Hikers can walk the edge one of the Coachella Valley’s famous coves on the Bear Creek Urban Trail in LaQuinta.
The smooth Bear Creek Urban Trail runs up to 5.3 miles round trip. Along the way, it briefly enters the Fred Wolff Nature Preserve and for much of the entire way borders the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.
To reach the trailhead, from Hwy. 111 in La Quinta, take Washington Street south. Next, turn right/west onto Eisenhower Drive. At Avenida Bermudas, go right/southwest; be aware that the street name changes to Calle Tectate. Turn left/south into the parking lot for the Cove, which is directly across the street from Avenida Ramirez.
From the lot, follow the sidewalk along Calle Tectate. Martinez Mountain looms on the southern horizon.
In about 0.37 miles when the road curves right/north, you’ll spot the sign for the Bear Creek Trailhead to the left/south.
The trail heads through a wash and then curls north as it meets and follows Bear Creek. To prevent flooding and erosion, the creek banks has been paved over. Still, there are plenty of palm trees, a variety of shrubs that usually flower in spring, a few roadrunners, and great views of the mountains to make for a pretty walk.
Neighboring a residential section, the trail is fairly quiet as it follows the west edge of La Quinta Cove. Several dirt footpaths head to the residences all along the route.
Among the many appeals of the Coachella Valley are its numerous coves, which provide greater protection from wind and sandstorms than the valley’s open center. Many of the Coachella Valley’s first resorts and residential areas were built in these pockets, which offers the added bonus of beautiful lighting that varies during the day as the sun reflects off the mountains.
Technically, a cove on land is a valley between two ridgelines that usually is closed at one end. With the San Andreas Fault, the Coachella Valley is an ideal location for land coves to form. As rock is thrust upward from one continental plate over another plate, erosion can form large valley-like bowls into the softer material. Geologists call these bowls “windows.” Erosion expands these windows so that they join the larger valley that the rock was thrust over.
Often floodwater rushing off the neighboring ridge lines over time widens the cove and flattens its floor while leaving an alluvial fan at one end.
Just north of Calle Durango, the trail separates from Bear Creek and curves northeast. Along the way, it crosses Avenida Madero and essentially becomes a sidewalk in the residential area. That crossing marks a good spot to turn back; at this point, the hike is 3.8 miles round trip. If continuing on, the trail ends at the Eisenhower Drive and Calle Tampico intersection for an additional two miles round-trip of walking.
Almost all of the trail is exposed to the sun during the day, so be sure to don a brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trail.