I admit, I was a bit skeptical about Palm Springs. I had visions of golf courses, shopping, and old people (not that I’m a spring chicken). I had no idea that it has such great hiking. Since we were just passing through enroute to Joshua Tree National Park, we only had the chance to sample one amazing hiking area: Indian Canyons in the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, a 5 minute drive from downtown Palm Springs.
The Indian Canyons have miles of gorgeous desert trails to explore. Hikes range from easy strolls to strenuous all day affairs. Get your bearings at the Trading Post, at the Palm Canyon parking lot. You can pick up a map and speak to the helpful rangers who are happy to recommend trails that suit your interests, time, and fitness level.
We decided on the 3 mile Palm Canyon/Victor Trail loop and it was a beauty. From the Trading Post, we descended into Palm Canyon. The creek that runs through the canyon provides the moisture needed for the California Fan Palms that grow in a narrow ribbon along the canyon floor. The water was just a trickle during our visit, but in some years it can be substantial, creating beautiful waterfalls. Stone Pools, further along the Palm Canyon Trail is apparently a great destination when water is running.
The greenery makes a startling contrast to the stark desert landscape surrounding the canyon. It’s a magical experience walking under the cooling canopy of a palm oasis in the middle of a vast, scorching desert. Palm Canyon is the world’s largest California Fan Palm oasis.
About 1.5 miles along the Palm Canyon trail, there is a fork where the Victor trail branches to the left. Leaving the lush canyon floor, the trail ascends into another world, equally beautiful but totally different.
As you slowly gain elevation, the rocky, cactus strewn path provides magnificent views of the San Jacinto Mountains. The curvy trail winds its way along the side of the canyon back to the Trading Post, with amazing views back down onto the palm oasis the entire way.
The loop is not difficult, but it’s hot as soon as you leave the canyon floor, and the trail is a tad rocky and rubbly in parts. Bring plenty of water, protect yourself from the sun, and wear sturdy shoes.
Now I have a reason to return to Palm Springs and explore more of the Indian Canyons and the many other hiking trails in the area.
If you’re looking for a nice place to stay and relax after a day of hiking, check out the Orbit In.
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