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Palm Springs Hiking Trails

Bear Creek Oasis Trail Guide

  • 9 miles - Hard Effort
  • 4-5 Hours (Total)
  • 2,540 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 2,350 feet
  • No Dogs Allowed

what does this mean?

The Bear Creek Oasis Trail hike in La Quinta, CA is just spectacular; there's no other way to slice and dice it. The first mile is flat and easy as you follow the Bear Creek wash up into the Santa Rosa foothills. And then you start climbing, winding your way up like a bighorn along the ridges and switchbacks, eventually getting to a point where you can see for miles: San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, the Coachella Valley, and the Salton Sea. But wait, there's more! Toward the end, you wind down into a canyon nestled in the desert mountains to find a beautiful hidden fan palm oasis. It a tough one, but the payoffs are incredible.

In this Guide:
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the Bear Creek Oasis Trail
  • How to Get to the Bear Creek Oasis Trail in La Quinta, CA
  • Insider Tips and Recommendations for the Hike

When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.

How to Get to the Bear Creek Oasis Trail

So the maps and the trailheads for this hike can be confusing. Two trailheads are close to the start of the hike. I prefer to use the farthest one since it gets you closer to the main trail, and you spend less time in the general use/dog walker area. Other guides start you from the first trailhead. And then there's a "Bear Creek Trail," which is paved and not the "Bear Creek Oasis Trail," so heads up.

Use this trailhead address:
54990 Avenida Madero, La Quinta, CA 92253

Bear Creek Oasis Parking Detail
As you drive toward the trailhead address, go past the first parking area and continue down to the end of the street, before it turns right.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 1
There's a decent-sized parking area.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 2
This is not the trail you want.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 3
There are water and shade at the paved trailhead from the last image.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 4
There's also a nice trail map at the parking area. La Quinta does a really good job of making it easy for hikers. I wish more places followed their lead.
Cove Oasis Trails Start
This is the trailhead that you want to start at from the parking lot. No pavement for you today!

There are no bathrooms at the parking lot.

Gear for the Hike

This is a proper desert backcountry hike, so plan accordingly. And don't do this in the summer or on warmer days. The landscape is harsh and there is no shade.

My Latest Gear Picks

Featured Gear 2023 08 11

Garmin inReach Mini 2 ( Amazon | REI )
HOKA Speedgoat 5
( Men | Women )
Zpacks Sub-Nero Ultra ( Zpacks | Review )
Alpine Carbon Cork Poles ( REI | Amazon )

As a hiking guide, I test lots of hiking gear. On my picks page, I'll show you all of the gear that I actually use. I don't accept paid promotions or talk about the stuff that doesn't make the cut. It's just the gear that works best, so you don't have to waste your money.

All My September 2023 Top Gear Picks

Bear Creek Oasis Trail Maps

The hike's beginning can be a little tricky; there are a lot of use trails and mountain bike cutoffs. But once you start the climb at about 1.5 miles in, it's very easy to follow (the only) trail. I'll show you the details in the guide below.

Click Here To View

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Best Smartphone Apps to Navigate: AllTrails | GaiaGPS | OnX


Elevation Profile

Bear Creek Oasis Elevation
The start of the hike is relatively flat as it makes its way up the wash. After that you climb. The last section to the oasis has a downhill dip.

3d Map

Bear Creek Oasis 3d Map
You'll hike up the wash, and then hit the hills as you make your way up to the oasis, nestled in a secluded canyon.

Bear Creek Oasis Hike Directions

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Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 5
Start the hike by heading through the Cove Oasis Trails gate.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 6
Make the right at the split.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 7
And then a quick left.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 8
And then hike past Cove Oasis Picnic Area on your left. It's a nice spot and has water if you need it.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 9
After passing the Oasis and hiking for a few minutes, you'll see this trail off to the right. This is the official start of the Bear Creek Oasis Trail.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 10
Once you go past the point in the last photo, there's a downhill. At the bottom, make the left. Lots of folks miss this turn, so stay aware.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 11
If you look ahead from that left, you'll see these Bear Creek Oasis Trail markers in front of you. Follow them. They'll be your friend as you make your way up the wash.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 12
Here's what the Bear Creek Oasis Trail markers look like up close. Keep following them.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 13
If you see a split, keep your eyes open for a trail marker in the distance. Locals and mountain bikers often use the side trails and cutoffs, and it can be confusing if you see footprints leading away from the trail. Always look for the marker.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 14
Some sections are clearly marked with stones.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 15
You'll enter the sandy wash toward the end of this stretch. Hike up the wash.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 16
The trail splits off to the right as you go up the wash.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 17
Once you leave the wash, the trail slowly starts to notch up the incline and climb. Look for switchbacks as you hike. You'll start winding uphill now.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 18
When you do wind around, you're treated to nice views of the wash you hiked up and the Coachella Valley.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 19
Not long after the start of the climbing, it starts to get steep.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 20
There are more gradual sections like this one where the trail sweeps around the hillside. Look for the trail in the distance as you climb.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 21
There are some pretty dramatic viewpoints into the canyon. When you come to an edge, always look back for a switchback. There are no sections inside the canyon wall. If you're there, you're in the wrong place.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 22
The trail changes direction and starts to head west. The gradient eases up.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 23
As some point you'll crest a rise and be greeted with stunning views of San Jacinto and San Gorgonio. Expect a jaw drop.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 24
And if you look behind you, you can see the Salton Sea.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 25
As you wind around to the west, you'll get short flat section, but you're not there yet.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 26
One last steep and rocky section of climbing.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 27
And then you're at the high point of the hike. There's a great rock viewpoint here that's worth a stop.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 28
As the trail winds around the hill to the left, you'll see the Bear Creek Oasis in the distance. The trail goes downhill and dips through the canyon.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 29
After dipping through the canyon, you'll come to the oasis. These dead trees stand guard at the front.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 30
And then you'll reach the full fan palm oasis.
Bear Creek Oasis Trail Directions 31
That's it! From here, head back downhill to the start. All that hard work on the climb pays off as you descend. The views are non-stop and incredible.

Have a question about the guide or want to see what other people are saying/asking? View the Youtube comments for this video. Leave a comment and I will do my best to respond.

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This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!).

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