The Mission Creek Preserve hike is a great family-friendly adventure that offers a little bit of everything in an easy package. You'll be able to visit the ruins of an old "glamping" resort, follow a creek that started high in the mountains and is now irrigating the desert, pass a rare wetland, enjoy views of the high peaks, and then visit an old stone ranch house. The trail is wide, the climbs gradual, and it's easy to follow. Even if you're an experienced hiker, there's enough beauty here to warrant at least one visit.
- Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions For the Mission Creek Preserve Hike
- Parking & Trailhead Information
- Gear Recommendations & Hike Tips
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 Mission Creek Preserve
The Mission Creek Preserve hike is located off of Rt-62, which connects Palm Springs with Joshua Tree. Once you pull off Rt-62, it's a 2.5 mile drive down a sandy, unpaved road to the trailhead. The good news is that the road is sandy and smooth, and is doable by low-clearance vehicles. Just don't plan on going over 20mph.
Use this trailhead address:
Mission Creek Preserve, 60550 Mission Creek Rd, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
Gear For the Hike
This is an exposed desert hike. When it's hot outside, you need to prepare accordingly or skip the hike altogether. Winter is the sweet spot for a visit. I always bring 1L of water here. Otherwise it's an easy hike up a dirt road, and you can wear light hiking gear or fitness clothes. The rocky trail is best done with good footwear that keeps the rocks out.
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Mission Creek Preserve Trail Maps
If you can walk down a dirt road, you can do this hike. I've included detailed directions below with images and video, but basically you'll be walking up the road to the old stone house, and then back.
Guides to Help You Navigate
Mission Creek Preserve History
- The area that you are hiking through is geologically unique. Similar to nearby Joshua Tree National Park, you are in a transition zone between the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. Unlike Joshua Tree, here you have Mission Creek providing a water source, attracting animals and providing plants the moisture to grow. You'll even pass an area designated as wetlands, right here in the desert!
- As I mentioned earlier, the first stone huts used to be part of a larger complex called T Cross K Guest Ranch. The ranch offered horseback riding, hiking, barbecues, a pool, and "mother's good home cooking." Rates were $5 a night, or about $100 in today's money. Not bad. The ranch fizzled out in the 1950s.
- Today the Mission Creek Preserve is in the care of the Wildlands Conservancy, and is part of the Sand to Snow National Monument, created by President Obama in 2016. There's another great Wildlands Conservancy hike just down the road at Whitewater Preserve. You can do both hikes in one day if you want.
Mission Creek Preserve Hike Directions
Turn by Turn Directions
Once you're finished, you just hike back the way you came. If you'd like to drive to the stone house without the hike, or would like to camp here, you can contact Mission Preserve (use the website link at the beginning of the guide) and request access.
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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