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South Lykken Trail

South Lykken Trail

South Lykken Trailhead

June 192016
“Tree Near Laws Camp”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

Paul and I hiked the South Lykken Trail in 105 degree heat which made the starting 800 foot climb a lot more strenuous. By the time we were up, we had the might of the San Jacintos to provide shade and made our way north. I discovered one of Florian’s caches and got down in the dark.



Only one geocache was found on this hike. Tahquitz Overlook
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Trailhead out of the Wash

“Trailhead out of the Wash”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

This is a fun little 8.5mi. loop that I did to get at many geocaches.  It consists of the following trails:

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I found this neat Hiking Philosophy list:

  1. Hiking builds up your immune system and helps make you more resistant
  2. to disease.
  3. Reduces stress – your cares drop away like autumn leaves [John Muir]
  4. Cures many forms of Arthritis
  5. Promotes good sleep and appetite
  6. Keeps weight down [good for the cardio-vascular system]
  7. Keeps Diabetes under control
  8. Reduces Urinary Frequency thru partial dehydration
  9. Helps prevent Strokes and Heart Attacks if done on a regular basis
  10. Hiking promotes friendship and builds up lasting relationships
  11. Fruit, vegetables, Vitamin E, Calcium, Fiber and Beta Carotene are antioxidants which help fight Cancer and Cholesterol.
  12. Hiking is good for almost anything except a sprained or broken leg [joke]
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This has been a pretty uneventful summer for my hiking both because I have been working a lot and the weather has been pretty gruesome (see Ron’s write-up below in regard to the weather).  I have been working on my maps and am looking forward to a few new hikes past Wellman’s Cienega (high country) and up Murray Peak (low country).  I have also added a number of local blogs to the Blogroll of the site and am always tinkering under the proverbial hood.

From: Ron’s Log: Drop Dead Heat

The recent goddam awful wonderful heat in Coachella Valley hasn’t even passed 115°, but there’s more humidity than there should be. There was that weird “fog” or sump’n on Saturday night. 102° and I couldn’t even see the light at the Tram. Meanwhile, the bodies are stacking up on our trails. They haven’t even confirmed if either of the bodies belong to the hiker they were searching for. This morning a hiker has gone missing in Painted Canyon. If we’re lucky, she just fell from a ladder and is waiting with a broken leg in a shady slot canyon.

OTOH, these nine vistors from a foreign land did not die out in the desert. But the Desert Sun neglected to ask how many were in the party to start with.

You can, if you hate yourself, read the comments on the Desert Sun articles where those who never hike offer up their theories on heat death in the desert. Here’s my theory: last Tuesday I went shopping at our local Costco and was quite surprised by the number of white nuclear families shopping with whining kids in tow. Actually, there were only four such families, but since the number is usually a flat zero, I took this as a sign that the season for excessively-fertile families taking advantage of less expensive summer timeshares had arrived. In short, my theory is that the deceased are not residents of Coachella Valley. The nice thing about all our theories is that so long as the Desert Sun continues its practice of leaving great gaps in the info it provides, we can all be sure we are right.

UPDATE: KESQ and the Desert Sun are reporting that the hiker lost in Painted Canyon was actually three hikers, and all have been rescued alive. The problem was “heat exhaustion.” The Desert Sun’s article includes the interesting detail that the two male bodies found on trails on Mt. San Jacinto were too dry to yield fingerprints.

“The bodies have to be rehydrated,” he said. “We can’t get proper fingerprints until they’re rehydrated.”

Maybe after the rehydration the family of one of the deceased will allow a photo of the body to be used as part of a safety education program. Anyone who checks into a guest facility in the Coachella Valley in July or August who looks like they might be an outdoors adventurer would be handed a pamphlet including that photo and warnings on hiking in the desert.

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Fern/Hahn/Vand/Vict Trail Loop - 127

“Fern/Hahn/Vand/Vict Trail Loop – 127”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.
Angela, Paul and Eric went out for a loop starting east on the Fern Canyon Trail, then taking a south easterly shortcut at the "Fern’s oasis" cache (by Cobber99). From there we met-up with the jct. of the Vandeventer and East Fork Loop trails and headed east up the Hahn Buena Vista Trail, turned around and then went back west along the Vandeventer Trail. We then finished by heading north along the Victor Trail.
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Vandeventer Trail - 22

“Vandeventer Trail – 22”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.
A nice 8.5 mile loop that showcases the variety of the Indian Canyons, this loop took me three hours and was moderate.  While there were no major elevation changes, there are four distinct 10-foot walls to scramble along the East Fork trail which makes this a poor choice for children and/or inexperienced hikers.
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Angela on the P.C.T. Hiking East (Pyramid Peak in BG)

“Angela on the P.C.T. Hiking East (Pyramid Peak in BG)”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.
Angela, Paul and I hiked up the Fobes Trail, met the Pacific Crest Trail and then down the Cedar Spring Trail. This was the day before the Desert Divide’s first snowfall of the year. It was upper 50’s to low 60’s, lightly breezy and full of late fall colors. This hike is a perfect day hike for shorter daylight in the late fall or early spring. The difficulty of the route is far easier from Fobes to Cedar Spring but for a more difficult climb, the inverse would be an adventure.

