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It’s Not All Old School Glitz & Glamour: Hiking in Greater Palm Springs

Written By: Marsela Warshaw and Nicole Fera hiking in Palm Springs

We all know that spending time outdoors in a natural setting is proven to help one’s physical and mental health. I mean, who doesn’t feel better after seeing breathtaking views and wild animals, all while getting a workout? Greater Palm Springs has over a hundred hiking trails to choose from. We’ve selected three must-try trails to explore and conquer. So come on, take a hike!

 

Painter’s Path

Bump and Grind Loop

Located in the heart of Palm Desert, the Bump and Grind is sure to give you a wonderful workout! The approximately 4-mile loop is more of an exercise trail as opposed to a nature walk. Hikers have the option to ascend the Bump and Grind on the left side, which is steeper and more rigorous, or on the right side, a less steep but slightly longer path. Hikers are likely to spot some fuzzy ground squirrels and scaly lizards while climbing the trail. Although rare, bighorn sheep sometimes pop up to show off their hiking skills.

Length: 3 miles
Hiking time: 2 hours
Elevation gain: 960 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Season: October to May

 

Living Desert

Living Desert Wilderness Loop

This trail is for explorers who crave that “one with nature” feeling. Hikers traveling the loop clockwise will trek a mountain ridge, while those heading counter-clockwise traverse a rocky desert canyon. Both options lead to a pleasantly shaded picnic area where hikers can catch their breath after having it taken away by the remarkable view of Greater Palm Springs at about 1,000 feet above sea level. If you’re looking for a first-class sunset hike, the Living Desert Wilderness Loop is the trail for you. There is something truly magical about watching the sun tuck itself in for the night behind the mountains while standing at the peak of the trail.

Length: 3.5 miles
Hiking time: 2 hours
Elevation gain: 1086 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Season: October to May

 

Bear Creek

Bear Creek Canyon Trail

This slightly-over-8-mile trail in La Quinta is a perfect place to unplug, exhale worries and inhale the beauty of the desert in its entirety. The Bear Creek Canyon Trail offers impressive views of the Salton Sea, the Santa Rosa Mountains and the entire Greater Palm Springs. Hikers will encounter an oasis at the 4-mile mark, where they can rest and recharge under shaded benches. Due to the longer mileage, this is certainly the type of hike best done in fall, spring or winter. In fact, if you are looking to be surrounded by vibrant and abundant wildflowers, we recommend making the trek in the spring.

Length: 4.8 miles
Hiking time: 3 hours
Elevation gain: 405 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Season: October to May

Whitewater Preserve

Whitewater Canyon/ Pacific Crest Trail Ridge Loop

 

Typically when you think desert, a river is the furthest thing from your mind. However, the Whitewater River, located near Greater Palm Springs, is crucial to the region’s wildlife, vegetation and sustainability. This wondrous river that brings water down from the San Bernardino Mountains can be observed and hiked through on the Pacific Crest Trail Loop, which is a branch off of the infamous PCT. (If you are unfamiliar with the PCT it is the trail that runs from the Mexican border up to the Canadian border.) The loop is almost four miles long and leads hikers across the Whitewater River, through the San Bernardino Mountains and down into the canyon itself. It’s the perfect way to check out the river scenery and get a very small taste of what the PCT is all about.

Length: 4 miles
Hiking time: 2 hours
Elevation gain: 300 to 400 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Season: October to May

 

Joshua Tree National Park

Tucked away from the glitz and glam of Greater Palm Springs is Joshua Tree National Park. This park is one of the best places to visit, camp and hike in the area with over 1, 200 square miles of desert to explore. This desert getaway is famous for its unique vegetation and Joshua Trees that cannot grow or survive anywhere else in the world. With ten different hiking trails to choose from you will be sure to find one that fits your ability and adventure that you had in mind. The hikes range from quick and easy to difficult and long— depending on what you had in mind. Be mindful of the seasons when setting out on these trails as well because the temperature can get well into the 100s in this desert escape. The best times to check out these hikes are early spring or fall when you can be sure that the heat won’t be too exhausting and some shade will be available. hiking in greater Palm Springs

Details of all ten trails at Joshua Tree can be found here.

 

Indian Canyons

Palm Canyon Trail to Stone Pools

The Palm Canyon Trail that leads directly to the Stone Pools in the Indian Canyons is one of the most popular and most beautiful hikes in all of Greater Palm Springs. It is situated on land owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, who pride themselves on the wonder, beauty and tranquility of this special place. They ask they you enter up this trail with a clear mind and open your heart and soul while hiking these breathtaking trails. What makes this trail so unique is the fact that it turns into a jungle-like atmosphere with lots of greeneries that sticks out in the otherwise brown desert. The trail will you down in the oasis until you reach the stone pools, which are usually filled during the winter after heavy rainfall. The entire trail is about 15 miles long, but you can turn back at any point and be satisfied with the beauty of what you’ve seen. However, if you are in it for the long haul, the trail will loop you back around to where you started and you will not regret pushing yourself to see all that this oasis has to offer.

Length: 6 miles
Hiking Time: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 880 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Season: October to May Where To Put Your Hiking Shoes On In Palm Springs

San Bernardino National Forest

The Clara Burgess Trail

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The Clara Burgess Trail offers an amazing, 360-degree view of not only Greater Palm Springs, but also the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains. The trail ends up leading you to Murray Hill and can be picked up from either the Wildhorse Trail or the Eagle Canyon Trail. However, this hike is not for the faint of heart of anyone not prepared for a long uphill day in the sun. The trail is considered strenuous, but if you are a seasoned hiker or looking to challenge yourself the views at the top are all the motivation you need. Make sure to pack plenty of water and leave earlier in the day to enjoy the views once you reach Murray Hill. hiking in greater Palm Springs

Length: 7 miles
Hiking Time: 4 hours
Elevation Gain: 1400 feet
Difficulty: Strenuous
Season: October to May  Where To Put Your Hiking Shoes On In Palm Springs

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