail
  • Grubbs Notch on the Desert View Trail
  • Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Read More

By

Palm Canyon Trail to Stone Pools – Palm Springs, California

View of the palm oasis on the Palm Canyon Trail near Palm Springs.

View of the palm oasis on the Palm Canyon Trail near Palm Springs.

The hike from the Indian Canyons trading post to the stone pools via the Palm Canyon Trail is one of the most popular in Palm Springs. On land owned by the Agua Caliente tribe, there is an entrance fee of $9 per adult, but the fee is well worth it for the bright splashes of green that pop out from the otherwise brown desert.

The Palm Canyon trail starts at the trading post and immediately drops about 70 feet into a huge palm oasis. Follow the stream toward the back to find the trail, which is the left fork at the split. The trail snakes through the palm oasis until it ends after about a mile and then climbs a ridge so hikers get an bird’s eye view of the oasis below. This ridge is the steepest part of the trail. After this, the trail runs mostly straight and flat through open desert with expansive views of Mount San Jacinto to the north and the Santa Rosa chain to the south and west for about two miles before hitting the stone pools. When I went in mid-February, the pools were dry, but in the spring, they can fill up, especially after winters with heavy rain (a relative term in the desert).

The trail soldiers on to the south for many more miles, but a lot of hikers turn back at the stone pools. If you want an alternate route, take the high road once you arrive back at the south tip of the palm oasis. That trail will climb a ridge to the east of the oasis and adds an extra mile to your trip, which ends again back at the trading post.

  • Start of the Palm Canyon Trail in Indian Canyons near Palm Springs.
  • Oasis on the Palm Canyon Trail in Palm Springs
  • Oasis on the Palm Canyon Trail in Palm Springs
  • View of the palm oasis on the Palm Canyon Trail near Palm Springs.
  • View of the palm oasis on the Palm Canyon Trail near Palm Springs.
  • Palm Canyon Trail near Palm Springs.
  • Agave on the Palm Canyon Trail.
  • Palm Canyon Trail near Palm Springs.
  • Palm Canyon Trail near Palm Springs.
  • Sign near stone pools on the Palm Canyon Trail.

Read More

By

Broadmoor Trail – Palm Springs, California

Overlooking Eagle Canyon oasis on the Broadmoor Trail.

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.

  • View of San Gorgonio from the Broadmoor Trail.
  • The wide Broadmoor Trail.
  • View from the Broadmoor Trail.
  • View from the Broadmoor Trail.
  • Overlooking Eagle Canyon oasis on the Broadmoor Trail.

Read More

By

Mount San Jacinto Peak – Palm Springs, California

Me at the 10,834-foot peak of Mount San Jacinto.

Me at the 10,834-foot peak of Mount San Jacinto.

The trek to the peak of Mount San Jacinto is one of the more strenuous hikes in the area – and worth every bit of effort it takes to navigation 11 miles round-trip with a 2,300 elevation gain.

As you’re heading out from the mountain station of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, make sure to stop first at the ranger station and fill out a free permit for hiking in the wilderness areas of Mount San Jacinto State Park.

Once you’re on your way, the hike can be broken down into three parts:

– Tram station to Round Valley: The initial portion is about 2.5 miles long with a modest 700-foot elevation gain. You’ll keep bumping into (and crossing over) a stream with varying levels of water depending on the season. You’ll travel past large boulders and Jeffrey pines until you see a meadow to the north, your signal that you’re almost at Round Valley. There are pit toilets and a nearby campground with a spigot for washing (or boiling before drinking). Round Valley is about 9,100 feet above sea level.

– Round Valley to Wellman’s Divide: This is a steep incline, the most difficult stretch of the hike in my opinion. It has the same 700-foot elevation as the first segment but over only a one-mile distance. It’s a beautiful trail through thick pine forest with plenty of boulders to rest on if you need to catch your breath in the increasingly thin air. Once you arrive at the lookout with great views to the southwest; you may even be able to see Palomar Observatory. Now you’re just a bit under 10,000 feet above sea level – around 9,700.

– Wellman’s Divide to the Peak: Continue following signs at Wellman’s pointing to the peak. The tree cover will get thinner (as will the air), and as you switchback up the final ridge, you can look east and see both the open Round Valley meadow and the mountain tram station. You’ll go mostly up for about 2 miles until you crest the ridge and make your way across a brief flatter area until you see a stone house, used for rangers and emergencies. At this point, the trail ends, but to reach the peak, you’ll go boulder-hopping up to the very top, where a sign marks the 10,834-foot-high peak, the second-highest mountain (next to Mount San Gorgonio, viewable to the north) in southern California.

Take your time, take some photos and enjoy the beautiful 360-degree views at the peak before heading back the same way you came up. It’s a memorable journey, and you’ll earn bragging rights for conquering Mount San Jacinto… And I’ll brag: I’ve done it 5 times!

  • Mount San Jacinto
  • Round Valley meadow
  • Round Valley
  • Wellman's Divide
  • Mount San Jacinto peak
  • Mount San Jacinto peak
  • Mount San Jacinto peak
  • Mount San Jacinto peak
  • Round Valley
  • Mount San Jacinto peak

Read More

By

Araby Trail – Palm Springs, California

View of Bob Hope's house from the Araby Trail.

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.

  • Murray Peak pokes over a ridge as seen from the Araby Trail in Palm Springs.
  • Araby Trail in Palm Springs.
  • Looking up at Bob Hope's house from the Araby Trail.
  • Looking up at Bob Hope's house from the Araby Trail.
  • View of Bob Hope's house from the Araby Trail.
  • View of Palm Springs from the Araby Trail.
  • Araby Trail junction with Berns and Garstin trails.
  • View of Palm Springs from the Araby Trail.
  • Araby Trail in Palm Springs.
Read More