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Strap on Your Hiking Boots and Hit the Dirt

Written By: Lynne Eodice Palm Springs Hikes

When you think of the desert, swimming pools, palm trees and sandy landscapes likely come to mind. What about hiking in Palm Springs? Summer is great for relaxing, but now is a great time to getting back outside and reconnecting with nature. The cooler temperatures of fall and winter are just around the corner and the weather is ideal for heading outdoors and getting fit. Here are five of our picks for the best hikes in Greater Palm Springs no matter your skill level—from fun and easy to strenuous and calorie-burning. It’s time to get those hiking boots out of the closet and hit the trails!

Palm Springs Hikes

A River Runs Through It

Whitewater Canyon Loop Trail, Whitewater Preserve

 

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This popular Desert Hot Springs hike covers almost four miles of the famous Pacific Crest Trail that extends from the Mexican border all the way up to Canada. You’ll cross the Whitewater River before making your way down to the canyon. This trail has some beautiful views, and you’ll want to bring a picnic lunch. Refuel and get going!

Whitewater Canyon Loop Trail
9160 Whitewater Canyon Rd
Whitewater, CA 92282
760.325.7222

Length: 5 miles
Time: Approx. 2.5 hours
Elevation Gain: Up to 500 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Best time to hike: Year-round

Otherworldly Desert Landscape

Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail, Joshua Tree National Park

 

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There are many miles of trails and scenic areas to explore in this amazing place brimming with Joshua Trees and massive boulders. These hikes range from a short 0.1-mile walk in a palm oasis to a 35-mile riding & hiking trail that can take 2-3 days to travel. Try the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail filled with barrel cactus and a walk through a rocky canyon.

Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail
Fortynine Palms parking area, accessed off Highway 62
760.367.5500

Length: 3 miles
Time: 2-3 hours
Elevation: 300 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Best time to hike: Fall & Spring Avoid this trail when it’s hot out.

Colorful Rocks & Slot Canyons

Painted Canyon / Ladder Canyon, Mecca Hills

 

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The Mecca Hills are about 45 miles southeast of Palm Springs, and were formed when two plates came together along the San Andreas fault line. Both hikes are amazing, with the Painted Canyon trail being an easy walk along the canyon floor. Take the challenging Ladder Canyon trail only if you’re up for hiking the entire loop.

Painted Canyon / Ladder Canyon
Take 66th Ave through Mecca, which becomes Box Canyon Rd. Turn left on Painted Canyon Rd. Ends at the trailhead.

Length: 4.5 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Elevation Gain: up to 967 feet
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Best time to hike: October to April

 

Desert Oasis

Palm Canyon Trail to Stone Pools, Indian Canyons

 

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This trail—on Agua Caliente tribal land—starts out as an easy walk past lush palm trees, then climbs to areas where you’ll get views of the desert and San Jacinto mountains. Eventually, you’ll come to the Stone Pools, a group of rock gorges that gets its water from the mountains’ winter snowmelt. You can opt for an easy stroll along flatland for the first two miles or take it to the limit by tackling the grueling, full 15-mile hike.

Palm Canyon Trail to Stone Pools, Indian Canyons
Take S Palm Canyon Dr from Hwy 111. Then drive 2 miles to the Indian Canyons tollgate.

Length: 15 miles (one way)
Hiking time: 1-8 hours
Elevation gain: Up to 3,520 feet
Difficulty: Easy to Strenuous
Best time to hike: October to May

 

Awesome Desert & Mountain Views

Clara Burgess Trail, San Bernardino National Forest

 

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This hike takes you to the top of Murray Hill, where you’ll get beautiful views of the desert below and the San Bernardino mountains. But it’s a tough trek, so leave early in the morning! You’ll have to hike other trails to access Clara Burgess so look for a sign to Garstin, which takes you to the Wild Horse trail. From there, you’ll drop down to the Clara Burgess trail.

Clara Burgess Trail, San Bernardino National Forest
Hwy 111 toward Palm Springs. Turn south onto Araby Dr

Length: 2.2 miles
Hiking time: 3 hours
Elevation gain: 1,400 feet
Difficulty: Strenuous
Best time to hike: October to May