Desert Hiking near Palm Springs

Many visitors local and foreign alike enjoy the sunny desert climate of Palm Springs, California. Year-round sunshine and mild temperatures in the winter months attract snowbirds or foreign tourists from colder climes, while local visitors from the large California metro areas, such as Los Angeles or San Diego, tend to flock to the Coachella Valley of Palm Springs to get away from urban gridlock & enjoy a few quiet days in the sun. Most tend to spend time, however, along the main throughways of Palm Canyon Drive & Indian Canyon Drive downtown or prefer to lounge by the pool in the sun. Major outdoor attractions of greater Palm Springs also include a tramway ascending 3000 ft. above the city with splendid scenic views and numerous hiking possibilities, or a visit to the nearby Indian Canyon & Taquitz Canyon Reservations. The latter offer breathtaking natural habitats, yet are not free of charge & often tend to be crowded. The tramway too attracts huge crowds filling numerous parking lots nearby with visitors being shipped off in droves up the tramway for their scenic ride. 


To those of us enjoying a genuine break from mass tourism, the greater Palm Springs area equally has many attractions in store. They range from thermal pools in nearby Desert Hot Springs to day excursions to nature preserves in the area, such as Joshua Tree National Park to the North. For shorter getaways from crowds, numerous local hiking opportunites beckon, among the most secluded of which we find the trails inside the Coachella Valley Preserve just North of Palm Springs in the small community of Thousand Palms. To reach this nature preserve, we leave Palm Springs on any of the major access roads, such as Gene Autry Trail, join I-10 Eastbound & leave the freeway at Thousand Palms. From here a small highway links the circular road around the Northern half of the Greater Palm Springs, Cathedral City & Indio Metro area. 

About two thirds up on that link road, we find an attractive grove of date palms with the Visitors´center of the 1000 Palms Canyon in the Coachella Valley Preserve. The visitors´center is located in a small wooden service building, which was previously part of a Date Palm Ranch. Numerous hiking trails radiate in various directions from here, the easiest and shortest of which is the 1.4 mile McCullum trail. For those with limited time, such short desert walks offer a short yet true respite from the hustle and bustle of city life nearby and a worthwhile introduction to the area´s local fauna & flora.


Just outside the visitors´center many longer trails originate, which serve as an ideal scenic excursion to nearby desert attractions. Most of which require crossing the highway & continuing into barren desert landscape on the other side. A map post outlines trails of various length & level of difficulty, including the Indian, Horseshoe, Pushawalla & Hidden Palm Oases trails. Whereas the Hidden Palm Oases trail is located at lower altitude & is thus suitable even for families with children, the Horseshoe & Pushawalla trail gradually ascends the nearby desert mountains, and once passing a flight of steep stairs, continuously loops from one mountain top to the next along the so-called “BEE ROCK MESA”, offering splendid scenic views of the Greater Coachella Valley and the cities of Palm Springs and Palm Desert below. 

Most of these trails take several hours to complete and should be undertaken earlier in the day to avoid return hikes in the dark. Plenty of water supplies are also advised, particularly during the scorching hot summer months. Almost all the trails attract relatively few visitors, many of which unaware of the attractive desert palm groves awaiting them after longer hikes through barren landscape. Therefore as a true break from mainstream tourism and a journey towards solitude, peace & quiet, the Coachella Valley Preserve and 1000 Palms Canyon constitutes the perfect getaway & Treasure of the beaten track destination in the desert areas of Southern california.