March 13-14, 2019
Leo and I planned our stay in Palm Springs with high expectations and hoping for good weather and I must say we have not been disappointed. Besides all the high life associated with this town, you also have a desert wonderland. The city sits in a valley surrounded by snow covered mountains with many wonderful hiking opportunities.
Excited to explore the trails we set out on our first hike at Tahquitz Canyon. Located right off of downtown Palm Springs and part of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, this hike is a must do. There is a visitor center and an admission cost of $12 for adults. From the visitor center you follow a trail about a mile up the canyon to the summit to view a beautiful 60 foot waterfall. Along the trail there is native wildlife (which we didn’t see) and points of interest are marked along the way of ceremonial and sacred indian rock formations. The climb is rocky and a bit steep in parts but very enjoyable. There are also 3 water crossing bridges (carefully placed rocks) and some of the rocks are a bit slippery. On the day we were there the weather was cool and dry and we enjoyed this hike immensely. The waterfall was spectacular and well worth the climb.
There is an interesting legend of Tahquitz. He was a powerful shaman who turned against the Agua Caliente people. The people became angry and banished him to this canyon where his spirit still lives and it is said that he can still be seen in a large green fireball streaming across the sky at night and strange rumblings heard deep within the San Jacinto Mountains.
Our next hike was in the opposite direction at the very bottom of the desert floor. The Thousand Palm Oasis preserve in the Coachella Valley is a 15 minute drive out of town and a surreal place. The trail starts in a lush Palm forest oasis with most of the trail in this section on raised plank walkways. There are plenty of warnings about rattlesnakes and wildlife so staying on the trail is a must. As you walk through the ancient palms they seem otherworldly, at least that is the feeling I had, especially after Leo pointed out that we were walking on top of the San Andreas Fault.
After you leave the oasis, you come to a flat desert trail that leads to the McCallum pond. This pond is fed by an underground spring which was caused by seismic activity along the San Andres fault. The pond is also surrounded by the giant palms and is a truly beautiful and peaceful place. The day we were there a park ranger was catching nonnative crawfish from the pond in an ongoing effort to eradicate this intrusion into a very sensitive ecosystem.
From the pond the trail opens into an expansive view with a bit of an uphill walk along the ridge of one of the hills to a beautiful stopping point appropriately named “Vista Point”. From this vantage point you are treated to 360 degree desert views which, to our delight, was covered in wildflowers. We have been monitoring the wildflower conditions of the Southwest deserts for our trip and have been thrilled to note that this year they are experiencing a “Superbloom” an event that is rare (about every 10-20 years) and only happens in years where there is significant rainfall. How lucky can we be to pick the year of a Superbloom to visit these wonderlands. We are looking forward to more of this spectacular wildflower show in our next hiking adventures at Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley, stay tune folks!
Here is a video of our hike enjoy!