3 Palm Springs Hikes You Will Like

Hit the Trails this month



Palm Canyon Trail to the Stone Pools

Philip Ferranti

Lost Horse Mine Loop

Length: 6.5 miles
Hiking Time: 4 hours
Elevation Gain: 600 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

Located in Joshua Tree National Park, the Lost Horse Mine Loop Trail combines three hikes into one. Visit a former working gold mine, enjoy mountain vistas, and meander through a wash filled with Joshua trees and other High Desert plants.

The trail begins east of the parking lot. Hike two miles and explore the remains of Lost Horse Mine. Less than a half-mile from the mine, the trail climbs to a series of overlooks, then begins a descent along a ridge and winds alongside a mountain, offering vistas of the distant mountains and valleys below. The trail turns right and down into a small valley to an old rock fireplace. Continue west and climb onto a plateau offering vistas of the distant Santa Rose and San Jacinto Mountains. After hiking through a short, dry wash, you will reach a turn to the right marked by rock cairns. Trek along a flat valley, over sandy trails marked sporadically by cairns, and return to the parking lot.

Directions: Take Hwy. 62 from 1-10 to Joshua Tree. Turn right on Park Boulevard (Joshua Tree National Park sign). Continue to Cap Rock Junction, turn right onto Keys View Road Look for the dirt road directing you to Lost Horse Mine.

Big Colorful Canyon

Length: 6 miles
Hiking Time: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 350 feet
Difficulty: Easy

Hike into the Mecca Hills Wilderness complex and discover a colorful rock wall and a collection of automobile-sized boulders — bright red-orange bust of color embedded into mauve, creamy coral, burnt sienna, and gray bedrock.

Pass the boulders and hike into the canyon on the left. After about a quarter mile, you will see Pyramid Canyon. Continue into the wider canyon as it winds left. You will soon enter a narrow canyon that breaks into Slot Canyon Cave Trail. Stay in the main canyon as it narrows past Slot Canyon, enlarges, and veers left. Continue in the main canyon until you see a high relief of dark, colorful rock walls. As the canyon narrows, look for a large tamarisk tree on the left. Stay to the right and pass the tree. Continue until you see the walls of Big Colorful Canyon. Favor the left side, aiming for the large rock formations. Trace your route back when you’re ready.

Directions: Head east on 1-10 past Indio. Take the Hwy. 86 south expressway exit toward Brawley. Turn right and travel 10 miles. Turn left on 62nd Avenue. Right on Johnson Street. Left on 66th Avenue (Box Canyon Road). Drive five miles. Turn left after 2.4 miles onto a dirt road. Look for the boulders.

Palm Canyon Trail to the Stone Pools

Length: 6 miles
Hiking Time: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 350 feet
Difficulty: Easy

Explore the lush jungle-like river bottom of Palm Canyon and hike the high-desert plateaus surrounded by the soaring San Jacintos. See the Santa Rosa Mountains to the south and the desert and Palm Springs behind. Enjoy plunging cliffs, waterfalls, streams, and pools fed by clear water.

From Indian Canyon trading post, drop into Palm Canyon and continue for almost half a mile until you cross Palm Canyon Creek on the left. Pass the right fork of Palm Canyon, veer left, and follow the streambed for another half-mile unti you reach the marker. Climb up the south bank. The trail stays on a high plateau, with glimpses into small, adjacent canyons. After two miles, you will reach a wide dirt road. Stay on the trail and climb the canyon to your right. Head down when the canyon bottom is less than 30 feet from the trail. Explore the canyon bottom before returning to the main trail and back to the trading post.

Directions: Take S. Palm Canyon Drive, past the juncture with E. Palm Canyon Drive, for two miles to Indian Canyons. Proceed to Palm Canyon parking lot and the trading post. Trail head is at the east end of the parking lot.

Adapted with permission from Philip Ferranti’s book, 140 Great Hikes in and Near Palm Springs (Big Earth Publishing).

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