Length: 3 miles
Hiking time: 2 hours
Elevation gain: 200 feet
Information: BMC Preserve, Morongo Valley, 760-363-7190; www.bigmorongo.org
Big Morongo Canyon Preserve serves as a transitional zone between the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. It offers the visitor a rich landscape suggestive of New Mexico hill country. An explosion of cottonwoods, red willows, cattails, bulrushes, and other riparian species contrasts sharply with the barren desert landscape nearby. In fall, yellow cottonwoods scent the air with the musty smell of approaching winter.
The preserve is a favorite escape. Its clear, cool morning air complements majestic San Gorgonio Peak to the west. So different is this area from the nearby lower deserts that in just a few miles the visitor has traveled back both in time and place, refreshed by the brilliant foliage and colors, smells, flowing water, and wildlife.
Visitors will be amazed at the year-round contrast between lush wetlands and surrounding desert slopes. Pack a picnic lunch, take your camera, leave your stressful worries behind, and let Big Morongo Canyon Preserve work its magic on you.
Adapted with permission of the publisher from Philip Ferranti’s book, 140 Great Hikes in and Near Palm Springs (Big Earth Publishing).