One easy waterfall to get to is West Fork Falls in Indian Canyons
It’s waterfalling season in Palm Springs!
You’re probably wondering if you read that right – waterfalls in Palm Springs?
Sure, they’re not as large as those in Yosemite National Park (few waterfalls are), but they do exist in the San Jacinto and San Gorgonio mountains. Usually they only run during spring, and then typically only after a winter with plenty of precipitation – one like Southern California just saw.
One easy waterfall to get to is West Fork Falls in Indian Canyons. The trail is a mere 0.25-miles round trip.
To reach the trailhead, from downtown Palm Springs take S. Palm Canyon Drive south. Upon entering Indian Canyons, when the road splits go left/southeast. The road runs out at the Trading Post where there is parking. A fee is charged to enter Indian Canyons, which is on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation.
Pick up the trail on the lot’s westside as it enters a narrow canyon where West Fork Creek flows.
The walk can be a little tricky thanks to rocks and desert brush. The creek’s flow also can limit the space you have to walk.
Large boulders and California fan palms block a view of the falls until you’re right in front of it.
The falls is three short tiers ranging from about 5 to 15 feet each.
A good spot to enjoy the falls is between the upper and the middle tiers. A little rock scrambling will allow you to reach that level, a secluded setting where you’re up close to the falls.
Morning usually is the best time to hike the trail. Sometimes the early afternoon sun can obstruct your view. The late afternoon sun, however, often casts the rock in a soft glow of light.
January through early April mark the best time to see the falls. It typically is dry in late summer through early winter.
You can extend the hike by taking a walk to the Palm Canyon Oasis – North America’s largest oasis – once you return to the parking lot.
Note: Don’t confuse West Fork Falls Trails with the similarly named West Fork Trail, which leaves from Palm Canyon Oasis.
Some other awesome waterfalls to check out in the Coachella Valley include:
• Tahquitz Falls – The 1.8-mile Tahquitz Canyon Trail on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation heads to a 60-foot seasonal waterfall. It’s the best falls in the valley.
• Seven Sister Falls – The secluded walk on Murray Canyon Trail is a 4.2-mile out-and-back. Sometimes referred to as Murray Canyon Falls, the seasonal waterfall is a stair step cascade. One step falls about 15-20 feet then a pair of falls each plunges about 10-15 feet.
• Big Falls – The region’s tallest waterfall can be reached via the 0.6-mile round trip Big Falls Trail in the San Bernardino National Forest near Forest Falls. The main tier is around 150 feet high.
• Magnesia Falls – The 3.7 miles out-and-back Magnesia Springs Canyon Trail in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument passes usually dry falls. Erosion has hollowed out narrow caves behind the falls.
- The seasonal West Fork Falls: Rob Bignell