Spring Forward

Head for the hills, washes, palm oases ...
and see the desert in bloom

Ellen Alperstein Hiking 0 Comments


The Coachella Valley has received more rain in the past few months than in the last four years.

The result is a blooming desert just waiting to show off its colors. Here are suggestions on where to gain the best views when you take a hike.

Mission Creek Preserve, San Bernardino Mountains

Length: 7.4 miles        
Hiking Time: 3.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 800 feet    
Level:  Moderate
Why You’ll Love It: This isn’t a difficult walk in terms of either elevation or terrain so rocky you become one with the bighorn, (this time of the year some of the preserve can be almost lush), but it’s a longish foray that transects a transitional zone in the eastern San Bernardino Mountains. About 3.7 miles from the start, the track joins the Pacific Crest Trail — you can turn around, or head for Oregon, Mexico, or somewhere closer, like Whitewater Preserve (4 miles) if you’ve arranged to be picked up there.
Wow Factor: Yellow brittle bush, orange globemallow, lemon-and-white desert dandelion, and tiny white popcorn blossoms are only some of the floral sights to see here.
Start Here: Highway 62 north from Interstate 10, 5.5 miles west on Mission Creek Road.

photo by david lockeretz/nobodyhikesinla.com

Coachella Valey Preserve System.


Coachella Valley Preserve System, Thousand Palms Canyon

Length: 1/3 mile to 7.26 miles    
Hiking Time: 30 minutes to 5 hours
Elevation Gain: 0 to 928 feet    
Level: Easy to Difficult
Why You’ll Love It: The preserve is home to more than 25 miles of trails, so you can choose your challenge among 10 named options. Some trails are horse- and dog-hospitable, others are for two-leggers only. Opt for a guided hike, or grab a trail map at the tiny Palm House visitor’s center, and follow your nose.
Wow Factor: Look for lavender phacelia, gold desert poppies, pink desert five spot, and the delicate purple blossoms of the desert sand verbena, among others.
Start Here: Ramon Road to Thousand Palms Canyon Road north to the visitor’s center parking lot.

photo by david lockeretz/nobodyhikesinla.com

Mainderhair Falls in Borrego Springs.

Maidenhair Falls, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Length: 5.2 miles        
Hiking Time: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet    
Level: Moderate
Why You’ll Love It: Start your engine with an easy entrée to a somewhat challenging trek through a range of desert terrain — washes, rock outcroppings, palm groves, cacti, ferns, and the craggy face of Hellhole Canyon. To reap the full reward of a watery climax, plan your hike this month.
Wow Factor:  A calf-deep dip into the pool reinvigorates your legs for the return trip, but a full-body shower from the 20-foot falls is epic … especially on a hot day.
Start Here: Route S22 (Montezuma Valley Road) in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs.

photo by david lockeretz/nobodyhikesinla.com

San Jacinto Peak.

San Jacinto Peak from the Seven Pines Trail

Length:  3.8 miles        
Hiking Time: 10 hours
Elevation Gain: 5,000 feet    
Level: Difficult
Why You’ll Love It: This trail can be tough to follow — you must be fit and possessed of scrambling and orienteering skills — and you can expect to encounter snow, but summit views of San Gorgonio, Tahquitz Peak, the Coachella Valley, and, if you’re lucky, the Pacific Ocean are worth the effort. The trail is isolated, ascends steeply, and you cross the San Jacinto River a couple of times over the course of a few miles. From the Idyllwild side, drive toward Dark Canyon and look for the Seven Pines dirt road (get a National Forest Service pass to park at the trailhead from the Idyllwild ranger station).
Wow Factor: Smaller streams, depending on when you go, could be swollen beyond their normal modest trickle at these higher elevations. But perseverance should be rewarded with waterfalls about a mile after separating from the Pacific Crest Trail.
Start Here: Highway 243 north from Idyllwild to Forest Road 4S03.

Spring Forward was last modified: May 21st, 2016 by Ellen Alperstein

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