Southeast of Fobes Saddle on the P.C.T.

Southeast of Fobes Saddle on the P.C.T.

Highlights along the trail included magnificent vistas of Desert Divide (Spitler Peak to the NW and Pyramid Peak to the SE) that we were on. The San Jacintos (very clear today) to the NW. To the north, the Coachella Valley from the Saltan Sea in the east to the Gorgornio Pass (with San Bernardino Mountains, San Gorgonio in particular looming even further north) to the west was clear and incredible to see. To the east, both Pinyon Flats and the Santa Rosa’s above were visible. Garner Valley was visible to the south, cupped by Rouse Ridge and it’s Thomas Mtn. Also to the south, Palomar Range (Palomar Mtn. was clearly visible).

The Fobes Trail travels from the northern part of Garner Valley to the Pacific Crest Trail at the Desert Divide. The trailhead is reached by turning north of SR74 onto a 4 mile dirt road, Fobes Ranch Road (6S05). The turnoff from SR74 is 6.8 miles southeast of Mountain Center just beyond mile marker 66. On Fobes Ranch Road, stay left at a fork 0.4 miles north of SR74, and stay right at the signed fork at mile 3.6. The signed Fobes Trailhead only has parking for ~3 vehicles, with additional parking a bit farther up the road.

For more reading on the Fobes Ranch Trail, see Hike 80 in Robinson and Harris, San Bernardino Mountain Trails, sixth edition, January 2006, p. 204; and Hike 48 in Ferranti and Koenig, 100 Great Hikes in and near Palm Springs, 2000, p. 103.

Coming Down the Cedar Spring Trail

Coming Down the Cedar Spring Trail

The Cedar Spring Trail is a well-graded and switchbacked trail that passes through some very interesting habitats, as well as through a number of gates that divide Forest land from private property.

The trailhead is reached via the signed paved Morris Ranch Road, which heads north from SR74 (the Palms to Pines Highway) about four miles west of the intersection of SR74 and SR371, at the fire station just east of mile marker 67.75. It is 3.8 miles along Morris Ranch Road to the Cedar Spring trailhead, just past the Joe Sherman Girl Scout Camp, and 1/4 mile before the end of the road at the Morris Ranch.

There is very little parking at the trailhead itself, only enough for 2-4 cars, depending on whether you can shoehorn your cars into the narrow strips along the road. There is a larger parking area a bit to the south.

The portion from the trailhead to the PCT and back is 2.3 miles , with 1300 feet of elevation gain and loss. The trail starts at 5480 feet elevation, with a fairly uniform and strenuous slope of ~570 feet per mile to its high point at 6780 feet on the Desert Divide 2.3 miles from the start. The trail then descends 0.8 miles to 6400 feet to Cedar Spring (~460 feet per mile), which is the end of the trail.

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“Tree Near Laws Camp”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

Paul and I hiked the South Lykken Trail in 105 degree heat which made the starting 800 foot climb a lot more strenuous. By the time we were up, we had the might of the San Jacintos to provide shade and made our way north. I discovered one of Florian’s caches and got down in the dark.


Only one geocache was found on this hike. Tahquitz Overlook
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Along Fern Canyon

Along Fern Canyon, originally uploaded by Cobber99.

We went up the Theleman Trail, then over the Wildhorse Trail to the Clara Burgess where we went up to the peak of Murray Hill and then back down again to the saddle where Clara Burgess meets the Wildhorse. We then took the Wildhorse south and then the Fern Canyon Trail west and to our end at the Indian Trading Post (Hermit’s Bench).

Many thanks to Florian for the vehicle swap idea – that worked great!

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San Jacinto from Theleman Trail

“San Jacinto from Theleman Trail”, originally uploaded by me (Cobber99) on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

The Theleman Trail climbs up from the valley floor and takes you, quite quickly, to the Garstin/Wildhorse trailhead. During most of the hike, the Garstin Trail to the north is visible, making it’s way up on the next ridge over.


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Tree Near Laws Camp

“Tree Near Laws Camp”, originally uploaded by me (Cobber99) on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

Today Angela, Paul and I hiked from the Mountain Station to Laws camp. We headed to the Ranger’s Station, then south along the Willow Creek Trail to the Tahquitz Trail and to the camp.

There is a moderate elevation gain just as you start the Willow Creek Trail, followed by alpine granite beauty for a mile before you come to Hidden Lake Divide, after which point you descend down toward the junction with the Tahquitz Trail and then further down to Laws Camp. We all found the camp to be a bit haunted. Not that there are any structures or anything, but just the general wooded area gave us the creeps.

Back on the Willow Creek Trail we met up with Ryan, made a quick chilly stop at Desert View (a.k.a. Point Angela) (45 degrees) and then back to the tram for beers and football on their new plasma TVs.

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Start of Trail from Ramon Rd. Access

“Start of Trail from Ramon Rd. Access”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

The North Lykken Trail can be accessed from the west end of Ramon Road. Follow Ramon Road till it ends at the mountain, and you will see the trailhead off to the right. Park on the side street off Ramon Road . The trail will lead you about a mile and a half where you will find the picnic tables that are also accessible from the Museum Trail that leads from the Palm Springs Museum.

