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Palm Springs Hiking Trails

Hike the Boo Hoff Trail Loop

  • 12.8 miles - Hard Effort
  • 5-6 Hours (Total)
  • 2,560 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 1,940 feet
  • No Dogs Allowed

The Boo Hoff Trail, which follows a native path into the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains, is filled with desert beauty and panoramic views. This loop is a challenging route that offers a solid climb, a descent into Devil Canyon and around Lake Cahuilla, and a hike back on the Cove to Lake Trail. Overall the Boo Hoff loop is a challenging hike that offers a little of everything.

In this Guide:
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the Boo Hoff Trail Loop
  • Parking for the Boo Hoff Trail
  • Insider Tips and Recommendations for the Hike

Where is the Boo Hoff Trail?

There's a massive and well-developed trailhead for this hike at the Cove to Lake Trailhead. The Cove to Lake Trail is the one we'll be using to return on the loop (FYI). Here's the trailhead address:
Cove to Lake Trailhead, Calle Tecate, La Quinta, CA 92253

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The parking lot is massive and free. Don't confuse it with the nearby "Cove Oasis" trailhead.
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The Cove to Lake Trailhead has the nicest toilet that I've ever seen at the start of a hike. There's also a water refill and fountain.
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Several other (use) trails lead out of the parking lot, but the hike starts at the big sign at the end of the parking lot.

Gear For the Hike

This is a rough backcountry hike and you should prepare accordingly. Trekking poles and good hiking footwear are handy on the slopes. If you have low gaiters they can be helpful hiking through the loose rock and sand. I bring 3L of water but usually use around 2L unless it's very hot. And when it's very hot, as with most hikes in the desert, the hike can be deadly. It's best done in the cooler months.

Gear That I Love Right Now

Nothing is sponsored or promoted, just the actual gear that I use.

Gear Inreach Mini 2
Garmin InReach Mini 2If you are out of cellphone range the Mini 2 will reliably allow you to hit SOS via satellite. You can also send non-emergency texts to just say that you're late, let friends and family follow along, and check the weather. You can see my review here.
Gear Topo Pursuit
Topo Pursuit 2The wide toe box means no blisters, an aggressive tread is great on the trail, it dries very quickly, and it has lots of cushion for long days. It combines everything I love about every other shoe into one.
Gear Epix Pro Up Ahead
Garmin Epix ProThese watches are pricey, but I use them 24/7 for sleep tracking, workouts, heart rate, and tracking my hike. It has preloaded hiking maps that help me navigate the trails and is a backup to my smartphone navigation. The Epix Pro has a great battery life, a screen similar to an Apple Watch Ultra, and works in harsh conditions when just using the buttons. See my review here.
Hikelite 26 Gear
Osprey Hikelite 26This updated version of the Hikelite 26 offers incredible value for the money. It's got a wide trampoline back, so your back doesn't get sweaty. It's under 2lbs, has deep side pockets, and is a great balance of what you need without what you don't.

Check out the complete list here. ( Updated June 2024)

Boo Hoff Trail Maps

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The trail is well marked with signs like this that often include the trail name.
Click Here To View

Use This Map:
View in CalTopo | PDF Map | GPX File

Elevation Profile

Boo Hoff Trail Elevation
The climb from La Quinta Cove starts gently up a wash, and then gets steep as you hit the foothills. From there you'll descend along Devil Canyon to Lake Cahuilla, and then tackle a smaller climb back to the start.

3D Map

Boo Hoff Trail 3d Map
The route is a lollipop loop going counter-clockwise. You'll get the tough climb done in the first stretch, then descend to the lake, and then climb back out to the start.

Who is Boo Hoff?

Boo Hoff Historical
This is Boo Hoff. Photo Desert Sun (1969)
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Today you can still see equestrians enjoying the trail.

Boo Hoof Loop Hike Directions

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Hike through the Cove Trailhead sign.
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Go straight along the road.
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And then bear left onto the beginning of the trail. There are a lot of small use trails around the start. Stay on the larger main trail.
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You'll see a trail marker for the Boo Hoff when you make the turn.
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Follow the wide path toward the hills.
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At the split, bear left.
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And then follow the main trail around the water tanks (and their access trails) on the left. You can see the main trail has a marker (on the right).
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Keep following the trail markers.
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When you get to the small rise, go up and over.
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The small rise marks the beginning of the National Monument.
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Once over the small rise, there's a junction. Go straight to start on the Boo Hoff Trail.

