Top 10 hikes to enjoy in cooler weatherHiking trails are abundant in Palm Springs. From easy walking trails to difficult terrain, the outdoor enthusiasts will experience spectacular mountain vistas, waterfalls, natural streams, rocky gorges and unusual rock formations. The pristine desert air mixed with giant palm trees and an alpine wilderness create the perfect setting of natural desert beauty.
Hike the world’s largest fan palm oasis in Palm Canyon, the tranquil and intimate Andreas Canyon , or the secluded and wandering Murray Canyon. Tahquitz Canyon rewards hikers at the end of a moderate hike with a beautiful 40 ft. waterfall.
Indian Canyons Centuries ago, ancestors of the Agua Caliente Cahuilla Indians settled in the Palm Springs area and developed extensive and complex communities in Palm, Murray, Andreas, Tahquitz and Chino Canyons. Many traces of these communities exist in the canyons today, including rock art, house pits and foundations, irrigation ditches, dams, reservoirs, trails, and food processing areas.
Mount San Jacinto stands 10,834 feet above sea level, and is the second highest mountain range in Southern California. Mt. San Jacinto State Park offers 54 miles of hiking trails located within a 13,000 acre pristine wilderness, one of the last in California. Trails can also accessed by the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway’s Mountain Station.
Here are the Top 10 hiking trails in the Palm Springs area, all recommended for hiking in weather that is 80 degrees or cooler:
1) Andreas Canyon Trail – 2 mi., 50 ft. gain, 1 to 2 hrs – LOOP Trailhead: in the Indian Canyons located on S. Palm Canyon Dr. Admission charge; Information (760) 323-6018. A leisurely hike along a quiet stream with ledges of rock used by Cahuilla women.
2) Tahquitz Canyon – 3.5 mi., 300 ft. gain, 2 to 3 hrs – IN-OUT Trailhead: at the Tahquitz Visitor Center located on Mesquite Ave. Admission charge; Information (760) 416-7044, 8AM –5 PM, last guided hike at 2 PM. A guided nature hike to a spectacular 60-ft. waterfall on the Agua Caliente Reservation
3) Palm Springs Art Museum Trail – 2 mi., 900 ft. gain, 2 hrs – IN-OUT Trailhead on Museum Drive at the back of the museum’s parking lot; Free Excellent workout hike with a steep ascent to picnic tables with a view of the whole valley.
4) Murray Canyon Trail – 6 mi., 500 ft. gain, 4 hrs – IN-OUT Trailhead in the Indian Canyons located on S. Palm Canyon Dr. Admission charge; Information (760) 323-6018 Amble along a running stream having some rock crossings and enjoy the cool tree canopy.
5) Araby Trail – 6 mi., 800 ft. gain, 4 hrs – IN-OUT Trailhead on Rimrock/Southridge Road off of Hwy. 111; Free This trail climbs above the Bob Hope Estate through spectacular scenery. 6) South Lykken Trail – 5 mi., 1,000 ft. gain, 4 hrs – SHUTTLE 2 Trailheads: south on South Palm Canyon Road 250 ft. after Canyon Heights Road; north at the end of Mesquite; Free A great exercise hike climbing the hillside to picnic tables at each end with panoramic vista.
7) North Lykken Trail – 5 mi., 1,000 ft. gain, 4 hrs – SHUTTLE 2 Trailheads: south at the end of Ramon Road; north on Cielo Dr. off Panorama Dr.; Free. Most people start from the south, ascending moderately to the picnic tables above the museum. Continue on, dropping down to the trail that winds below the ridgeline behind the Las Palmas dam. Rest at picnic tables towards the end before you drop down to Cielo Drive.
8) Maynard Mine Trail – 7 mi., 2,200 ft. gain, 5 hrs – IN-OUT Trailhead in the Indian Canyons located on S. Palm Canyon Dr.; Admission charge; Information (760) 323-6018. Start out on the Murray Canyon trail, climbing steeply. Soon you see a rock pile marker indicating where to turn onto the Maynard Mine Trail. This trail is very steep and exposed but the reward at the top is the adventure of exploring the old tungsten mine. 9) Murray Hill – 8 mi., 2,100 ft. gain, 6 hrs – IN-OUT Trailhead off of Bogert Drive; see map and description in 140 Great Hikes in and Near Palm Springs by Philip Ferranti; Free. A view hike extraordinaire! After a steep climb you follow a ridge of rolling hills with views of both sides of the valley, ending at attractive picnic tables perched atop Murray Hill.
10) Skyline Trail – 10 mi., 8,000 ft. gain – 7 to 9 hrs – HIKE UP/TRAM DOWN Trailhead on Museum Dr.-at back of the museum’s parking lot (same as for Map #3); Free. A hike of extremes – most beautiful views, best workout, most varied vegetation (3 life zones), NO water, and easiest downhill – you ride the tram! Note that extreme care is required in planning and preparation for this hike since spring and fall provide the only windows of opportunity to hike all the way. Winter can bring snow and frigid weather at the top and summer is much too hot. A highly recommended description is in Philip Ferranti’s book 140 Great Hikes in and Near Palm Springs – the first section of the “Cactus to Clouds Hike” has more complete information.
Hiking information courtesy of the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism.
PHOTOS: Hiking in Palm Canyon
PHOTO CREDITS: Photo courtesy of Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism
RECOMMENDED LODGING: Palm Springs area lodging
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