10 Popular Palm Springs Hikes - Visit Palm Springs tag-img

10 Popular Palm Springs Hikes

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Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll or a challenging trek, Palm Springs offers amazing hikes and views, all within minutes of downtown. And even some just steps from the Downtown Park and Palm Springs Art Museum. From rugged mountain peaks to serene desert landscapes, each trail promises a unique experience that will leave you in awe.

Let’s start with a popular Palm Springs hike at the highest point, the San Jacinto Peak.

San Jacinto Peak in Mount San Jacinto State Park

Hard
10 miles out and back.
Elevation Gain: 2,578
No dogs
Fee

Getting There
Begin your hiking adventure by purchasing tickets and taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to the Mountain Station at 8,516 feet. This is where you will begin your hike, and also one of the trills of this adventure.

Palm-Springs_Aerial-Tram_

Obtain a Wilderness Permit
Before you start your hike, obtain a wilderness permit, which you can get at the Long Valley Ranger Station near the Mountain Station. This permit is required for all hikers planning to enter the San Jacinto Wilderness and is free. Fill out the permit, drop the blue copy in the box, and keep the white copy. Return the white copy on your return.

Long Valley Ranger Station

Description
As you set out on your hike, carry essential gear such as plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, a hat, sturdy hiking shoes, and layered clothing. The temperatures can vary significantly, usually about 30 degrees cooler, so be prepared for changing weather conditions.

San Jacinto Peak stands at an elevation of 10,834 feet, so it’s important to pace yourself and take breaks as needed. Altitude sickness can concern some hikers, so listen to your body and acclimatize accordingly.

The trail is very well signed, but be sure to pay attention as there are other trails. You will wonder through some magnificent boulder formation. When you reach the Wellman Divide junction, keep north. On a clear day, you will have a view of the Salton Sea. As you approach the peak the trail turns into a boulder formation.

San Jacinto Peak hiking sign

Soon you will see the refuge hut built in 1933 that is considered the highest building in Southern California. Feel free to check it out and leave extra supplies you might have.

Once you reach San Jacinto Peak, take a moment to soak in the breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, desert landscape, and sometimes even the Salton Sea. It’s an enriching experience and the reason this makes the list of one of the most popular Palm Springs hikes.

hiker at the tramway

After enjoying your time at the peak, begin your descent using the same trail you took up. Remember to take your time and carefully navigate any steep sections or loose terrain.

Once you’re back at the Mountain Station, take advantage of the amenities available, such as the Peaks Restaurant or the various observation decks. It’s a great way to relax and reflect on your hiking adventure.

Remember, hiking in a wilderness area requires preparation and respect for nature. Always follow Leave No Trace principles, stay on designated trails, and be mindful of the environment.

san-jacinto-peak

Desert View Trail at Mount San Jacinto State Park

Easy
2-mile loop
Elevation Gain: 334 feet
No dogs
Kid Friendly
Fee

Getting There:
Begin your hiking adventure by purchasing tickets and taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to the Mountain Station at 8,516 feet. It is a quick 10-mintue ride up the mountain.

Tram Mountain Station

Description:
Located at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the park has plenty of trails like the Round Valley Loop and paths up to the summit for longer hikes. The Desert View Trail is a shorter walk with only 334 feet of total elevation gain, making it ideal for families and those with less ambitious hiking plans. Plus, this hike offers incredible scenic views.

It’s easy to find. Once you’ve left the Mountain Station and descended the paved walkway, the trailhead for the Desert View Trail will be on your left. The trail is a quick 1.5 miles that leads through five viewpoints. Each has a different orientation, so each is worth a quick stop. Best of all, this is a loop, so you’ll end up at the base of the paved path where you can decide to continue hiking on another trail or head up to the Mountain Station and have some lunch.

Desert View Trail CreditSam Miller
Credit: Sam Miller

Tahquitz Canyon Loop

Easy
2-mile loop.
Elevation Gain: 324
No dogs
Kid Friendly
Fee

Tahquitz Canyon Loop Map

Getting There
Head west on Mesquite, and it will take you to the Aqua Caliente Tahquitz Visitor Center at 500 W. Mesquite Avenue. There is free parking.

