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.
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.
Altra Lone Peak 5
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak 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’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.
Latest Price on Women’s Shoe
REI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s Shoe
REI | Amazon
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.
REI | Amazon
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated October 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 keep the website ad and promotion free. 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.
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.
How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 6. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
Bear Creek Oasis Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
This guide last updated on May 4, 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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