Whenever we are in the Palm Springs area we are always looking out for new places to hike and explore. Our regular favourite destinations include as the Coachella Valley Preserve in 29 Palms, the Palms to Pines Highway, Morongo Valley, Joshua Tree National Park and the Living Desert.
On our last Palm Springs visit we discovered a new hiking location, the Indian Canyons. On our most recent trip, we landed at the Palm Springs airport around noon and had a few hours before we could check in so we decided to revisit the Indian Canyons as they were not too far from the airport.
In fact, the Indian Canyons are easily reached from downtown Palm Springs by travelling south on Palm Canyon Drive South, also known as Highway 111B. When Highway 111B eventually turns east, becoming Palm Canyon Drive East, you need to turn off of 111B to continue south on Palm Canyon Drive South (now a more residential road).
Confusing? Just stay to the right and keep going South.
Eventually you will reach the entrance to the Indian Canyons which lies on tribal lands of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. An entrance fee is required to continue. It is not much further that the road comes to an end as a bunch of parking lots and a visitor centre called The Trading Post which has toilets, souvenirs, knowledgeable staff ready to answer questions and useful hiking stuff like sun-hats for those who (like me) left theirs at home.
For those who enjoy watching hummingbirds, there are several hummingbird feeders that always seem to have lots of activity. See my previous post: Hummingbirds at the Indian Canyons Trading Post.
For those coming to hike, some good trail maps can be found online at this Indian Canyons web site.
Fire and Flood
2013 saw some extremely heavy September rains in and around the Coachella Valley. The Indian Canyons was one of the areas that suffered damage from flash floods resulting from these storms. In this case the problem was worsened by a July fire that damaged some 6000 acres of the Agua Caliente tribal lands. After the flooding, access to the Indian Canyons was closed indefinitely. Lucky for us, access was restored in mid-November.
Palm Canyon Trail
The Trading Post sits protected from flash floods on a small ridge overlooking part of the oasis running along the Palm Canyon Creek. A switchback path providing access to the trail. After watching the hummingbirds for a while and buying a sun-hat we hiked down to the canyon floor and into the world’s largest native oasis of Desert Fan Palms (Washingtonia filifera), also know as California Palms. We continued up the trail into the 15 mile long canyon. Here are a few pictures taken along the way.
At several points along the trail you can see all the way back to the Trading Post. Here is one such view showing the extent of the oasis along the creek. The San Jacinto mountains are rising on the left.
At one of the high points we got a good view looking northward towards Palm Springs. You can clearly see some of the wind farms north of the city. In the distance is, I believe, the southern end of the San Bernardino Mountains.
The Palm-Canyon/Victor trail was a short loop of only about 4 miles yet, because of the elevation gains on the Victor Trail portions is rated as moderately strenuous. We hiked it in January and took no special precautions other than carrying water (and I had my new sun-hat). Because of the time of year we were also not too concerned with potential animal threats such as rattlesnakes, scorpions or tarantulas. Anyone hiking these trails during warmer times of the year should take the appropriate precautions.