Mid Century Architectural Entrance To Tahquitz Canyon Hiking visitor center

Tickets
Tahquitz Canyon is on the reservation of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. You can purchase your $12.50 ticket at the Visitor Center. The fee helps protect and preserve the land and limits the opportunity for careless damage. The price also includes a ranger led interpretive hike. You can also pick up a map. Admission/Hours

Trail Highlights
One of the highlights of this hike is the breathtaking 50-foot tall Tahquitz Falls. The waterfall cascades down the rocks during the rainy season, creating a spectacular sight. Remember to bring your camera to capture this natural wonder.

tahquitz_canyon_waterfall

Tahquitz Canyon holds significant cultural importance to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. As you hike, you’ll find signs sharing information about Native American history and heritage. Please respect these cultural landmarks and leave no trace behind.

Throughout the trail, you’ll discover several viewpoints offering panoramic vistas of Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley. Take your time to soak in the awe-inspiring scenery and marvel at the beauty of nature. There are also a couple of water crossings that have nice bridges built across them. The paths are well maintained.

Begin your hike early in the morning to beat the heat and crowds. This will allow you to enjoy the tranquility and serenity of the canyon fully.

As you embark on the Tahquitz Canyon Loop hiking adventure, savor every step and embrace the beauty surrounding you. Take your time, enjoy the views, and create memories that will last a lifetime. You will understand why this one of the most popular hikes in Palm Springs.

Tahquitz Canyon_trail

Palm Springs Art Museum and North Lykken Trail

Hard
4.3 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 1,745 feet
No dogs
No shade

North Lykken Trail Map

Getting There
The trail begins at the parking lot north of the Palm Springs Art Museum. There is free parking across the street.

Description

Carl Lykken was a Palm Springs pioneer and owned the first retail store in Palm Springs. He was very involved with the city and enjoyed the outdoors. It was his initial efforts that created some of the first official hiking trails in Palm Springs.

The first section of the trail that leaves the Museum travels through private property but is well-marked. When passing through private property easements and right-of-ways, staying on the path and respecting posted guidance is especially important. Local officials and private landowners partner to provide public access to this area. Staying on the route while on personal property ensures that agreements between local officials and the landowner are upheld and that this trail remains open to the public in the future.

As you ascend the trail, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic vistas of Palm Springs, the San Jacinto Mountains, and the surrounding desert landscape. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the breathtaking scenery.

Along the trail, keep an eye out for native plants and wildlife. You may spot desert wildflowers, cacti, lizards, and possibly even bighorn sheep. Remember to admire these creatures from a distance and respect their natural habitat.

North Lykken Trail

It’s important to practice responsible hiking while on the North Lykken Trail. Stay on designated paths, pack out trash, and be mindful of other hikers. Also, be aware of the desert climate and take necessary precautions to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun.

The trailhead ends on Ramon Road, near the intersection with Belardo Road. Conversely, you can begin your hike here.

Andreas Canyon

Easy
1-mile loop
Elevation gain: 177 feet.
No dogs
Kid Friendly
Fee

Andreas Canyon Loop Map

Getting There
Andreas Canyon is located in the Indian Canyons, the reservation of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Purchase your entry at the entrance located at 38520 S. Palm Canyon. The entrance to Andreas Canyon will be your first right after you enter the reservation. Follow the road to the parking lot.

Indian-Canyon Toll Gate

Description
This picturesque one-mile loop trail offers hikers a chance to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature and experience the unique desert oasis that is Andreas Canyon. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting your outdoor adventures, this trail is perfect for all skill levels.

The trail begins at the Andreas Canyon parking lot, which has ample parking and restroom facilities. Please bring a hat, sunscreen, and comfortable clothing that works best for hiking in the desert.

Indian Canyons -Andreas Canyon

As you start your journey, you’ll be greeted by towering palm trees and vibrant greenery lining both sides of the trail. The contrast between the lush vegetation and the barren desert landscape is truly awe-inspiring. Take a moment to appreciate this oasis in the middle of the arid surroundings.

As you meander along the trail, the soothing sound of rushing water will accompany you. Andreas Creek flows alongside the path, providing a peaceful ambiance and attracting various bird species. Keep your eyes peeled for hummingbirds, wrens, and other desert birds that call this place home.

Be sure to stop and view the many Andreas Canyon Rock homes and historic structures owned by club members and can only be sold in the club. This stone building serves as a reminder of the Native American presence in the area and adds an extra layer of cultural significance to your hike.

