The Best Walking Trails in and Around Palm Springs, California

The Whitewater Preserve is one of several beautiful places to go hiking around Palm Springs
The Whitewater Preserve is one of several beautiful places to go hiking around Palm Springs | © Tim Fleming / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Stephanie Andrews
16 July 2020

There is more than meets the eye when visiting Palm Springs. This popular Los Angeles getaway beckons with incredible hikes that wind around the cactus-studded Coachella Valley and across the serene Northern Santa Rosa Mountains, while offering some of the best views of the city. Ready to hit the trails? Culture Trip’s local insiders share the most scenic walking trails in and around Palm Springs.

Indian Canyons

Natural Feature
Map View
This large grove of California fan palms highlight the Indian Canyons in Palm Springs, California.
© Larry Geddis / Alamy Stock Photo

Most visitors travel 45 minutes to the famous Joshua Tree National Park without realizing that Indian Canyons is less than 10 minutes from downtown Palm Springs. Just as spectacular but without the crowds, Indian Canyons offers more than 60mi (97km) of stunning walking trails through the tribal lands of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. These sacred canyons are perfect for hiking, horseback riding or a scenic picnic. The Victor section of the Palm Canyon Trail is a non-strenuous, 3mi (4.8km) loop that can be tackled in about 90 minutes by the average hiker. Recommended by local insider Jennifer Weil

Whitewater Preserve

Natural Feature
Map View

Experience the vibrant beauty and wildlife of Whitewater Preserve, a 2,851-acre (1,154km) preserve that’s just a 30-minute drive from Palm Springs. The famous Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from Canada to Mexico, also runs through the area. Whitewater Preserve offers trails for all skill levels, from the 1.6mi (2.6km) West Fork Trail to the 8mi (12.9km) Cottonwood Trailhead. All hikers must sign in with the Ranger Station before their trek. While four-legged companions are more than welcome, they must remain on a leash. Recommended by local insider Jennifer Weil

Araby Trail

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature
Map View

The Araby Trail is ideal for both architecture lovers and passionate hikers. This 4.1mi (6.6km) trail also acts as a celebrity house tour. Arrive early, as there is limited parking, and begin your hike from Cathedral City into Palm Springs, where you’ll enjoy bird’s-eye views of Bob Hope’s house, designed by architect John Lautner. Since the Araby Trail doesn’t offer shade, this walking path is best saved for early in the morning or on cooler days – and don’t forget to pack plenty of water. Recommended by local insider Jennifer Weil

Tahquitz Canyon Trail

Hiking Trail, Architectural Landmark
Map View
Palm Springs, California. Tahquitz Falls, Tahquitz Canyon.. Image shot 2010. Exact date unknown.
© Michael DeFreitas North America / Alamy Stock Photo

Like Indian Canyons, Tahquitz Canyon is also the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. While this 2mi (3.2km) loop trail within the Coachella Valley is heavily trafficked and steep, it offers sensational views of rock art, native flora and fauna and a seasonal 60ft (18m) waterfall. Want a pro tip? Bring a bathing suit and towel with you so that you can take a refreshing dip in the waterfall to cool off during your hike. Recommended by local insider Lauren Malestic

Bump and Grind Trail

Hiking Trail
Map View

The Bump and Grind Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails for beginners in Palm Springs. Hikers, bikers and runners can enjoy a moderate loop trail of about 3mi (4.8km) that begins on Painters Path in Palm Springs and traverses the Northern Santa Rosa Mountains. Let the wildflower-laden trails escort you to the top for rewarding panoramic views of Coachella Valley. The best time to visit the Bump and Grind Trail is during the evening when you can witness a gorgeous California sunset over the valley. Recommended by local insider Lauren Malestic

San Jacinto Peak

Hiking Trail
Map View
Summit view of San Jacinto Peak in Riverside County, California.
© Ken Wolter / Alamy Stock Photo

Are you looking for a hiking challenge? Then the San Jacinto Peak is the trail for you. This 5.5mi (8.9km) hike begins at the Mountain Station of the Palm Springs Aerial Tram, the city’s famous landmark. The San Jacinto Peak strikes the perfect balance between genuine exercise and enjoyable sightseeing. The elevation means that you’ll enjoy a trek that’s significantly cooler than hiking the valley. Plus, clear days may offer views of Catalina Island, while the night may glow with the very-distant lights of Las Vegas. Recommended by local insider Lauren Malestic

These recommendations were updated on July 16, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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