Before being getting the nickname, "Coachella Valley", Palm Springs used to be the nest of the biggest stars in Hollywood in the 60s. Had you lived during that era, you would most likely see the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe, and Doris Day frolicking in the streets of the resort town. This is partly because of the 2-hour rule imposed by Hollywood studios where it says they are required, under contract, to stay within a 2-hour drive from their respective studios in case they need to shoot scenes with them. But we are sure that it is mostly because Palm Springs has the best golf courses and hotels on offer. Not to mention, the town has the warmest and cosiest weather all throughout the year.
It was not long before Old Hollywood Palm Springs mansions, more cabins, and more places to visit started sprouting. Indeed, Palm Springs transitioned from being a desert town into a glamorous destination that provides visitors with a casual respite from the busy city life. And now, it is home to one of the biggest gatherings of independent music -- the Coachella music festival held annually in Palm Springs invites artists from across the world and gives them a platform to perform their music to a new audience.
However, what visitors really love about Palm Springs is a natural beauty that surrounds the bustling town. Palm Springs is home to the best hiking trails that will allow you to see the town from a vantage point, natural parks that boast diverse flora, and offers the most breathtaking mountain peak views of the horizon. If you are up for it, there are hiking trails you will definitely enjoy on your Palm Springs trip.
Palm Springs Indian Canyons
The hiking trail from the Palm Canyon to the Stone Pools takes about 3 hours (about 6 miles) traversing 880 feet of elevation. Nature lovers will definitely fall in love with this trail because it leads you through a thick, green jungle-like river bottom at Palm Canyon and out to the High Desert plateaus. Here, you will be treated to an amazing view of the Santa Rosa and the San Jacinto Mountains jutting up towards the sky.
As you continue your hike, you will see a series of plunging cliffs until you end up at the Stone Pools. The waters of these natural pools flow deep and clear, you would immediately be tempted to dip your toes into it.
Since you are already in the Indian Canyons, you might as well try two other trails just within the area: the Andreas and Murray Canyon trails.
The Andreas Canyon Trail is perfect for amateur hikers. The trail follows a stream that will lead you through a thicket of California fan palms. If you have decided to camp out and are looking for a place to cool down, these streams at the right side of the canyon are the best places to chill out. What is unique about the Andreas Canyon Trail is the flora, countless vegetation (at least 150 species of plant!) that is definitely a huge contrast to the mostly desert trails. You can also observe different flocks of birds, insects, and other animals roaming the jungle-like environment.
The Murray Canyon Trail, on the other hand, has a much more challenging hike. It will take further up the San Jacinto Mountains, also going through groves of California fan palms and a couple of desert plants. Here, the real attraction is the animals, specifically mule deer and the endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep roaming around the canyons. You will end up at the Seven Sisters Waterfall -- no, not the one in Norway, but a terraced waterfall located at the near end of the Murray Canyon trail. You will have to be careful as you ascend, though, because the rocks tend to get slippery.
From the Andreas Canyon Trail, you can easily reach the Maynard Mine Trail by crossing the bridge to the left of the parking area, there will be arrows that will point you in the right direction. This trail will lead you to what is left of the old tungsten mine that was operational during the Second World War by Jim Maynard. The uphill hike, unfortunately, does not have stops at the start of the climb. You will also have to be careful because it can be difficult to navigate, so you might need a guide for this. But about halfway through the hike, you will reach a ridge that has a view of the canyon, which means you have already climbed 2,200 feet up.
After those four big trails, you should head on over to the Joshua Tree National Park to relax. You can take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway which will take you up the park. This is probably a good time to take the perfect top view, panoramic photo of Palm Springs. The national park is named because of the countless Joshua Trees that can be found here. They are named after the biblical Joshua because who lifted his hands up to pray. Contrary to the climate in the other trails, Joshua Tree National Park is pretty chilly because of its elevation. You can definitely bring packed food and a couple of tents to camp here, but make sure you clean up afterwards. You can also visit an outdoor museum which features repurposed junk transformed into sculptures.
If you are a beginner, we recommend that you start with the Indian Canyons and the Andreas Canyons first, then make your way up to Joshua National Tree Park. Make sure that you have a guide with you on your trek and that you are wearing the appropriate gear to avoid accidents.
With picturesque views of plunging cliffs, canyons, and the desert town, Palm Springs will definitely be your go-to hiking destination.
This is a guest post featured on Half This World Away.