Sunday, April 16, 2017

Picture-Perfect Hiking in the Coachella Valley

During our six weeks in Desert Hot Springs, we have been surrounded by glorious hiking trails that meander through sandy deserts, up rocky mountains, through narrow canyons, along high ridges, beside mountain streams, and under the shade of palm oasis. Our time here has also coincided with a spectacular spring wildflower "superbloom". Yes, I have been a happy camper when Doug would say, "OK, where do we hike today?" 

I apologize in advance for this long blog.
So many vistas ... so many wildflowers ... so many great hiking opportunities ... so many pictures ... So grab a cold one, put your feet up and enjoy!

... or take a nap!

Without further ado, here is a not-so-brief summary showing some of our favorite hikes and photos in and around the Coachella Valley of southern California. Click on the name of each trail to get to the link on "All Trails" if you are interested in learning more about the individual trails.

The Coachella Valley is surrounded by mountains on three sides
and the Salton Sea to the south.
The San Andreas Fault runs through the middle of the valley.

Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness near Idyllwild
An hour drive and 4000+ elevation change brought us to a mountain hiking paradise.

Magnificent view of Tahquitz Peak from our
starting location at Humber Park.
5 miles and 1637 feet of elevation later ... our rewarding view!
Not many wildflowers seen trying to
pop through the snow pack near the top of the trail,
... but the many small waterfalls were enchanting!

We started out walking along the tall pine trees,
but since we didn't have a wilderness hiking
permit, we only ventured up about 1.5 miles
... high enough to come upon some snow,
... and enjoy some spectacular views!

Take the Palm Springs Tram up to
Mount San Jacinto State Park ...
and walk with a friend through the snow and tall pines

 ... to enjoy the view of the cities and valley below!

Anza Borrego State Park
An hour and a half south of us is California's largest State Park and the scene of a massive rush of people to experience the "super bloom". Of course, we had to join in!

It was great fun to meet up with some Minnesota friends
during a day trip to Anza Borrego State Park!

Our hike took us through this beautiful canyon,

... past blooming wildflowers like
these Apricot Mellows,

... and to the perfect resting place for our "oasis" lunch.

The bighorn sheep in the hills even knew
how to put the finishing touch on this "picture perfect" hike!

Whitewater Preserve
With the same name as my favorite Minnesota state park, I knew I had to visit the California version of Whitewater!

20 miles west of us, the Pacific Crest Trail
intersects the Whitewater Preserve
Canyon View Loop Trail ...
... so I was able to accomplish a "bucket-list" item
by taking a hike on the PCT. Even met up with some official
PCT hikers making their way from the Mexican border to Canada!
The brittle bush was in full bloom filling the eastern mountainsides
with its magnificent blanket of yellow!

Two of my favorite hiking views ... snow-capped mountains,

...and Beavertail Cactus in bloom!

Coachella Valley Preserve - Thousand Palms Oasis
Just 10 miles down the road from us was this magnificent (and free) oasis!

From my first glimpse of the California Fan Palm oasis ...
... I was hooked!
 We hiked at the Coachella Preserve often.
Each visit brought the discovery of new wildflowers,
... and friendly creatures,
... and magnificent views!

Indian Canyons
The ancestral home sacred to the Cahuilla Indians provides tranquil hiking paths through oasis, canyons and desert mountain trails.

Indians Canyons is a beautiful recreational area near Palm Springs
located on the land of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
The $9 per person entrance fee was a great bargain
considering the amazing hiking beauty that we discovered!

You know how much I love oasis,

... and mountain views,
... and Whispering Bells,

... and Rose Mallows,

... and Dune Sunflowers,

... and blooming Barrel Cactus!

Santa Rosa Wilderness
A national monument that provides access to the natural beauty of the wilderness on the outskirts of Palm Desert.

Early in March, we hiked the Art Smith Trail
which led us into the Santa Rosa wilderness.
We hiked past some wildflowers just starting to peek
out from around the rocks,
... while others, like the Arizona Lupine,
stretched tall to greet us.

Our three mile hike brought us to one of our
first views of the valley below,
... as well as a peaceful oasis.

Palm Desert Trails
A short drive into Palm Desert gave us access to many amazing hikes in the surrounding foothills.

Fun afternoon hikes could be found right in the foothills
... above the city of Palm Desert.
The hillsides were covered with white Fremont Pincushions

... and the delicate beauty of the Desert Five-Spot.

The popular Cross Trail led us and numerous other hikers up to
the cross on the peak in the distance,
... but we enjoyed taking "the path less traveled"
back down into the quiet canyon on the other side.

For the price of admission to the Living Desert Zoo
we could enjoy the newborn animals checking out the visitors
... and take a five mile hike,
... for a spectacular view.
We could also find that new "darn, it is not on my
flower identification guide" wildflower.
But fear not,
the "wildflower detectives" have got this new one figured out!
It's the Desert Rock Pea.

Joshua Tree National Park
During our six weeks in the area, we were able to make three trips to Joshua Tree National Park. I was happy to make good use of the "America The Beautiful Pass" that I bought for $80 in January, as each visit would have cost us $25. During each trip we were able to explore different trails and see the wildflowers in different stages of bloom. 

Hiking up to the highest point in Joshua Tree National Park
... while enjoying the Teddy Bear Cholla in bloom.
Gained 1000 feet in elevation,
... for spectacular 360 degree views of the park below.

Passing by some stately Joshua Trees,

... and delicate white Desert Chicory
and yellow Wallace's Eriophyllum,

... we enjoyed some panoramic beauty!

Climbing over a few boulders, we found ourselves
in an enchanted Hidden Valley

... where the Joshua Trees were bursting
forth their spring blooms!

Drives through the Park

We found more wildflower beauty
as we drove through
Joshua Tree National Park

... with the Ocotillo in bloom

... and a new wildflower growing along the road.

The Jimson Weed sure doesn't look "weedy" to me!

Hiking In Our "Neighborhood"
While all the previous hikes did require a bit of a drive, we enjoyed the fact that we could also experience "picture-perfect" moments
while hiking in the desert, canyons and foothills right across the street from our home at Sam's Family Spa.

"Flag" Trail

You see that flag waaaay up there?

Well, Doug has been trying to hike up to it
ever since he heard about it from our friend John.
So I took him up on the deal
(when has Doug ever had me turn down a hike??!!)
... and enjoyed seeing the blooms of my favorite desert flower,
the delicate Blazing Star, on the way up.
Can you pick out the Wildebeest down below?

Canyon trails

Following the ATV and horse trails through the desert
... not only gave us beautiful sunset views,

... and widespread views of the Desert Dandelion bloom,
... but also lead us into the canyons.
Now there were times when Doug REALLY wanted to see
how far back we could climb through the canyon,
and I had to be the voice of reason!

 Lots of hikes, lots of pictures, lots of beauty, lots of fun times to remember ... Yes, we enjoyed our six weeks of picture-perfect hiking in the Coachella Valley.  

So are you still with us?? Good because we saved the best for last! 

Because even more "picture perfect" is the way that the palm oasis, newborn animals and blossoming wildflowers remind us of God's promise of new life this Easter!

My Desert "Easter" Lily

Until next time ... bloom with Easter Joy ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

Thanks ... We appreciate your continued friendship as you follow along on RVentures!
Easter Blessings to you and your family!

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