When you return, you'll come back on the Cove to Lake trail from the left.

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Now we've left the network of confusing trails at the beginning and are just following the one, Boo Hoff Trail, to continue.
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The trail climbs gently up the wash. There are many tracks along the wash from bikes, horses, and people going off-trail. A good amount of trail signs ensure that you're on the right path.
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Go straight past the junction where the connector trail to Cove Oasis joins.
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The trail will dip in and out of the wash a few times. Follow the trail markers.
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You'll see the iron Boo Hoff Trail sign. The trail climbs up to the left from the sign.
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Now the climb begins in earnest.
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Pass the trail counter used to measure trail usage.

Why do the trail counters have American flags on them? Land managers have found that when a trail sign has an American flag on it, it doesn't get vandalized or stolen.

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Follow the main path uphill. Again, there are mountain bike and use trails that criss-cross over the main path on this section.
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At about 2.7 the switchbacks begin, making the climb a bit easier.
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Look back to enjoy incredible views. In the distance are the Little San Bernardino Mountains in Joshua Tree National Park.
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There are several wide viewpoint areas on the climb.
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As you climb you'll be able to see into the Coachella Valley to the east.
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Keep hiking uphill. The trail is well-marked.
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At about 3.5 miles you'll crest the summit. From here you have panoramic views from the Salton Sea to the high peaks of SoCal.
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Continue over the crest.
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And now start the long downhill through a grove of teddy bear cholla and barrel cacti. The trail follows Devil Canyon, which is ahead.
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The descent gets more gradual as you continue.
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You'll cross through several washes, all of which are well-marked.
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Soon you'll approach lower Devil Canyon.
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And then you'll see the other large Boo Hoff Trail sign around 6.4 miles in.
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After the sign we just follow the wash downhill.
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Pass through the wilderness area signs.
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Here's the sign at that last photo, looking backward.
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Now we just follow the wide sand road (still technically the Boo Hoff Trail) downhill. Stay straight on the main road.
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There's still the occasional "Boo Hoff Trail" marker along the way as the road winds to the left.
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At the bottom you'll reach the wall around the residences of "The Quarry at La Quinta," considered one of the best golf courses in the area. As you might guess from the many security cameras along the wall, the area is "members only."
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The road turns left and comes up to the paved road.
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Once you come up to the paved road, take the road to the right, Jefferson St.
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This is the least-fun section of the hike, but it's not too long. Follow along Jefferson St.
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When you get to the gates of Lake Cahuilla Park, take the sandy trail to the left.
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Follow the trail straight along the residences on the left.
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Look back for nice views of Lake Cahuilla.
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Keep straight past the trail sign.
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And follow the markers for the Cove to Lake Trail, which we'll be taking back to the start.
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The trail climbs out of the wash.
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And you'll hike along the Tom Fazio designed "The Quarry at La Quinta" golf course.

Golf Digest has rated the golf course here as one of “America’s 100 Greatest” every year since the list started in 1994. The course is limited to only 250 members at a time. The course was built on top of the old quarry known as "Keller Pit."

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You'll descend into the wash along the course.
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And then climb back out.
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The area above the course here is especially beautiful.
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Then look for the (easy to miss) turnoff to descend back into the wash.
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Follow the wash uphill.
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The Cove to Lake trail is well-marked along the wash.
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At the head of the canyon, start the climb up the steeper slope.
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If this is a longer hike for you, this last climb can be tough after the earlier efforts.
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Look back for nice views into the canyon you just ascended.
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At the top of the climb you'll see the Cove Trailhead in the distance.
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Descend into the wash and follow the trail signs.
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Soon you'll reach the junction where you entered the area. Make the right back up the berm to retrace your steps to the start.
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Retrace your earlier steps back to the Cove Trailhead. That's it!

Need More Info?

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

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!). You can stay up to date with my new guides by following me on YouTube, Instagram, or by subscribing to my monthly newsletter.