Avenida Moraga Trail begins in a south Palm Springs neighborhood
Day hikers can enjoy a wide trail with several nice vistas in south Palm Springs.
The 0.89-mile round trip Avenida Moraga Trail is great for beginning hikers. It also makes for an easy walk on the days that experienced hikers want to stretch their legs but take it easy.
To reach the trailhead, in Palm Springs follow South Palm Canyon Drive south of where it separates from Calif. Hwy. 111. Turn right/west onto Camino Carmelita then go left/south onto Avenida Moraga. Park at the road’s end.
The hardpacked trail – a former road – ascends above a draw in the foothills. Boulders abound, and at spots the ground can be rocky.
At 0.1 miles in, a spur heads right and uphill to an overlook. This offers a nice view of the cove looking southwest across the Indian Canyon Gold Resort.
Continuing on the main trail, at 0.15 miles, a second spur heads right, this time leading to an abandoned water tank. The knoll at the end of the spur gives a good vista of Palm Springs looking northeast toward the Deepwell Estates and the Prescott Preserve.
As the trail curves along the hillside, it crosses the draw. Here you may encounter one of three plants that boasts a distinct scent along the trail.
The golden cholla cactus. paradoxically also known as the silver cholla, usually be found in draws. The cholla’s segments sport prominent spines, and its flowers boast a certain charm with their greenish-yellow hue.
Don’t be fooled by a pretty flower, though. Its small, lumpy fruit – which often can be found at the plant’s base – smells like rancid butter!
At 0.26 miles, you’ll cross another draw. A footpath runs alongside the draw, but it’s an undesignated trail.
Another plant with an interesting scent is the dye weed shrub, otherwise known as the white dalea. Standing at a modest 3-4 feet tall, its grayish-white and hairy leaves reflect the sunlight, acting as its natural sunscreen.
Its terminal clusters of purple and white pea-like flowers bloom from March to June and persist until early or midsummer. When the flowers have died, give them a gentle squeeze between your fingers, and you’ll be greeted with the sweet scent of citrus!
From there, the main trail steadily descends.
At 0.36 miles, a small viewpoint sits on the trail’s left. This offers a pleasant vista of Palm Springs with the Little San Bernadinos and Cathedral City beyond.
The creosote bush is widespread alongside the trail. An evergreen shrub that can grow up to almost 10 feet high, it often smells like creosote, a preservative used on railroad ties.
When the bush’s oldest branches die, the crown usually splits with the new one becoming a clone. In fact, the King Clone creosote bush found in nearby Lucerne Valley is one of the Earth’s oldest living organisms, having been around for an estimated 11,700 years.
Continuing on, you’ll cross another draw and at 0.45 miles reach the trail’s end. Retrace your steps her back to your vehicle.
If you’re feeling adventurous, a rugged footpath does continue for another 0.27 miles to an access trail in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. From there, you can go west for 0.1 miles to the South Lykken Trail or east for 0.4 miles to Cahuilla Hills Drive.
The entire route is open to the sun, so be sure to don sunscreen, sunglasses and sunhat. In the late afternoon, however, mountain shadows often cover the trail.
- A spur trail leads to an abandoned water tank with a great vista.: Rob Bignell
- 03 Three different overlooks offer nice views of Palm Springs.: Rob Bignell
- The Avenida Moraga Trail begins in a south Palm Springs neighborhood.: Bob Bignell