The Mike Schuler Trail is for those seeking exercise outdoors
Sometimes trails aren’t about getting back to nature but just for exercising outdoors.
Such is the case with the Mike Schuler Trail in Palm Desert’s foothills. Though short at 1.6 miles, its 272 feet of elevation gain up and down two foothills, makes it a fantastic workout.
The trail overlooks both Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage. For backpackers or trail runners looking to get an even harder workout, the trail connects to the Bump and Grind Trail and as often done in conjunction with it; in fact, some trail maps identify this route with that name as well.
To reach the trailhead, from Calif. Hwy. 111 in Palm Desert, turn west onto Fred Waring Drive. Go left/south onto Painters Path. The trailhead is in about 100 yards on the right/west. Park along the street.
At the trailhead, you can go one of two directions. The Mike Schuler Trail heads right/north and connects to the Bump and Grind. The section heading left/south runs to the Hopalong Cassidy Trail in Palm Desert.
Go right/north onto the Mike Schuler and enter the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. You’ll start gaining altitude quickly as the trail is steep. The views of Palm Desert – and later of Rancho Mirage – are quite striking at night.
After switchbacking up the side of a small foothill, the trail heads west along its rolling tip. This offers a nice view of the Santa Rosa Mountains to the south. The Little San Bernardino Mountains and the Indio Hills are to the north.
There isn’t much in the way of wildlife or interesting flora on the trail. You will see a lot of people, though, as it’s a popular route.
From the hilltop, the trail steeply descends – it’s a mean 9 degree grade – and crosses three washes. From there, it heads up the side of a foothill.
At 0.8 miles, you arrive at the top. The trail junctions with the Bump and Grind, which heads left/west, and the Desert Drive Trail, going right/east. The latter descends to the end of Desert Drive in Rancho Mirage. This marks a good turnback spot.
The trail memorializes long-time Palm Desert resident Michael Schuler, who designed and built many horse and hiking trails in the area. Among them are the Hopalong Cassidy Trail, the Art Smith Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail segments. Schuler passed away in 2012.
You’ll want to wear sneakers with good tread if exercising. Water and sunscreen is a must, though, depending on the season the trail can be largely hiked in the shadows of the mountains to the west. Dogs are not allowed on the trail.
- The Mike Schuler Trail i: Rob Bignell
- The Mike Schuler Trail switchbacks up a foothill in Palm Desert.: Rob Bignell
- The sun sets: Rob Bignell