It is a Moderately strenuous hike, but the views of Palm Springs and Tahquitz Canyon make it worthwhile. If you are really feeling good you can continue on the Lykken by heading around the corner of the mountain past the picnic tables. From there the trail will take you down into Chino Canyon. The trail will wander through the wash and take you up the other side to another set of picnic tables. There you can either turn around and go back ( climbing back up the other side is rough after all this hiking… ), or you can leave a second car on Cielo road and you can just take a short walk down from the picnic tables to your car. The trail is a little steep here, and the footing is loose, so be careful. ( Cielo road can be reached by following Vista Chino Road to Via Norte. Turn right on Via Norte then left on Chino Canyon Road. Veer left onto Panorama Road, then left again on Cielo. Once you turn off Via Norte, the streets are rather narrow, so drive carefully. Park at the end of Cielo road. )

If you decide to start your hike from the North end of the Lykken on Cielo Road, be advised the trail is steep, and the footing is a little loose, so be careful.

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Berns Trail to the West (0.85 miles length)

“Berns Trail to the West (0.85 miles length)”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

From: Hiking in Palm Springs:

The Berns Trail acts as a connector between the Garstin, Araby, Shannon and Eagle Canyon. The Berns trail starts at the top of the Garstin Trail and winds northeasterly over the top of Smoketree Mountain until it intersects the Araby Trail. Of course, if you start hiking at the beginning of the Araby Trail, then you can use the Berns Trail to connect with the Garstin. I liked the solitude of the Berns trail as you descended into the canyon that separates the top of the Garstin and the top of the Araby trail. I was rewarded with views of desert wildlife, and some very interesting rock formations. Construction of the Berns Trail was sponsored by friends of Charlie Berns, and opened in 1972.

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Horses Along the Henderson Trail

“Horses Along the Henderson Trail”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

From Hiking in Palm Springs:

A beautiful and easy hike in South Palm Springs suitable for beginners, part of many interconnecting trails found on the ridges and plateaus surrounding Murray Hill east of Palm Canyon. Hikers will be rewarded with scenic views of the Palm Springs area.

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Sun Shot from from Smoke Tree Mountain

“Sun Shot from from Smoke Tree Mountain”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

From: Hiking in Palm Springs

The Garstin Trail immediately goes uphill, and winds up Smoke Tree Mountain with a series of switch backs. It rises to a plateau connecting with the Shannon, Berns, Wild Horse, and Eagle Canyon Trails. It offers magnificent panoramic views of the Canyon Country Club area, the San Jacinto and and Little San Bernardino Mountains, and Palm Canyon and Palm Springs. Once at the top you are also rewarded with great views of Cathedral City, and the eastern Coachella Valley.

At the top of the Garstin Trail ( elevation 1,522 feet ), there is a trail junction that can connect you with the trails mentioned above, as well with the Wild Horse Trail which can be used to climb Murray Hill (elevation 2,210 feet ), the highest peak in the immediate area. The Murray Hill hike is strenuous, but well worth it. To get to Murray Hill, follow the Garstin to the junction of the Wild Horse Trail (the junction is shortly after you reach the plateau of Smoke Tree Mountain at the top of the Garstin…). Take the Wild Horse Trail and follow the trailheads that lead you to the Clara Burgess Trail. You will keep to the left when you reach the junction of the Wild Horse and the Fern Canyon Trail, and follow that trail up to the top of Murray Hill. It is a hard hike, but well worth it, as you are rewarded with fantastic views of the Coachella Valley from the top of Murray Hill.

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Angela on Shannon Hill

“Angela on Shannon Hill”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

The Shannon Trail represents the northern portion of the greater Shannon Trail Loop. It climbs up from the Earl Henderson Trail and works it’s way toward many other Eagle Canyon / Santa Rosa trails above. This trail offers the hiker spectacular views of Indian Canyon, the Coachella Valley and the Bob Hope residence.

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Dry Oasis

“Dry Oasis”, originally uploaded by me (Cobber99) on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

From: Hiking in Palm Springs:

( actual length of Fern Canyon is 4 miles, but you have to hike on either the Palm Canyon Trail or the Wildhorse Trail to reach it… )

To reach this trail, follow the directions for the Garstin Trail ( or you can reach it from the Palm Canyon Trail… ). Once on the Garstin, proceed up the Garstin Trail for about 2 miles and follow the sign for the Wildhorse/Berns/Shannon trails. Shortly you will come to a Y in the trail, keep right until you reach the trailhead sign for the Fern Canyon/Vandeventer/Hahn-Buena Vista/Palm Canyon trails. Just keep following the Trailhead signs until you reach the Fern Canyon Trail. The trail will lead you to a beautiful plateau, which is noted for beautiful wildflowers in the spring time. Follow the trail towards Palm Canyon, and you will be rewarded with a lush palm oasis at the foot of a giant boulder, covered with dripping water and gorgeous ferns. From here you can either backtrack the way you came, or continue into Palm Canyon and the Indian trading post as we did.

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A Top the Wildhorse Trail

“A Top the Wildhorse Trail”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

One of many connector-type trails in the area, this trail gives you great views along the higher south rim of Eagle Canyon. Photos are presented here in order from East to West.

