Hiking the Camille Canyon Ridge Loop is best-done October through April
A fantastic view of Mount San Jacinto, the Palm Springs Windmills, and Desert Hot Springs await on the Camille Canyon Ridge Loop.
The 2.8-mile trail sports a 537-foot elevation gain. Loose sand on parts of the trail make good hiking boots and trekking poles a necessity. It’s best-done October through April to avoid the summer heat in the low foothills.
To reach the trailhead, from Calif. Hwy. 62 in Desert Hot Springs, take Pierson Boulevard east. Turn left/north onto North Indian Canyon Drive then right/east onto Mission Lakes Boulevard. When the read reaches Verbena Drive, go left/north. Park off the side of the road. The trailhead is the first dirt road going east in about 200 feet from the intersection.
Starting at about 1760 feet elevation, the trail heads across sparse desert scrub, slowly gaining elevation. There are several crossing paths, so be sure to bring a trail map.
In short order, the trail enters the unmarked Sand to Snow National Monument. You’ll know you’re there, though, as upon reaching it the trail heads 200 feet up the side of a small rise over a distance of about 300 feet. The top of the rise, at 1883 feet elevation, marks a good spot to rest.
From there, the trail heads along the ridgeline, steadily gaining elevation. About a mile from the trailhead, you’ll reach the loop’s summit of 2264 feet. You can walk cross country about 120 feet to the northeast to higher point that sits at 2297 feet above sea level.
The vista is spectacular.
Looking back the way you came; Mount San Jacinto rises in the distance. Southern California’s second highest peak at 10,834 feet, snow covers the summit for almost all of the recommended hiking season. It’s a beautiful contrast to the warm valley floor.
Beneath the peak is the Palm Springs Windmills. More than 4000 windmills make up the farm, which produces enough electricity to power the entire Coachella Valley. Each windmill towers 32 stories high tall with each blade half the length of a football field.
Just below the foothills you’re hiking sits Desert Hot Springs. From having just 20 residents in 1941, today the city’s population tops 32,000. Both naturally occurring hot and cold springs can be found there, a rarity in the world.
While on the trail’s summit, turn around as well. Beneath you to the east and north are deep canyons, a rugged, little seen badlands at the base of the Little San Bernardino Mountains.
For the last two-thirds of the hike the trail descends the ridgeline by looping northwest then turning south. Sections of the trail here can be steep and narrow.
The trail arrives back at the desert floor near Valencia Drive. Upon reaching Verbena Drive, the trail parallels the road until arriving back at the trailhead.
The entire trail is exposed to sun, so be sure to don sunscreen, sunglasses and sunhat. Bring plenty of water and some snacks to replenish your energy. An aerial map of the route can prove useful if you’re navigation challenged when hiking.
- 02 Rugged badlands at the base of the Little San Bernardino Mountains await hikers on the Camille Canyon Ridge Loop.: Rob Bignell
- 03 The sun sets over the San Gorgonio Pass, as seen from the Camille Canyon Ridge Loop.: Rob Bignell
- 04 Camille Canyon Ridge Loop topo map: Cathedral City
- The Camille Canyon Ridge Loop offers great views of Mount San Jacinto, the Palm Springs Windmills, and Desert Hot Springs.: Rob Bignell