San Diego Trail Tramps ~ Scheduled Hikes for 2012

  Whitewater Preserve (near Palm Springs)

Wildlands Conservancy photo of the beautiful Whitewater River

Date:  Saturday, March 3, 2012  8:00 AM - 5:00 PM (Post-Hike Jacuzzi & BBQ at members' home)

Location: This hike is located in the Whitewater Preserve, northwest of Palm Springs, which is 2,826 acres surrounded by BLM San Gorgonio Wilderness. (Check the Maps page of this website for more directions and a map to print out. Here's the link to the Preserve's Map.)

Directions: Click here to Google directions.
If hikers leave from the Hillcrest carpool at 8:00 AM, they should arrive in Palm Springs about 10:15 AM. We'll rendezvous at the home of two of our Palm Springs members, take a quick break, then head up to the Whitewater Preserve trailhead and begin hiking about 10:45 AM.

Background info.: "The canyon has a robust population of bighorn sheep, deer and bear and is an important wildlife corridor between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains. Over the past ten years, the Whitewater River has transformed from black water cattle wallows to crystal clear waters. Other restoration efforts involved removing 19 neglected houses and commercial structures at the old trout farm along with diseased non-native elm trees. These impacted lands have been restored with native sycamores, cottonwoods, flowering ash, alders, narrow-leaved willows, native shrubs and substantial wetlands." - Whitewater Preserve (on the beautiful Wildlands Conservancy Website)

Hike Description:

Pacific Crest Trail (Ranger Station to San Gorgonio & San Jacinto Overlook Summit & Back Again) *** degree of difficulty out of a possible ***** ~9 miles roundtrip -- approx 4.5 hour hike.  Elevation gain/loss is about 1300'. Start at 2,114' & hike to 3,400'.
Hiking boots are recommended for traversing some of the steeper rocky & loose dirt trails / non-trails.

This hike will start at the Ranger Station, where the Rangers inside the building are quite knowledgeable about the history of the (now gone) Trout Farm -- and the establishment of a conservancy/preserve. Arrive early to chat directly with them about it -- its quite a fascinating history, and also summarized on their website.

We will hike north on new trails created by the Preserve, with easy crossing of the Whitewater River within minutes of the ranger station, through a reeded marshy area, up onto a small ledge that borders the valley floor and on up to the intersection of the Pacific Crest Trail within 15 minutes of departing.
Following the PCT for the next 45 minutes and skirting the western-most edge of the valley, we will eventually approach Red Dome -- a large mound of red clay. 10 minutes later we again approach the Whitewater River -- however here it is quite challenging to cross, unless others have moved tree trunks to cross, or large limbs. It is a swift river...only knee deep mostly, with small pools that do go down a couple of feet. (25 of our hikers crossed it mid January 2010 without 1 falling in). We may have to go up river or down river to locate a suitable crossing. You can always take off your boots and walk across in less than 15 seconds too!

Crossing of the narrow, but swift running Whitewater River, requires balance, agility, & possible assistance from fellow hikers.

From the river we travel across the rest of the valley floor N/NW to the PCT Switchbacks that would typically take you up to the West Fork Trail, and then another 4 miles over to the Mission Creek Preserve. But we won't be going that far. 40 minutes or less up the switchbacks (through a prickly pear cactus patch at one point near the beginning) we will arrive at a pseudo-summit along a ridgeline, where you can clearly see the other side of the mountains and Joshua Tree National Park's western edge beyond Morongo Valley. Here we will turn northward, and freeball it along some steep inclines for about 15 minutes up to the top of the Summit, where we'll unwind (you'll possibly be winded the last 10 minutes), unpack our lunches, and gawk at the incredible snow-capped views of both Mt. San Gorgonio to the West and Mt. San Jacinto to the South.
After lunch, we'll head down the SouthWest Ridgeline of that summit until we reach the valley floor again, back over to the River to cross it (if the weather's warm, take a "brisk" dip!) and back on down the PCT to the Ranger Station.

Canine Companions are welcome on this hike!

The following day (Sunday), for those who stay overnite in Palm Springs and are adventurous, don't hesitate to consider a SLEDDING or SNOWSHOEING expedition up on Mt. San Jacinto for a couple of hours mid-day. Some equipment is available from a couple of our Palm Springs members, the rest can be rented up top at the Adventure Center. $23.25 for roundtrip on the tram ride, + equipment rental, and Hot Chocolate is served with or without Baileys or Kahlua up there at the Lodge. ;^ ) See Palm Springs Tramway for details.