The Best Hikes in Palm Springs
Sponsored by Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
There’s no better way to escape to the outdoors than with a hike through some of Southern California’s most scenic desert landscapes.
The Agua Caliente Indian Reservation is home to two spectacular outdoor recreational areas—the Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon. These two areas are part of the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and are especially sacred to the Tribe today. The Indian Canyons, which includes Andreas Canyon, Murray Canyon, and Palm Canyon, is a lush oasis with palm trees, ancient rock art, house pits, reservoirs, and trails. Tahquitz Canyon is one of the most beautiful and culturally sensitive areas of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation and features a spectacular seasonal 60-foot waterfall, natural springs, native wildlife, and plants.
The Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon offer distinct experiences suitable for adventurers of all activity levels.
Here is a list of our favorite hiking trails in the area:
Palm Canyon Trail
Hike through Palm Canyon, the world’s largest California Fan Palm oasis. Visitors to Palm Canyon can walk through majestic groves of California Fan Palms and travel along the picturesque Palm Canyon Creek. Rock mortars seen along the creek indicate the village sites of the Cahuilla Indians who lived in this canyon. The Palm Canyon Trail begins at the Trading Post and provides hikers access to the many trails of varying lengths leading hikers to remote areas of the canyon. Trails that can be accessed from the Palm Canyon Trail are West Fork Trail, East Fork Trail, Victor Trail, Vandeventer Trail, Dry Wash Trail, and the Indian Potrero Trail.
Distance: 15 miles (one way to Hwy 74)
Difficulty: Varies depending on length
Elevation Gain: 3,520 feet
Andreas Canyon Trail
Andreas Canyon is considered the world’s second-largest California Fan Palm oasis. Ancient rock mortars adorning the entrance to the canyon remind visitors of the presence of the first people. The trail starts at the Trail Information Board located just north of the bridge. It leads west along the north side of the perennial Andreas Creek for 0.5 miles, then it crosses the creek at the fence and returns along the upper stream terrace to the parking area. Hikers will be rewarded with spectacular views of rock formations, sycamores, cottonwoods, willows, and the magnificent California Fan Palm, all surrounded by the stunning desert environment.
Distance: 1.2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 200 Feet
Murray Canyon Trail
Murray Canyon Trail is an easy to moderate hike located south of Andreas Canyon. A seasonal creek flows through the canyon during the winter and spring months. From the Andreas Canyon parking area, the trail leads the hiker one-half mile across the open desert, at the foot of spectacular rock formations, to the mouth of Murray Canyon. The trail winds through the canyon, crossing the stream several times for 1½ miles before ending at Seven Sisters Waterfall, where a 12-foot cascade greets hikers.
Distance: 4.7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 450 Feet
Tahquitz Canyon Trail
Tahquitz Canyon Trail begins at the Tahquitz Canyon Visitor's Center and takes hikers to Tahquitz Falls and back. Tahquitz Falls is a seasonal waterfall. The trail is steep and rocky and hikers should have good balance and be able to climb up and down many rock steps that may be as high as 12-15 inches. This canyon has very little shade and hikers must dress appropriately for the weather conditions, protect themselves from the sun, carry water, and wear hiking boots or sneakers. Those up for the challenge are rewarded with breathtaking views of Tahquitz Falls.
Distance: 1.8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 350 Feet
A visit to Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon is a must for anyone spending time in the Greater Palm Springs area and Coachella Valley.
Click below for more information on these beautiful areas, trail maps, and directions.
Photo credit: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians/Kate Anderson
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