With autumn’s cooler temperatures finally arriving in the Coachella Valley, hiking season is in full swing.

More than 200 trails can be found in the valley or surrounding mountains. Here are a few of the best you should try before summer’s heat returns.

Here are a few of the best you should try before summer’s heat returns.

Canyon View Trail

Walk alongside the only river that runs the Coachella Valley’s entire length. The 3.75-miles loop sits in the 2851-acre Whitewater Preserve west of Desert Hot Springs. A section of the route is part of the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail enters the Whitewater River’s floodplain, a great spot for birdwatching. Look for the endangered Southwest willow flycatcher; during the 1990s, fewer than 1200 pairs remained, mainly because of urban development destroying its riparian habitat.

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Araby Trail

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The Araby Trail passes close to the former Bob Hope estate, which looks like a giant flying saucer from below.

Take a mini celebrity house tour on this Palm Springs trail. The 4.2-miles round trip hike passes homes once owned by Bob Hope and Steve McQueen. Renowned Modernist architect John Lautner designed the Hope home, which looks like a flying saucer; it boasts 10 bedrooms and 13 full or partial bathrooms. Because the trail gains 1364 feet with no shade, you’ll want to hit it early in the morning when temps are more comfortable and the mountainside provides shade.

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Clara Burgess Trail

Climb to a prominent peak in the foothills surrounding the Coachella Valley via this trail. The 7.1 miles out-and-back hike heads to Murray Hill. Never heard of Murray Hill? You’ve certainly seen it if you’ve ever driven Palm Canyon Drive through Cathedral City or Palm Springs. It’s the highest peak on the horizon southwest of the Trader Joe’s and Starbucks in Cathedral City. The summit sits at 2320 feet above sea level, a great place for a picnic lunch.

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Coachella Valley's Cooler Temps Lure Hikers

The Roadrunner Trail runs behind Rancho Mirage’s city hall as part of it Mirada trail system.

Roadrunner Trail/Chuckwalla Trail

 

Explore the foothills in Rancho Mirage without getting too far away from civilization via this trail. The 3.8-mile round trip trail combo roughly parallels Frank Sinatra Drive and loops around the Villas of Mirada. It’s entirely in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument and rambles through largely undisturbed desert hills.

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Art Smith Trail

Enjoy panoramic views of the Coachella Valley with the opportunity to spot rare bighorn sheep on this trail south of Palm Desert. About 950 endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep, a Coachella Valley icon, live in the mountains surrounding the built-up areas. From this trail, they often can be seen feeding on acacia, encelia, krameria and sweetbush. The out-and-back trail runs 8.3 miles one way; mornings offer cooler temperatures with the added bonus of blooming wildflowers if hiked after a rainfall. Hike this route before January, when parts of it close for the lambing season.

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Cactus Springs Trail

What Mount San Jacinto is to Palm Springs, California, so the Santa Rosa Mountain Range is to the central Coachella Valley, rising high above the southern horizons of neighboring Palm Desert and La Quinta. Day hikers can explore the range by hiking a segment of the lengthy Cactus Springs Trail. This 9-mile round trip runs about 4779 feet below the range’s highest peak and about 3800 feet above La Quinta. It is located in the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

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San Andreas Trail

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The Dos Palmas Preserve sits at the base of the Orocopia Mountains.

Discover a massive desert oasis that hosts some of California’s rarest flora and fauna at the Dos Palmas Preserve southeast of Indio. The 0.9-mile trail weaves through an oasis and wetlands that sit atop expansive alkali flats. Much of this lollipop trail is below sea level; in fact, the entire preserve at the base of the Orocopia Mountains is an average -112 feet elevation. Kneel next to the oases’ warm pools and see if you can spot the desert pupfish, which was far more common in the Pleistocene era when ice covered much of North America and lakes much of the California desert.

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Grotto Trail

While the Coachella Valley doesn’t have the limestone rock formations that allows for massive underground rooms like Mammoth Cave or Carlsbad Caverns, it does have the next best thing: grottos. You can find them in the Mecca Hills Wilderness that sits north of the Salton Sea. The 5.1-mile round trip hike to The Grotto takes you through two oasis and past several impressive painted rock canyons. Warning: Never enter the box canyons if rain is forecast or for a couple of days after rain has fallen.

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Salton Sea

You don’t have to drive far to see volcanic activity. Ancient volcano flows and a still active geothermal area sit at the south end of the Salton Sea in a trio of short day hikes. Among them is Obsidian Butte, a 2000- to 3000-year-old volcanic dome that largely consists of pumice and black obsidian. At a nearby field of mudpots, water bubbles up from multiple sinkholes and gurgles out of fumaroles.

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Red Barrel Cacti can be found all along the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail.

Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail

Head to a secluded oasis on this trail in Joshua Tree National Park, which overlooks the Coachella Valley. The 2.8-mile round trip trail offers a number of panoramic views and the chance to see desert plants and wildlife. At the oasis, California fan palms rise between boulders that shade a trickling spring and its pool. There are no Joshua trees, the park’s namesake, on this trail, though; the elevation in this part of the park is a bit too high for them.

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