You can't go wrong hiking the McCallum Trail in the Coachella Valley Preserve near Palm Springs. The trail starts in the Thousand Palms Oasis, making its way through the native fan palms over a boardwalk. Then you'll have a sandy stretch before you reach McCallum Pond, a desert oasis that is one of the rare areas where the endangered Desert Pupfish can live. A short hike extension takes you to a vista point where you can see San Andreas Fault below you. This hike packs a lot of scenery into a small package, and is excellent for families and beginning hikers.
- Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the McCallum Trail
- Parking and Visiting the Coachella Valley Preserve
- Insider Tips for the McCallum Trail
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 McCallum Trail
The McCallum Trail's start is located at the heart of the Coachella Valley Preserve, the Thousand Palms Oasis. The oasis is worth a visit in itself, so make sure you budget a little time to look around the various interpretive displays and attractions.
To get to the McCallum Trail, use this address:
Coachella Valley Preserve - Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve, 29200 Thousand Palms Canyon Rd, Thousand Palms, CA 92276
The Coachella Valley Preserve is only open at certain times, so it's imperative that you check the website before you visit.
Gear for the Hike
Although the hike is short, it is an exposed desert hike, so bring at least 1L of water and sun protection. And do it at a time where it's cooler. Summer at mid-day will have deadly high temperatures. The hike is best done in fitness gear or light hiking gear.
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McCallum Trail Maps
Overall the trail is well-marked and easy to follow. The majority of the McCallum Trail is soft sand, which is a little more challenging than usual to walk in.
- The pond at the end of the hike, known both as McCallum Pond or the Simone Pond, was once home to the Desert Pupfish, a hearty fish found in desert oases.
- Although the pupfish can withstand water temperatures from 40F to 108F, it was no match for invasive species, specifically crayfish and tilapia (yup, the ones you see in the supermarket). In 2009 the last two pupfish were relocated after getting decimated by these new predators.
- Today they are trying to reintroduce the pupfish, but the crayfish, which lay thousands of eggs in the mud and can travel on land, are proving tough to kill off. You might see a platform in the pond that has instruments to detect the crayfish DNA's presence.
- Once the crayfish are gone, the pupfish will be reintroduced.
- The pond is not always open due to these restoration efforts. To ensure the pond is open when you visit, call the Preserve before visiting (number at the top of this guide).
- The tall palm trees are home to many birds, and a favorite place for owls to nest. Keep your ears open for them.
- As you might imagine, this desert environment is home to snakes, including rattlesnakes. Give them plenty of room and they won't bother you. If you see fallen palm fronds, leave them alone. Snakes often take shelter under them when the temperatures go up.
- This area is a park in part because of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.'s efforts, who recommended that it be protected because of its beauty. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. was the son of the guy who created Central Park in New York City,
- The trees here are native fan palms, not the palm trees you see used for landscaping in developed areas.
- John Guthrie McCallum, a Scot, and namesake of the trail, was one of the early gringos to visit the area and is credited with building Palm Springs into a settlement and eventually a city.
McCallum Trail Directions
The vista point extension is optional and adds about 0.5 miles total onto the hike. If you don't want to do it, just go back the way you came from the pond.
From here, just turn around and go back the way you came.
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.
This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard
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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