Anyone who visits the greater Palm Springs area should include a hike or two to some of the great trails this valley has to offer. The origins of Palm Springs itself is a health retreat destination, so make sure to broaden your vacation horizons by getting some exercise in conjunction with your sunlight. There’s nothing like exploring the variety of trails here — literally an endless opportunity to get out and about. For beginners, let’s start with five basics.
Easy Hikes in Palm Springs
The classic Palm Springs nature walk located in the privately held Indian Canyons just outside of town. This is only 1.2 miles of relatively easy walking but you’re in the shade most of the time and there’s year-round water flowing between mature fan palms and over polished granite. It’s a literal paradise here, a true Shangri-La. Bring a picnic and your camera.
For a slightly longer hike of 1.8 miles, try exploring Tahquitz Canyon. This is another privately held preserve owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians but it’s one of the prettiest publicly accessible outdoor areas within easy reach of downtown. There is a 60’ waterfall at the zenith of this hike with many places to stop and enjoy the views.
This private preserve owned and operated by the good folks at Wildlands Conservancy is not too far to the northwest of Palm Springs in Whitewater Canyon. Because you’ll climb in elevation on the drive here, you’ll usually find the fall temperatures much more suitable for warmer days. Here, you’re free to explore the Whitewater River and flourishing riparian areas.
Museum Trail AKA Hollinger Trail
Another free trail just outside of town is the Museum Trail. Thanks to excitement revolving around it’s big brother the Skyline Trial, it’s become somewhat of a spaghetti-knot of trails lately. If you park across the street from the Art Museum, head through the parking lot toward the mountain and go past the trailhead sign on your way up the mountain. Go as far up as the picnic benches and then turn around or head south toward Ramon Road to make it a loop back down through town to your vehicle.
Snow Creek Canyon
A short drive west out of town is Snow Creek Canyon and the Pacific Crest Trail. Park outside of the private community and stay South-EAST as you walk past the water district gate to head up the PCT. There’s a drinking fountain at the top of this hike or you can continue south up and over the mountain toward old Mexico on a day with more time to spend. (Free)
As always, make sure to dress appropriately for the weather and your experience level. (Wondering whether you’re getting ahead of your ability level? Read our Head Check for Hiking in Palm Springs ) Bring plenty of water and hike with a friend if possible. Always pick up your trash and consider picking up the trash of others if you really want to earn the respect of locals. Respect nature and property and you’ll likely have a great time on your beginner-level hikes in and around Palm Springs.
Matthew Jordon is a Search & Rescue Member & Local Host/Guide