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Facing SE where Indian Potrero meets Palm Canyon Trail - south end

“Facing SE where Indian Potrero meets Palm Canyon Trail – south end”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

Some of this text is from Hiking in Palm Springs:

Length: up to 15 miles (if you hike all the way south to Pinon Pines) one way. Ryan and I did 15 miles via a 7.5 hike and then back again so technically, if you doubled back the entire route, you would be looking at 30 miles.

After walking down the paved trail that leads from the Trading Post, continue to the right up into the canyon. You will be treated to abundant groves of Palm Trees and other desert vegetation, as well as many different types of desert wildlife. Continue hiking upstream for about 1/2 mile where you will cross over the streambed and head up the left side of the canyon. After about another 1/4 of a mile you will come to an intersection. To continue further up the Palm Canyon Trail turn right and cross over the creek. Here you will begin to climb above the oasis. If you are prepared and willing, you can continue up this trail for 15 miles where it intersects Highway 74 south of Pinon Pines. However, don’t try this unless you are in extremely good shape and have proper provisions.

If you are not into hiking the full 15 miles to Pinon Pines, Palm Canyon offers many other trails that will give the hiker beautiful views of the oasis, waterfalls, and the beautiful rugged San Jacinto mountains, and the Santa Rosa mountains in the distance. Some of the favorite destinations in Palm Canyon include ” Lost Paradise “, and “Bullseye Rock”.

Ryan and I hiked the Palm Canyon Trail to the Dry Wash Creek and then took the Indian Potrero Trail which travels to the west of the Palm Canyon trail and through some beautiful valleys! It meets with the Palm Canyon Trail again at it’s south end and this is where we then turned back north and followed the Palm Canyon all the way back. Whew!

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On Fobes Trail 1

“On Fobes Trail 1”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.
The Fobes Trail travels from the northern part of Garner Valley to the Pacific Crest Trail at the Desert Divide. The trailhead is reached by turning north of SR74 onto a 4 mile dirt road, Fobes Ranch Road (6S05). The turnoff from SR74 is 6.8 miles southeast of Mountain Center just beyond mile marker 66. On Fobes Ranch Road, stay left at a fork 0.4 miles north of SR74, and stay right at the signed fork at mile 3.6. The signed Fobes Trailhead only has parking for ~3 vehicles, with additional parking a bit farther up the road.
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Eric's Peak Shot

“Eric’s Peak Shot”, originally uploaded by me (Cobber99) on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

Took a great 7 1/2 hour hike with Angela and her brother Josh. The views were fantastic! Be sure to check the map view to see our route.

San Jacinto Peak is easily accessible, as many trails penetrate the San Jacinto Wilderness. The most popular route involves taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway from Valley Station (2,643 ft) in Palm Springs up to Mountain Station (8,516 ft). From there, one can easily climb the mountain face via trails. Another method is to hike to the peak from the nearby mountain town of Idyllwild. The climb is popular and not overly strenuous. The Cactus to Clouds trail climbs over 10,000 ft from the Desert Art Museum in Palm Springs to the summit at 10,800 ft [1]. Climbing the mountain’s north face, via the Snow Creek Drainage, is no longer legal as this route passes through private property.

The mountain is quite rugged in places, with several outdoor hazards that hikers may be unprepared for, including high altitude, severe weather, steep rock faces, and wild animals. Hikers and climbers die or are harmed every year.

From the peak, Mount San Gorgonio can be seen across the San Gorgonio Pass. Also easily visible below is the Coachella Valley, which is home to the Salton Sea. In addition, much of the Inland Empire to the west can be viewed on a clear day.

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Lilly Rock

“Lilly Rock”, originally uploaded by me (Cobber99) on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

Pictures of my trip from Palm Desert to Idyllwild. Hiking the Devil’s Slide Trail and then heading back to Palm Springs via Banning. A great Saturday trip!

The Devil’s Slide trail ascends to Saddle Junction with many switchbacks each offering far reaching views. From an elevation of 6,280 feet the trail gains 1,700 feet to Saddle Junction. From Saddle Junction, trails lead to San Jacinto Peak, the Palm Springs Tramway, and Tahquitz Peak Lookout. The Pacific Crest Trail also passes through Saddle Junction.

Day Hike Permits are limited for the Devil’s Slide Tr. on holidays and weekends during the summer due to very heavy use. An alternate choice maybe necessary.

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The lower portion of Araby

“The lower portion of Araby”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

The Araby Trail can be accessed via a lower or upper trailhead. The lower is at the entrance to the Rimcrest / Southridge development (where Bob Hope’s house is). The upper trailhead is where the Araby meets with the Berns trail up top.

I went a bit further once at the top so the trail info here reflects that.

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Flat E-W Section of the Clara Burgess Trail

“Flat E-W Section of the Clara Burgess Trail”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

This trail takes you to the top of Murray Hill with a spectacular 360 degree view of the Coachella Valley and Little San Bernardino Mountains. The trail can be reached by equestrians and hikers via the Wildhorse Trail (W) or from the top of the Eagle Canyon Trail (E). To reach the Wildhorse Trail you can follow the directions for the Garstin Trail and follow the fork to the right down into the valley seen from the top of the Garstin. From there just follow the Trailhead signs that lead you to the Wildhorse, and then the Clara Burgess Trail. This is one very rewarding hike as you will have a beautiful view of the Coachella Valley from the top of Murray Hill.