The trail continues with several bridges crossing the creek, offering breathtaking views of the crystal-clear water below. Remember to bring your camera or smartphone to capture the beauty of the canyon and its unique rock formations.

The Andreas Canyon one-mile loop is considered an easy hike, making it suitable for families with children, casual hikers, and those looking for a peaceful stroll in nature. The well-maintained trail is primarily flat, with slight inclines and uneven surfaces. However, please always watch your step carefully to avoid potential hazards.

The Andreas Canyon one-mile loop in Indian Canyons offers a serene and visually stunning hiking experience. From the lush palm trees to the tranquil creek, this trail showcases the unique beauty of the desert oasis. So, lace up your hiking boots, embrace the wonders of nature, and embark on a memorable adventure through Andreas Canyon.

andreas canyon

Murray Canyon Trail to Seven Sisters Falls

Moderate
3.7 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 538 feet
No dogs
Kid Friendly

MurrayCanyon__seven sisters map

Getting There:
Murray Canyon is located in the Indian Canyons, the reservation of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Purchase your ticket at the entrance located at 38520 S. Palm Canyon. The entrance to Murray Canyon is via Andreas Canyon.  Take the first right after you enter the reservation. Follow the road to the parking lot. You will be provided a map as you enter Indian Canyons.

Description:
As you start your hike, take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty surrounding you. The trail is well-maintained and offers a mix of shade and sun, making it ideal for hikers of all skill levels.

murray-canyon-trail Sign

As you go along the trail, you’ll be greeted by magnificent desert landscapes, towering palm trees, and occasional glimpses of wildlife. Please keep your eyes on birds and lizards.

After about 2 miles of hiking, you’ll reach the hike’s highlight – Seven Falls. This series of cascading waterfalls is a true natural wonder and provides a refreshing oasis in the desert. Take some time to relax and soak in the beauty of the falls. You can even take a dip in one of the pools.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore further, you can continue beyond Seven Falls to discover more of Indian Canyons. Several additional trails offer different levels of difficulty and scenery. Just remember to plan accordingly and be mindful of your energy levels.

hiking-murray-canyon-credit-Casey-Schreiner
Credit Casey Schreiner

When hiking back to the starting point, be cautious and watch your step, especially on rocky areas and uneven terrain. Picking yourself and taking breaks when needed is always a good idea.

During Winter and Spring, there are many stream crossings and water in the falls, so be prepared to get wet! Sandals or water shoes are recommended.

The waterfalls at the end of the Murray Canyon hike in the Indian Canyons preserve near Palm Springs, California.

The Murray Canyon Trail to Seven Falls in Indian Canyons is a truly unforgettable experience. Soak in the beauty, take your time, and enjoy every moment of this remarkable hike. Stay safe, and have a fantastic adventure.

South Lykken Trail

Moderate
8.9 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 2,208 feet
No dogs

South Lykken Trail Map

Getting There
Head west on Mesquite, and it will take you to the Aqua Caliente Tahquitz Visitor Center at 500 W. Mesquite Avenue. The trailhead is just at the curve of Mesquite to the parking lot. You should be able to find parking along Mesquite. The trail ends on South Palm Canyon just south of Murray Canyon Drive. In the map above, the green map is the Tahquitz Canyon Loop hike and the blue is the South Lykken Trail.

Description
Many consider this to be one of the best trails in Palm Springs. As you begin your ascent, be prepared to encounter panoramic vistas at every turn. The South Lykken Trail treats hikers to sweeping views of Palm Springs, the desert oasis, and the surrounding mountain ranges. Keep an eye out for unique rock formations and vibrant wildflowers that dot the terrain, adding bursts of color to the desert’s natural palette.

While the South Lykken Trail is not recommended for beginners, it offers a rewarding challenge for experienced hikers. The trail features steep inclines and rocky sections, demanding physical stamina and mental focus. Wearing sturdy footwear and bringing plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout your journey is essential.

South Lykken Trail Map
Credit: Timothy State

One of the most exciting aspects of hiking the South Lykken Trail is the opportunity to spot diverse wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for desert species such as bighorn sheep, roadrunners, and even the occasional coyote. Remember to maintain a respectful distance and observe these creatures in their natural habitat.

south lykken trail bighorn-sheep-credit-Rob-Bignell
Credit: Rob Bignell

While the trail is accessible year-round, it’s best to tackle the South Lykken Trail during the cooler months, typically between October and April. The desert heat can be intense, so plan your hike early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Remember to wear sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.

