Earl Henderson Trail day hikers can enjoy a beautiful elevated view of Palm Springs!

During March, the 3.3-miles round trip trail usually is green with plenty of wildflowers. The trail sports a 377-foot elevation gain in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

To reach the trail-head, from South Palm Canyon Road in Palm Springs, turn left/east onto Bogert Trail. Immediately after crossing Palm Canyon Creek, turn left/north and park at the end of the road. This is the Garstin Trailhead.


The Palm Creek Wash and elevated view of Palm Springs await on the Earl Henderson Trail.

At 0.1 miles, take the trail heading left/east, which is the Earl Henderson. This segment of the trail runs along the side of Cahuilla Peak (which tops out at 1552 feet above sea level) a few feet above Palm Creek and its wash. This offers great views of Palm Springs below and the Little San Bernardino Mountains on the valley’s other side.


During March and April, the Earl Henderson Trail will be green with wildflower blooms.

During March, flowers usually bloom, and the desert turns green.


California barrel cactus is abundant on the Earl Henderson Trail. It blooms in April.

California barrel cactus is most impressive along this segment. It typically is spherical when young and cylindrical when older, sometimes reaching a height of 6.6 feet. On young barrel cactus, the needles are straight and red, but they curve and gray as the cactus ages.

As March ends and especially during April, look for the brilliant yellow or orange flowers on the barrel’s top.

Later in the season, the cactus bears flowers that are maroon outside and bright yellow inside with red or yellow centers on the side that faces the sun. The fleshy, hollow fruits are yellow.

At 1.1 miles, the Shannon Trail junctions the main route from the right/southeast. It climbs the foothill to Cahuilla Peak. Continue left-straight/east.


The Earl Henderson Trail runs along the base of Cahuilla Peak in Palm Springs.

The trail gets squiggly as it dips in and out of washes and switchbacks down the foothill into Araby Cove. As descending, pause and look back at views of Palm Springs and the San Jacinto Mountains.


Earl Henderson Trail aerial map. Click for larger version.

At 1.65 miles, it reaches a wash on the cove’s west side. You can treat this as a point-to-point hike by having someone pick up on Landsdale Road, or you can retrace your steps back to your vehicle.

The trail is named for Earl “Lucky” Henderson, a former president of the former Desert Riders, which built a number of trails in the San Jacinto foothills.

Though there are times when the mountains leave the foothills in shadow, it’s otherwise open to the sun. Given this, be sure to don sunscreen, sunglasses and sunhat and bring water. Dogs are allowed on trail.







Image Sources

  • 02-Palm-Creek-Rush-800×568-1: Rob Bignell
  • 03-Henderson-March-April-800×568-1: Rob Bignell
  • 04-California-Barrel-Cactus-800×568-1: Rob Bignell
  • 05-The-Earl-Henderson-Trail-Palm-Springs.: Rob Bignell
  • 06-Earl-Henderson-Trail-800×568-1: Rob Bignell
  • 01-Earl-Henderson-Feature-Image-800×568-1: Rob Bignell