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Rockpile at the Junction

“Rockpile at the Junction”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

from Hiking in Palm Springs:

To reach this trail, go to the corner of the Desert Museum’s north parking lot. The Museum Trail rises above the city of Palm Springs, and offers spectacular views of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. From the parking lot at the Museum, to the top of the trail is a good, hard, uphill hike. When you finally reach the picnic tables at the top you will be ready for a rest.

This trail intersects with the North Lykken trail, and you can hike down into Chino Canyon, or you can take the North Lykken to Ramon Road and walk back to the Palm Springs Desert Museum from there ( or you can use two cars and have one waiting at the bottom on Ramon Road ) The Museum Trail also intersects with the Skyline Ridge Route, which will let you continue all the way to the Palm Springs Tramway via the Skyline “Trail” if you want, this is called the Cactus to Clouds Hike ( however, don’t attempt that hike unless you are ready for the hike of your life . . . SEVEN HOURS PLUS ).

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Eisenhower Mtn. From Middle Loop Section

“Eisenhower Mtn. From Middle Loop Section”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

The Living Desert Nature Preserve consists of 1,080 sonoran desert acres situated just above the zoo. From The Living Desert, a hiker can select one of three trails to suit their desired experience of the real undisturbed desert. The nature trails take you through various Sonoran Desert biological communities and habitats including desert riparian woodland with smoketree, palo verde and desert willow, and desert scrub of creosote bush and white bursage in the canyon and on the ridge. The number of animals that you might see along the nature trail or wild on the developed grounds is extensive. Lists are available upon request from the Information Center.

1. The Inner Loop is a flat, sandy trail through a palo verde and smoketree desert riparian woodland. Graphic signs along the path will help you interpret the desert world. This quarter-mile trail is a brief fifteen minute interlude.

2. The Middle Loop extends you out a bit further with the same desert riparian woodland and then onto a rocky desert mountain slope or bajada. You will also experience a desert wash or arroyo and can visit the interpretive exhibit of the San Andreas Fault with broad views highlighting key features along the faultline along the northern edge of the Coachella Valley. This trail is about one mile long on a smooth dirt path, and includes interpretive signage. Excepting the dip into the wash, it is a very gentle rise and fall as you travel the loop.

3. The Wilderness Loop is for the adventurous or those ready to be adventurous. This trail traverses a very rocky desert canyon if you travel the loop in a counter clockwise manner, or a desert mountain ridge if you travel in a clockwise manner. Either way you peak at a covered picnic area at 1,000 feet elevation and can clearly see Eisenhower Peak at 1,952 feet. The path is narrow, but well marked. You will climb over, scramble around, or jump from one boulder to another in the canyon. This desert experience is intimate, the opportunities for wildlife viewing exceptional and the views of the Coachella Valley at the top are spectacular. The trail is 3.5 miles long from the junction with the Middle Loop or 5 miles from the trailhead. Expect to spend three to five hours on this loop.

CAUTION: Do not start this trail after 12 noon, the park may be closed upon your return (5:00 p.m.). This loop is closed during the summer; too hot. Do not hike this trail alone. It is not patrolled.

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Opened in 2006 as a connector trail to the Art Smith and Bump and Grind trails, the Hopalong Cassidy trail (named for famed American movie and television cowboy icon of the same name), is one of my favorite 1/2 day hikes of the Lower Santa Rosa complex.  It features a lot of variety, beginning with the short meadow trek to the trailhead that we began at 12:31 p.m..  To get there, drive south on Highway 74 from Palm Desert.  The parking area (1,039 ft.) is located on the right hand side about 1/4 mile after you pass Bighorn Country Club. After parking, follow the signs to the Art Smith trailhead (yes – you are starting up Art Smith).

After reaching the trailhead, you will soon see what I mean by variety.  The trail begins with a pretty standard ascent for these low desert treks.  You get an increasingly nice view of Dead Indian Creek (I know) to the south as you meander up.  We hit this at the perfect time of the season, just at the tip beginning (or, perhaps, a week or two early actually) of the blooming season.  There were a great deal of flowers out, but lots of blooms almost ready to give way.  This is the time to hit this trail folks.  Anyway, once up this first climb, you will begin to see a lot of reddish and often rounded rocks.  Boulders really.  Some “stacked” in mounds quite high and just amazing to see geologically.  Upon getting to this top (1,327 feet), you will come to the beginning of the Hopalong Cassidy Trail, parting to the right and visibly continuing north; while the Art Smith continues trucking west toward the wonders of the Indian Canyons.  The trail has officially begun and you are afforded your first glimpse of the city of Palm Desert to your north-northeast.

You will also come upon your first sight of the one part of this trail that will later become a damned annoyance of trail design, but I digress: a golf course.  This one more a view and never an encumbrance (like it’s offensive brother to the north, but I digress) is the The Canyons at Bighorn Course, an 18-hole course that you play on when you are too old, tired or lazy to hike in NATURE, so fine – it was pretty to look at, but is a rapist to our environment, and it was green.  It will continue to be the dominant immediate feature for the next couple miles, so you gotta deal with it.  I think that, getting to a higher elevation here?  Would be preferred for the nature enthusiast.  I donno, maybe I just hate golf somehow?  Hmmm.

