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Palm Springs Hiking Trails

McCallum Trail Hike Guide

  • 2.5 miles - Easy Effort
  • Or: 2 Miles Without the Vista Point
  • 1-2 Hours (Total)
  • 220 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 730 feet
  • No Dogs Allowed

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.

In this Guide:
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the McCallum Trail
  • Parking and Visiting the Coachella Valley Preserve
  • Insider Tips for the McCallum Trail

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.

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When the parking lot is open, it's pretty massive.
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If the parking lot is closed but the Preserve is open, you can park on the side of the road outside of the parking lot.
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There are bathrooms in the Thousand Palm Oasis area, just down from the parking lot.
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The Thousand Palm Oasis by the visitor's center also has places to chill out.

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.

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)

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.

Click Here To View

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

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In addition to trail signs, any potential confusing junctions are generally blocked off.
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This is a sensitive habitat for animals that depend on the water and greens here to survive. Do them a favor and stay on the trail.

3D Map

Mccallum Trail Hike Guide 3d Map
The McCallum Trail goes along the green oasis area and is very gradually uphill. The green area is the fault line. When the earth moves apart (as it is in the cliff above), the groundwater comes to the surface and creates these green oases. Where you see green, you are looking at the fault line.

Hike Brief

Desert Pupfish
Maybe you'll see a Desert Pupfish, an endangered species, when you visit the pond. Photo Paul V. Loiselle

McCallum Trail Directions

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Head to the end of the parking lot where you'll see this welcome center. There's usually a docent here that will answer any questions that you may have.
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Continue into the Thousand Palm Oasis and make the right.
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There's an old settler's cabin that serves as a visitor center.
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Head in between the big palm skirts to start the McCallum Trail.
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Right away you feel like you are in another world as you wind through the massive palms.
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Head down the stairs.
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And then you're walking on a boardwalk above the water.
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Stay right when a trail branches off to the left.
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The trail passes over a dryer area. The white on the soil is alkali and salt from evaporated water.
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And then you have another stretch of boardwalk.
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The boardwalk ends and you head up on the sand trail.
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At this intersection, make the left to continue up the McCallum Trail. When you come back, you can skip the boardwalk and take the shortcut to the right back to the parking lot.
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There's a sign at that last trail junction. We're heading to McCallum Pond.
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For the next 0.5 miles, the trail is going to look a lot like this.
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Wherever there are side trails, there's a trail sign for McCallum pointing you in the right direction.
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At this split, make the right. To the left is a ranch.
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There's a shaded bench along the way, but otherwise no place to stop.
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When you get to the fenced entrance to the pond, head in if it's open. Sometimes the pond is open but the gate is closed. If that's the case, just open (and close) the gate yourself. Again, call ahead to see when the pond area is officially open. When it's "closed closed" the gate will be locked.
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You'll enter the McCallum Grove.
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The Preserve encourages you to go around the pond in a clockwise direction.
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From the start you'll get a nice view of the crystal-clear pond.
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Continue the loop around the pond.
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Toward the top of the pond there's a cool wooden viewing platform.
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When you're done at the pond, head back to the gate and make the right to visit the vista point.

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.

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Head along the fence surrounding the pond.
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There's a sign for the vista point.
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Make a right at the junction and hike up the small hill.
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At the top of the hill, make the left.
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And enjoy sweeping views of the McCallum Grove, Simone Pond, Thousand Palms Oasis, and the San Andreas Fault in front of you.
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If you look behind you, you can see Mt San Gorgonio, the highest point in Southern at 11,503 feet.

From here, just turn around and go back the way you came.

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.