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7 Hikes In Palm Canyons

Group walking in the Indian Canyons

All these hikes begin at the Palm Canyons Trail located at the Trading Post.

palm canyon trail

Enter Indian Canyons via South Palm Canyon Drive and follow the signs to Indian Canyons. From downtown stay to the right on South Palm Canyon when the road curves left to East Palm Canyon. The tollgate is at 38520 S. Palm Canyon Drive, just a couple miles further. From the tollgate, proceed 2.5 miles to the Palm Canyon parking lot where the trading post is located high on a ridge. There is a nice vista view of the city from this vantage point. A trail map is available at the tollgate. Online Trail Guide

Note: There is a fee for entrance into Indian Canyons. You can purchase tickets in advance.

Palm canyon entrance
To Palm Canyon Trading Post

1 – Fern Canyon Trail

3.5 Miles, Moderate Fern Canyon Map

The trail begins to the left of Palm Canyon Trail. It turns right and crosses over Palm Canyon Creek. After 1 mile, you will reach the area where ferns grow, especially in a wet winter. It offers great views of the South Palm Canyon near Hermit’s Bench and good vistas of Palm Springs and San Jacinto Mountains.

You can hike back to the trading post for an out and back hike, or you can access Vanderventer Trail and the Hahn Buena Vista Trail from the Fern Canyon Trail for a longer scenic hike loop.

fern canyon trail

2  – Palm Canyon Trail to the Stone Pools

6 miles, Moderate, Palm Canyon to Stone Pools Map

Drop down into Palm Canyon from the trading post and continue south for about a half mile until you cross the Palm Canyon Creek to your left. Follow the creek another .5 miles until you reach the marker indicating the trail crosses the stream and climbs up the south bank. Soon the trail will open to a magnificent view of the canyons.

Hike 2 miles and you will reach a dirt wash road. Take the trail straight ahead rather than following with wash. Follow the trail 1 mile and you will arrive at a place where the trail begins to fade into the sandy rock, but remains visible. Turn right toward the canyon bottom and it will lead you to an area known at the Stone Pools along Palm Canyon Creek.

In a wet year, water flows freely and deep, often creating a series of small pools. In a dry year, water is sporadic.

stone pools credit Brian Dearth
Credit: Brian Dearth

3 – Lower Palm Canyon Trail

4 miles, Easy, Lower Palm Canyon Trail Map

For the first .75 mile your will be hiking just above the creek. Enjoy the incredible concentration of palm trees, cottonwoods, and desert plants. The trail will then drop down to the creek and cross over to the left. In a wet year, the water in the creek can be high.

This is a great introduction to desert hiking requiring only modest effort. For longer and more strenuous hikes, hike through the palm groves and connect with the Victor or Palm Canyon Trail.

4 – Victor Trail / Fern Canyon

2.5 – 5 miles, Easy Victor Trail Map

victor trail palm canyon

Head down the Palm Canyon trail, hike .5 miles, and cross over the creek. In another .5 miles, you will see the Victor Trail. You can hike up the hill to your left and see great views of Palm Canyon below and mountains in the distance. After 1 mile, you will drop back down into Palm Canyon and follow the stream back to the trading post.

Another option is to continue north until you reach the sign for the Fern Canyon Trail. This hike is great to do when the water is flowing because you will see the giant ferns that inhabit the area. Then just turn around and head back to the post for an out and back hike.

5 – East Fork / Fern Canyon Loop Trail

7.5 miles, Moderate, East Fork Trail Map

This hike takes you into the backcountry east of Palm Canyon. Follow Palm Canyon Trail for .5 miles and cross over the creek. Continue east at the junction and it becomes the East Fork Trail. For the next 2 miles you will be walking in a sandy bottom canyon, steadily gaining elevation until you reach the Vanderventer Trail. Then turn left and hike 2 more miles along a ridge that occasionally drops into and out of small washes and canyons. Follow the signs toward Fern Canyon and the trading post.

east fork loop trail

6 – West Fork Trail to Andreas Canyon

10 miles, Experienced, West Fork Trail Map

Car shuttle required – This hike ends in Andreas Canyon, not back to the Palm Canyon trading post.

The West Fork Trail climbs steadily upward out of Palm Canyon toward the Pacific Crest Trail and Desert Divide, 6,000 feet above the valley floor. Look for the signpost, which marks the beginning of the trail. This trail is steep and strenuous, so be prepared, take plenty of water, and avoid hiking on hot days.

After 2 miles, take the trail to the right. This will lead you to a stream. As you continue, you will emerge overlooking Murray Canyon. The trail then descends and crosses several streams. The trail eventually joins with Murray Canyon and onto Andreas Canyon.

west for trail palm canyon

7 – Palm Canyon to Indian Potrero

9 miles, Moderate, Palm Canyon to Indian Potrero Map

Head down the Palm Canyon trail and head toward the large grove of palms and picnic tables to the south. Follow the creek for .5 miles, cross over, and walk along the canyon bottom. In about another .5 miles you will see a sign for the Indian Potrero Trail. Cross over and begin to climb to the wide-open views of the canyon and mountains.

In the winter, there is a generous stream to enjoy. The trail eventually meets back up with the Palm Canyon Trail and you can return on the same trail.

Indian potrero palm canyon

By Randy Garner

Hikes In Palm Springs

Palm Springs Hiking Guide

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