The trail now works it’s way north, looking and behaving much like sister trails in the North and South Lykken’s.  The view continues to be the golf course, but it is a new surrounding from the red rocks that promised the Art Smith assent-ion earlier.  Good elevation flirts up and down and really a nice plateau from the ascent.  You will get to a highpoint for this section at 1,435 ft. and set your view of the later rise you will have to switchback out of Cat Creek ahead.  A large mass shoots up ahead of you at 1,549 feet, but it’s not that it’s just over 100 feet above you that makes you scratch your head … it’s the GAIN.  Looks like you will be chuggin’ some switchbacks in a bit.  You work your way down into Cat Canyon, then you get lost.

Hard to see the trail from a distance...

Hard to see the trail from a distance...

Seriously, you may just get lost in terms of where to go next.  Oh you can turn back, or simply walk out the canyon to nearby civilization … but finding the path ahead was difficult.  Even from a distance, it looked quite blurred against the rocks of the hill ahead (see above)  and yeah – when you are in the canyon looking up?  We spent 10 minutes looking at it from different angels (seriously) until we found it.  Even then it was, at times, difficult to follow (as you can see below).  No doubt due to recent rain water, but I still feel that some agency other than the B.L.M. (who represent the only signs posted with the exception of the end-most trailheads) should make an effort here.  That agency would probably be the city of Palm Desert.  Come on.

... Hard to see up-close!

... Hard to see up-close!

Beautiful views with Eisenhower peak in the distance.

Beautiful views with Eisenhower peak in the distance.

Stunning flora in bloom.

Stunning flora in bloom.

You’re gonna work for it up this thing.  You will be getting above and over 100 feet beyond the height you just witnessed this leg from, but you are doing it over a much shorter distance.  So switchbacks and incline here.  Upon reaching the top?  More views.  Eisenhower peak is clearly visible to the east.   The trek through this area is a real treat with stunning flora and beautiful blooms (huge barrel cacti), not to mention a good variety of rock as well.  Now, getting down from this section?  Not so simple.  I recorded as much as a 32% down-slope through there, and personally I think that’s fun.

Once down, you will be afforded your first view of another golf course, this time the Mountains at Bighorn.  Pretty from a distance, but we get way the hell too close for comfort in my personal opinion.  I mean, it was interesting if golf course water run-off and irrigation application is interesting to you.  Otherwise?  You want to go hiking in NATURE.  OK.  /rant.

Out you go, from the hills behind you, to a walk between new development (on your right), and this behemoth golf course (on your left).  There’s a gate that was unlocked when we went by, affording one access to the course…  You continue around this until you reach where you cross a cart entrance along the S.E. border of the course.  There, you see a sign welcoming you to the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument and indicating that, the monument, is just through that privatly owned, locked, iron gate.  I bet the Peninsular Bighorn Sheep digg it.

Now you wind your way up to the cross over Palm Desert.  I don’t know who owns it, maintains it, pays it’s electric bills.  There were only leaflets about the energy system governing it’s usage.  Many have hiked to it via other routes.  I wonder if they know of it’s origins.  We found a geocache near it’s base and saw new views for the first time to the north.  We could now see to the Palm Desert Mall.  Heading practically north (for the duration of the hike), we passed a number of unmarked trail junctions, first with Homestead Trail trail, then a poorly marked juncture with the Gabby Hayes Trail and then a trail labeled by the City of Palm Desert as the Connector trail.  It’s practically all downhill from the cross to the terminus of the Hopalong Cassidy.  There are lovely “desert meadows” in the stretch from the Connector to the junction with the Herb Jeffries and we noted a few joggers in here, now just at dusk.  Lovely cool down in both serenity and blue-green color at this hour.  I recommend hiking this toward dusk quite highly for the effect (also practically, the sun sets behind the range above you early so you can avoid too much intense sunlight).

You will come to the Herb Jeffries Trail here.  Toward the west and up, it works toward the Mirage (a.k.a. “Bump-n-Grind” trail).  Toward the east, it empties toward the wash below, just as the trails you encountered since departing the cross.  This trail junction represents the mother of confusion due to 1. no signage whatsoever, 2. a couple goat trails confusing the juncture, and 3. did I mention no signs?  This area is frequented by out-of-town visitors (a.k.a. “Snow-birds”) so one would think that this would be the perfect spot in the entire northern half of Palm Desert trail complexes … for a sign.  But nope.  Look to your north, down the cliff.  See the trail beneath you, working west?  You want that.  So as you approach the junction from the south, turn right, ignore the goat trail to your immediate right, and you will see that while good ‘ol Herb keeps east, you can now switchback west and toward home.  Down you go on a gradual 10% slope downward (a 151 ft. drop over 0.3 mi.), until you are behind Target® and back where – oh yeah, did I mention? … you had better brought a second car.

Great trail, great day, a must hike despite my meandering over the hindrance (and in some ways, existence) of, the gold courses.  Do it in the spring.  Be glad you did.

Last hump of the entire trail.  Just past dusk.

