From Mount San Jacinto State Park to Pioneertown Mountains Preserve, the Palm Springs area is home to some of the desert’s most intriguing, challenging and fun hikes.
Each area is a little different. Some allow dogs while others do not. A few are for the more experienced while others are great for newcomers and families.
Hikers looking to spend the afternoon with friends or venture to a new location can find what they’re looking for at any of these five spots.
Bump and Grind Trail
The Bump and Grind Trail in Palm Desert is great for new and experienced hikers.
Perched above Highway 111, the trail is a popular route and offers shorter distances for those who don’t want to be out for more than a few hours. Hikers can make their own route on the loosely oval-shaped trail.
The United States Department of Agriculture recommends two routes.
After starting at the Hopalong Cassidy-Mike Schuler trailhead, hikers can follow the “Hoppy” to the Herb Jeffries to the Bump and Grind. From there, they can return to their starting point on the Mike Schuler trail. The total distance is roughly 3 miles.
Hikers can also go the other direction and avoid the Herb Jeffries Trail, sparing the climb but testing their descent skills.
Street parking is available on Painters Path behind the Desert Crossing shopping center.
Location: Palm Desert near Painters Path. Parking: Street. Trail length: 4-mile loop. Cost: Free. Hours: N/A. Dogs: No Information: N/A.
Mount San Jacinto State Park
Hikers willing to sacrifice most of their day for impressive views can visit Mount San Jacinto State Park.
There are two ways to enter the park. One is through Idyllwild, but the most convenient one for Palm Springs area hikers is via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
Once at the Mountain Station, hikers can opt for a short trek to Long Valley or the Hidden Divine Natural Preserve. Veterans can brave the long trek to Mount San Jacinto, one of Southern California’s tallest peaks at 10,834 feet.
Of the view atop Mount San Jacinto, John Muir called it “the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth.”
One of the park’s most popular hikes is a 4.5-mile loop to Round Valley, which features an alpine meadow and historic ranger station from the 1930s. Long Valley to Mount San Jacinto is about 12 miles with a 2,434-foot elevation gain.
Day hikers must get permits prior to entering the wilderness. They can be obtained at any ranger station.
Location: 1 Tramway Road. Parking: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Trail length: Varies. Cost: $26.95 for one adult round-trip tram ride. Hours: Opening times vary. Last tram down is 9:45 p.m. Dogs: No Information: parks.ca.gov/?page_id=636
Palm Springs Museum Trail
If you’re looking for a short trail with stellar views, the Palm Springs Museum Trail is one of your best bets.
Located next to the Palm Springs Art Museum, the trail cuts into the hills above the art museum and the O’Donnell Golf Club. The trip of about a mile can be extended if hikers choose to access the North or South Lykken Trail.
Parking is available near the art museum.
Location: Behind Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 N Museum Dr. Parking: Adjacent parking garage. Trail length: Varies. Cost: Free. Hours: N/A. Dogs: No
Pioneertown Mountains Preserve
One of the lesser-known gems in the Palm Springs area is the Pioneertown Mountains Preserve, a 25,500-acre expanse about 15 miles from Joshua Tree.
A good beginner’s hike is roughly 3.5 miles from the ranger station to Olsen homestead ruins, said preserve manager Kerry Puckett. A longer loop to Chaparrosa Peak is also doable.
“On a clear day, you can expect to see Mount San Jacinto and as far away as the Santa Rosa range,” Puckett said.
The preserve can also attract its fair share of predators.
“For any folks that are interested in wildlife sightings or tracks, it’s not uncommon to hike the trail and come across black bear or mountain lion tracks,” Puckett said.
Hikers who use the Indian Loop can expect to see willows and volcanic mesas, Puckett said.
Location: 51010 Pipes Canyon Road, Pioneertown. Parking: Ranger station. Trail length: 6- to 9.5-mile loops. Cost: Free. Hours: N/A. Dogs: On leash Information: wildlandsconservancy.org.
One of the most easily accessible hiking areas in the Palm Springs area is Whitewater Preserve on Whitewater Canyon Road north of Interstate 10.
The 2,851-acre hideaway offers short, smooth hikes and a connection to the Pacific Crest Trail.
Folks looking to enjoy the preserve should plan to get there early since there are only 52 parking spaces, according to Puckett. Because of an increased fire risk, no parking is allowed along the sides of the road.
Two of the most popular hikes include the 3.5-mile Canyon View Loop Trail and 4-mile trip to Red Dome.
Location: 9160 Whitewater Canyon Road, Whitewater. Parking: Ranger station. Trail length: Varies Cost: Free. Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Thanksgiving Dogs: On leash Information: wildlandsconservancy.org