Boo Hoff Trail Loop

Hike the Boo Hoff Trail Loop

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
Total Distance (?)12.8 miles (20.6 km)
Hike Time5-6 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Hard
Total Ascent (?)2,560 feet (780m)
Highest Elevation1,940 feet (591m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dogs AllowedNo
Alerts & Closures (?)Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument
Park Phone760-862-9984
Weather & ForecastLatest Conditions
Stay SafeCopy this webpage link to the clipobard and share with a friend before you hike. Let them know when to expect you back.

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.

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.

Garmin Inreach Mini 2

Garmin InReach Mini 2
I’m a firm believer in carrying a satellite communications device which works where cell phones don’t. I use a Garmin InReach which lets me send text messages back and forth to my family to let them know that I’m okay or if my plans change when I’m out in the backcountry. It also has an SOS subscription built-in so that you can reach first-responders in an emergency. The devices also offer weather reports, GPS, and navigation functionality (what’s the difference between a GPS and satellite communicator?). For a few hundred bucks they could save your life, so for me it’s a no brainer to have something like a Garmin InReach. If you use a smartphone to navigate and want a more affordable option that integrates with your phone easily, check out the ZOLEO.

Latest Prices: Amazon | REI

Lone Peak 6 Yellow

Altra Lone Peak 6
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. I have a video on the details of the Altra Lone Peak 6 here.

Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon 
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon 

Black Diamond Ergo Poles 2

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.

Trail Ergo Poles: REI | Amazon 
Z-Poles: REI | Amazon 

Gregory Zulu 30

Gregory Zulu 30 & Jade 28
After testing quite a few backpacks, the Gregory Zulu 30 (and Jade 28 for women) is, for most hikers, the best all-season day-pack. First off, it’s very comfortable, and the mesh “trampoline” back keeps your back dry. Its 30L capacity is enough for all the essentials and plenty of layers for winter hiking. External pockets make it easy to grab gear. It’s hard to find something wrong with the pack; if anything, it could be a bit lighter, but overall, it’s not heavy. And its price-point makes it not only affordable but generally a great value.

Women’s Latest Prices: REIAmazon 
Men’s Latest Prices: REIAmazon 

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated May 2022.

My May 2022 Top Gear Picks

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.

Boo Hoff Trail Maps

Boo Hoff Trail Directions 2
The trail is well marked with signs like this that often include the trail name.
Click Here To View

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?
Here’s what I use. 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 7 or Epix. 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.

To access this guide when out of cell phone range on the trail, simply save the webpage on your phone ( iPhoneAndroid ).

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)
Boo Hoff Trail Directions 1
Today you can still see equestrians enjoying the trail.

Boo Hoof Loop Hike Directions

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Video Directions

Turn by Turn 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!

This guide last updated on April 24, 2022. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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