Last hump of the entire trail. Just past dusk.

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Carey's Castle Hike - 055

“Carey’s* Castle Hike – 055″, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

Amidst the Eagle Mountain Range at the SouthWest corner of Joshua Tree National Park, lies Carey’s* Castle, a small cave-like dwelling constructed in the 1920’s for use as a place to live while mining the adjacent vertical shaft. Very little is known about the “Carey” character.

Update (July 7, 2014):
I received a comment from Mr. Cary’s (note difference in spelling) granddaughter with additional information.  Born Arthur Loyd Cary in Kansas on July 18, 1914; Mr. Cary was involved in a number of mining claims in this area during the late 1930’s.  The misspelling of the last name has been an issue for decades as U.S.G.S. maps maintain “Carey” as a spelling.  I’m glad to correct the historical record as Mr. Cary’s legacy provides this hike a wonderful destination.

This is a magnificent hike full of incredible flora and terrain to behold. An early spring hike such as ours is probably best as the wildflowers in bloom are fantastic. The trip to the castle and back is 8.2 miles round-trip with an elevation gain northerly of 1,343 ft.This is not an official trail. It is not maintained, consists mostly of dry wash transversal, and features a half dozen rock scrambles, all under 12 feet. You can access the “trailhead” via by driving interstate 10 to either the Chiriaco Summit exit to the west or the Hayfield Rd. exit to the east. The latter is preferred as the driving distance from the Hayfield exit is shorter. After exiting the freeway at the Hayfield exit, you will see, quite prominently, to the N.E., the Hayfield Pumping Plant. This plant is the westernmost pump in the Colorado River Aqueduct system. Westward from this point, gravity carries the water to it’s final destination across the desert, under the San Jacinto Range and arriving at Lake Mathews outside Hemet, CA.

From: Colorado River Aqueduct – Wikipedia

The aqueduct begins near Parker Dam on the Colorado southeast of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It crosses the southern Mojave Desert, skirting around several small mountain ranges and the southern edge of Joshua Tree National Park. It enters the Coachella Valley north of the Salton Sea and flows northwest along the Little San Bernardino Mountains. It crosses the San Jacinto Mountains west of Palm Springs and terminates at Lake Mathews in western Riverside County, from whence it is distributed to multiple communities in the MWD region.

The system is comprised of two reservoirs, five pumping stations, 63 mi (101 km) of canals, 92 mi (148 km) of tunnels, and 84 mi (135 km) of buried conduit and siphons. Average annual throughput is 1,200,000 acre·ft (1.48×109 m3).

The aqueduct was constructed between 1933-1941 by the MWD to ensure a steady supply of drinking water to Los Angeles and now serves southern California communities from Ventura county to San Diego county. Water first flowed in the aqueduct on January 7, 1939 when the intake pumps at Lake Havasu began operation to fill the first of the reservoirs in the system in Gene Basin.[3]

Originally conceived by William Mulholland and designed by Chief Engineer Frank E. Weymouth of the MWD, it was the largest public works project in southern California during the Great Depression. The project employed 30,000 people over an eight-year period and as many as 10,000 at one time.

The construction of the aqueduct is widely credited as being a principal reason for the industrial growth of the region during World War II and the following decades. In 1992, the aqueduct was recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) as one of the “Seven Engineering Wonders of American Engineering”.[4]

You will park along the southern border of the Joshua Tree National Forest and work your way N.N.W. into the dry wash canyon system. Once in the canyons, a good map and G.P.S. track are important tools to have as your will be confronted with three major forks along your route. During our hike, I inadvertently cleared the track file, leaving our party to trust Florian’s printed map and following the many footprints along the wash floor. While carin’s assist you in making fork choices, Ron’s Log points out that they cannot always be trusted:

From: Ron’s Log: Carey’s Castle

Some people want to obscure the location of and access route to Carey’s Castle. Patty Furbush in her book won’t tell you where it is. Philip Ferranti tells you where it is, but his description of the route is (as usual) sadly inadequate. I’ve read comments on websites from hikers who want to knock down cairns along the route, which I find especially offensive. Apparently the cairn-knockers have had their way, as no cairns were visible at most of the significant forks in the canyons, although we did see many useless ones along stretches where the only choice was to follow the canyon or ascend an impossibly steep, rocky canyon wall. On our hike out we restored some cairns at some of the forks. Unless it has rained recently (ha!), the human footprints are your best guide. There’s been heavy traffic in those canyons, and they’re all heading to the same place you want to go. Even in the rock-scrambling bits you can see where some rocks have been rubbed by thousands of hikers.

Carey's Castle Hike - 094

Between these two humps lies “Big Wash”. Click the picture above for more detail.

As mentioned earlier, early spring is an incredible time to take this route as there is a heavy abundance of local flora to both view and smell. My photo album shows off a few varieties seen, but the experience of being there is difficult to describe. In addition to flora, the local terrain features are breathtaking; particularly the ridge-line to the east of the trail, featuring oddly shaped domes and towers of rock that, at times, look unreal to the eye. The ever-present elevation gain takes you from the already high desert of the Chuckwalla Valley (I-10 corridor east of the Coachella Valley to the west) to the familiar sights and “feel” of the Joshua Tree ecosystem and geology. The castle and mine are situated along the southern edge of Big Wash which exits the park to the east at a gaging station and old mining railroad at Victory Pass. No doubt, the “Carey” character would access his site via this route.