South Lykken Trail

Credit: Timothy StateMost of the hike follows South Palm Canyon Drive on the right as you head south. The above view is of Indian Canyons in the distance.

Museum Trail

Hard
1.6 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 833 feet
No Shade

Museum Trail Map

Getting There
The trail begins at the parking lot north of the Palm Springs Art Museum, thus the trail name. There is free public parking across the street. Please don’t use the Art Museum parking lot. This is also the entry for the North Lykken Trail, but it heads in a different direction.

Description
You can watch for various highlights as you make your way along the Museum Trail. The trail winds through a picturesque desert landscape, showcasing native flora and fauna. You’ll also encounter interpretive signs providing interesting information about the local ecosystem and wildlife. The trail basically goes straight up the spine of the mountain to a picnic bench vista points.

One of the trail’s highlights is the Vista Point, located about halfway through the hike. This scenic overlook offers panoramic views of the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, and the surrounding mountains. Take a moment to soak in the breathtaking vistas and capture some fantastic photos.

hike museum trail

While exploring the Museum Trail, staying on the designated path is essential. This helps preserve the delicate desert environment and ensures everyone’s safety. Be cautious of cacti and other desert plants along the way, and be mindful of any wildlife you may encounter.

Always prioritize safety while hiking. Tell someone about your plans, bring a fully charged phone, and consider walking in a group. Be aware of your surroundings, follow any posted trail rules, and be prepared for changes in weather conditions.

museum-trail-view

Victor Loop

Moderate
3 mile loop
Elevation Gain: 365 feet
No dogs
Fee

Victor Loop Map

Getting There
Victor Loop is part of Palm Canyon, located in the Indian Canyons, the reservation of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Purchase your entry at the entrance toll gate located at 38520 S. Palm Canyon. Follow the road south and you will go between two boulders and head up a hill to the Trading Post where you can park.

Description
This trail is one of the most scenic trails in the Indian Canyons and why it’s one of the most popular Palm Springs hikes. It is best to access this trail by hiking a mile south on the Palm Canyon Trail. The Victor Trail will take the hiker out of the shade of the palm trees, up and onto the ridge that overlooks the canyon and return the hiker to the Trading Post making a three mile loop.

The meandering creek and granite boulders are worth a slower pace, and the peace of this canyon is palpable. Take your time to explore it, because once you start climbing out of the canyon and join the exposed Victor Trail, you’ll want to pick up your pace. This loop is a tale of two ecosystems, and this second half is all desert; it is equally beautiful in its own way, but the potential for heat and sun exposure is real.

The Victor Trail winds back northward on the ridge above the creek, offering big views down the canyon and the occasional glimpse into the Coachella Valley.

Three people hiking in Indian Canyons
Palm Canyon

Cahuilla Peak via Araby Trail

Hard
5 miles out and back.
Elevation Gain: 1,519
No dogs
No shade

Cahuilla Peak Via Araby Trail Map

Getting There
Park at Rim Road off E. Palm Canyon. Parking can be limited.

Description
The beginning of the trail goes above a residential area for about 1/4 mile. The exclusive Southridge Drive will be on your right.

As you continue hiking, the path becomes steeper and more challenging. Take your time and enjoy the panoramic vistas of the Coachella Valley and the San Jacinto Mountains that will start to unfold before you. The stunning views will serve as a rewarding backdrop for your ascent.

After a few miles, you’ll reach a saddle where the Araby Trail intersects with the Garstin Trail. You can stay on the Araby Trail, following the signposts that lead to Cahuilla Peak. From here, the trail gets steeper and more rugged, requiring some scrambling in certain sections. Take caution and proceed with care.

As you near the summit, the effort put into the climb will be well worth it. At the peak of Cahuilla, you’ll be treated to unobstructed views of the entire Palm Springs area and the picturesque Coachella Valley below. Take a moment to soak in the beauty and savor your accomplishment. Discover they this is one of the most popular Palm Springs hikes.

Cahuilla Peak Via Araby Trail

You May Also Like:

Palm Springs Hiking Guide

7 Hikes In Palm Canyons

Indian Canyons Trails Guide

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