Bear Creek Oasis Trail Guide
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance||9 miles (14.5 km)|
|Hike Time||4-5 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||2,540 feet (774m)|
|Highest Elevation||2,350 feet (716m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument|
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.
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
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.
- You’re going to need proper hiking footwear here.
- Trekking poles will help with the loose soil and climbing.
- Bring at least 2L of water.
- The hike is all exposed and you’ll need sun protection.
The Most Comfortable Hiking Shoe Ever
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak 4.5 (Women: REI | Amazon + Men: REI | Amazon) is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they work great on the trail. It’s a favorite of PCT and AT hikers for a good reason!
Stay Safe Out of Cell Phone Range
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Garmin InReach Mini (REI | Amazon | My Review) fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing.
Gaia GPS Mapping App
Smartphones are not backcountry instruments, but almost everyone has one today. And they all have GPS onboard. So I recommend getting a good GPS hiking app like Gaia GPS that supports offline maps. Just make sure to put your phone in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. GaiaGPS not only has smartphone and tablet apps, but also an online planning tool. You can drag the GPX hike tracks from my (or any) guides into the online map and they will sync to your phone. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get up to 40% off here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated February 2021.
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
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.
Download the Hike GPX FileView a Printable PDF Hike Map
How are you going to navigate this hike?
To start, you should always have a paper map and compass. And it helps to print this guide out or save it on your phone. I highly recommend a GPS as well. I use the Garmin Fenix 6 Smart GPS watch ( REI | Amazon | My Review) with maps (or the more affordable Garmin Instinct). The GPS smartwatch is nice because it’s rugged, works if your phone dies, and also has a billion other features like sleep tracking, workout recording, etc.
Bear Creek Oasis Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
This guide last updated on February 5, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.
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