Carey's Castle Hike - 101

Eric & Florian at the mine.

The site itself consists of the mine, now sealed via metal grating and driven spikes; and the “castle” dwelling about 250 yards east of the mine. Both are fascinating to see and are in relatively good shape. A few idiot hikers have taken items over the years, but for the most part people respect the site. The castle has an ammo box that contains various trinkets and a guest book. We were all shocked by the amount of footprints along the trail and the guest book confirmed that this place averages a group roughly every two weeks. Given that the route is not mapped anywhere, this was a surprise. Worth noting is that on the old U.S.G.S. maps, the location of “Carey’s* Castle” is actually labeling the mine and not the cave dwelling.   The weather was phenomenal in the low 80’s, the light breeze was cooling and the views were spectacular. Hikes like this get me excited to explore more off-trail areas, particularly within Joshua Tree.

Carey's Castle Hike - 129
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South from Mountain Station

“South from Mountain Station”, originally uploaded by me (Cobber99) on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

Angela and Eric (PS Tram season passes in hand) went up to Long Valley for Eric’s first trip to the area! We did some caching and basically scouted out the area.

From: the CA State Parks website:

The deeply weathered summit of Mount San Jacinto stands 10,834 feet above sea level, and is the second highest mountain range in Southern California. No more than a two hour drive from either Los Angeles or San Diego, the mountain’s magnificent granite peaks, subalpine forests, and fern-bordered mountain meadows offer a unique opportunity to explore and enjoy a scenic, high-country wilderness area. The park offers two drive-in campgrounds near the town of Idyllwild. Most of the park is a designated wilderness area enjoyed by hikers and backpackers.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Starting in Chino Canyon near Palm Springs, the tram takes passengers from Valley Station at 2,643 feet elevation to Mountain Station on the edge of the wilderness, elevation 8,516 feet. The Mountain Station features a restaurant, gift shop, snack bar, and the state park visitor center. In Long Valley, a short walk from the station, you will find the Long Valley Ranger Station, a picnic area with barbecue stoves and restrooms, a ski center, a self-guiding nature trail, and Desert View Trail which offers panoramas of the high country including several peaks over 10,000 feet in elevation. You can also enter the hiking trail system from this point. The tram operates year-round, except for a maintenance closure in August.

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Twists and Turns

“Twists and Turns”, originally uploaded by me (Cobber99) on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

some of this text from Hiking in Palm Springs:

Painted Canyon, in the heart of the hills, exhibits many mineral deposits in hues of rose, pink, red, purple and green. The canyon runs in a general north-south direction, and is distinguished by sandy washes sprinkled with Ironwood, Smoke Trees, and Palo Verde. Keen eyed wildflower enthusiasts will also find the rare Mecca aster, a lilac tinted bloom resembling a daisy. Along the rim of the canyon and the tops of the mesas, squat colorful Ocotillo, which add to the serenity with their presence. Occasionally Bighorn sheep cross over from the Orocopia Mountains on the east looking for water. Like any desert area, the visitor is also treated to a multitude of lizards, snakes, and prairie falcons.

Painted Canyon is an excellent hiking destination, one that can be explored by way of a loop through Ladder Canyon, named for the many ladders that aid hikers who journey through the canyon. After parking at the end of the dirt road that leads to the canyon, walk up the canyon that takes off to the right of the parking area. After about 1/4 of a mile, you will see signpost to the right of the canyon that points across the way to the left. When you look to the left at the signpost, you will probably not believe there is a trail there, as it has been hidden by countless rockslides. This is the entrance to the Ladder Canyon (an amazing slot canyon) and how we came down.

We continues strait on from this junction and trailpost. This took us up two ladders and thru the whole of the Big Painted Canyon. At the northern end, we cut up and then did a 180 south along the ridgeline and looking down onto the Sultan Sea and the canyon we had just traversed.

Continuing south you will come to a large rock pile where you can go left (SE) along the ridge, or right (SW) on the “Alternate Trail”. Both trails later meet at a T junction just north of the grotos of the Ladder Canyon. From the T junction, you have to navigate several ladders to reach the bottom of the canyon. The ladders are maintained by volunteers, and can be a little treacherous especially if they have broken rungs. If you feel they are unsafe, please do not try to climb them. You exit back at the trailpost for the Ladder Canyon and then exit the way you entered.

A perfect morning hike!

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Murray Hill from the NW

“Murray Hill from the NW”, originally uploaded by Cobber99 on Flickr and is part of the photo album linked to below.

This loop has a few variations at it’s lower altitudes, but only one route to the top of Murray Hill. Murray Hill boasts a spectacular 360 degree view of the Coachella Valley and Little San Bernardino Mountains. The Clara Burgess Trail is the sole route to the top. Variations to Clara include the Wildhorse Trail (west), the Fern Canyon Trail (north) and at the top of Eagle Canyon Trail (south).

In my hike, I took various Goat Trails to Eagle Canyon Trail, then up Clara Burgess and over and down on Wildhorse Trail, looping back on Goat Trails.

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