San Diego Trail Tramps ~ Scheduled Hikes for 2013

  Andreas Canyon Trail Loop and Victor Trail/Palm Canyon Trail Loop

Part of the Indian Canyons on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, just south of Palm Springs

Date:  Saturday, March 2, 2013  8:00 AM - 5:00 PM (Post-Hike BBQ at members' home in Palm Springs)

Location: Indian Canyons are located on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, about 5 miles south of downtown Palm Springs


To get to the Palm Springs Indian Canyons from Palm Springs, head south on Hwy. 111. Turn right onto South Palm Canyon Drive from Highway 111 and drive about 2.8 miles to the Indian Canyons tollgate. An admission fee is required. (Adults $9, Seniors 62+ $7, Kids 6-12 $5, Students & Military $7) There are signs posted to help you find your way. Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

If hikers leave from the Hillcrest carpool at 8:00 AM on Saturday, March 2nd, they'll arrive about 10:15 am in Palm Springs. We'll rendezvous at the home of two of our members, take a brief coffee break, then form a carpool and depart for the hike at 10:30 am. We'll meet at the Andreas Canyon trailhead 7.7 miles south, and begin our first of two hikes at 11:00 AM. (Some hikers may want to come to Palm Springs on Friday evening and stay the weekend at one of the many reasonable resorts there.)

Background info.:

Centuries ago, ancestors of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla (pronounced Kaw-we-ah) Indians settled in the Palm Springs area and developed extensive and complex communities in Palm, Murray, Andreas, Tahquitz and Chino Canyons. Many traces of these communities exist in the canyons today, including rock art, house pits and foundations, irrigation ditches, dams, reservoirs, trails, and food processing areas.

This is a place to be respectful of those who came before, as well as their descendants who now care for this land. Meander through a huge oasis of native California Fan Palms (the largest such oasis in the world) as you hike the Victor Trail Loop, which includes both the Victor Trail and a segment of the Palm Canyon Trail. Be careful. The Victor Trail is rocky and uneven in places, but you’ll thoroughly enjoy this sampler of great sights in the Indian Canyons.

Dogs and mountain bikes are not allowed in the Indian Canyons Heritage Park, and an entrance fee is required.

Hike Description:

The Andreas Canyon Trail Loop: Park at the Andreas Cyn/Murray Cyn parking area. Take the Andreas Cyn Loop Trail to the west. Elevation gain ~300', Degree of Difficulty: Easy, Length ~2 miles roundtrip. It's an easy trail that takes the hiker up the right side of the canyon, following a stream that wanders through groves of California fan palms. During warm weather the stream is a welcome sight to hikers and provides some relief from the desert heat. The canyon is a stark contrast to the usual desert hiking trail due to the abundant vegetation that grows along the stream. One almost feels like they are in a "jungle" environment, instead of desert. If you look closely, you will also see many different birds and other animals, along with countless insects. And yes, rattlesnakes are common in these desert palm canyon oases. So, watch your step.

After hiking about one mile, the hiker comes to a wire fence that signals the end of the trail. At this point you can cross the stream and return via the other side of the canyon, or you can return the way you came. The left side of the canyon gives the hiker a view of the canyon from above it a little, and is very much worth the effort.

The Victor Trail/Palm Canyon Trail Loop: Drive down the South Palm Cyn main road until it deadends at the Palm Cyn parking area and Visitor's Center/Store. To do the loop trail clockwise, start at the lower parking lot far end and take the Fern Cyn trail down into the palm oasis and head east/northeast. Turn south onto the Victor Trail, where you'll gain 200'-300' in the first mile. Follow the trail up along the crest of Palm Cyn, then descend to the intersection with the Palm Cyn Trail and turn right, heading down the canyon, back towards the Visitor's Center and parking lot.

Elevation gain - 300', Degree of Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous, Length - 2.75 miles roundtrip. This trail loop combination offers some of the best views within the Indian Canyons. Fifteen miles long, Palm Canyon itself is one of the areas of great beauty in Western North America. Its indigenous flora and fauna, which the Cahuilla people so expertly used, and its abundant Washingtonia filifera (California Fan Palm), are breathtaking contrasts to the stark rocky gorges and barren desert lands beyond. Magnificent views can be seen of cactus-studded canyons, lush-green palm-treed oases, and majestic mountains (the San Jacintos) along the loop's various elevated vista points.

The trail is rugged throughout (particularly the Victor Trail), characteristically rocky and uneven in many places, with most of the elevation gain (about 200'-300') occuring within a mile. Sturdy hiking boots, a hat, and plenty of water are essential. Temperatures can easily be in the 80-90 degree range, even in the autumn and spring. Also, in years with good rainfall, water levels in the canyon are high (late winter and early spring months). There are two stream crossings to negotiate, so be prepared. In the Palm Canyon, itself, there is a warm spring to visit, too.