Cathedral Trail heads 900-plus feet into the foothills overlooking Cathedral City.

Drink in Great Views from Cathedral Trail

The Cathedral Trail heads 900+ feet into the foothills overlooking Cathedral City.

Day hikers can enjoy great views of Cathedral City and the northern Coachella Valley on the Cathedral Trail.

The 3.6 miles round trip hike runs through the Cathedral City’s foothills. It sports an elevation gain of 920 feet.

To reach the trailhead, from Calif. Hwy 111/East Palm Canyon Drive, turn south onto Cathedral Canyon Drive. Go right/west onto Terrace Road then left/south onto Charlesworth Drive. Next, turn right/west onto Valley Vista Drive then left/south on Elna Way. Lastly, go left/southeast onto Foothill Road. Park at the end of the street, which is the Cathedral Canyon Trailhead.

Drink in Great Views from Cathedral Trail

Cathedral Trail topo map. The trail is in yellow while the Dunn Trail is in green.

The trail heads south just above the Cathedral City Cove East Wash. You’re at about 720 feet elevation.

Before reaching the water tanks, a narrow trail splits to the right/west. Take that and go around the pass water tanks, which at first will be above you and then to your left/east.

Next the trail veers east and runs atop a ridgeline. While the trail is narrow, so along as you stay on it you need not worry about cactus thorns scratching you.

The trail soon descends the ridge and then switchbacks up another. This section can be a bit slippery thanks to pebbles that sit on the trail.

Drink in Great Views from Cathedral Trail

Beavertail cactus grows on the sides of washes and dry runs along the Cathedral Trail.

At the ridge top, you’re afforded a great view of Cathedral City Cove. the cove sits atop an alluvial fan eroded off these foothills since the end of the last ice age about 11,700 years ago. Thanks to the high foothills surrounding the cove, it’s largely wind free, at least compared to the more open desert immediately to the north.

The trail then curls up and down the rocky ridgeline. As you’re starting to get deep into the foothills, urban noise and all signs of development disappear.

The trail ascends once more. As cresting the ridge, your route briefly levels out. Be sure to take a look around. To the northwest is a pyramid-shaped peak, Murray Hill, which tops out at 2202 feet. To the west stretching north-south are the Santa Jacinto Mountains; Idyllwild is on the other side.

Another ascent soon follows. Along the way, to the north are nice views of Palm Springs and Cathedral City with the northern Coachella Valley beyond.

Drink in Great Views from Cathedral Trail

Engelmann’s hedgehog cactus blooms in April on the Cathedral Trail.

The trail soon crosses a creek bed that usually is dry except after a rainstorm or immediately following spring’s first snowmelt. In April, this area marks an excellent spot to see blooming Engelmann’s hedgehog cactus, which sports showy magenta flowers. Beavertail cactus’s pink to red flowers also are in bloom.

At 1.8 miles, you’ll reach a wide dirt road; this is the Dunn Road Trail. You’re at about 1640 feet elevation. Turn back here.

There’s no shade the entire way, so be sure to don sunscreen, sunglasses and sunhat as well as bring plenty of water.








Image Sources

  • The Cathedral Trail heads 900+ feet into the foothills overlooking Cathedral City.: Rob Bignell
  • Engelmann’s hedgehog cactus: Rob Bignell
  • The Cathedral Canyon Trailhead is at the end of Foothill Road in Cathedral City.: Rob Bignell