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Pushawalla Palms Trail

Pushawalla Palms Trail Loop

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the Pushawalla Palms Trail Loop
  • Where to Park for the Pushawalla Palms Trail
  • Insider Tips and Gear Recommendations for the Hike
Total Distance5 miles (8.1 km)
Hike Time2-3 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Moderate
Total Ascent (?)880 feet (268m)
Highest Elevation860 feet (262m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dogs AllowedNo
Alerts & Closures (?)Coachella Valley Preserve
Park Phone760-343-1234

The hike to Pushawalla Palms in the Coachella Valley Preserve is a must-do hike in the Palm Springs area. You’ll follow a ridge on top of the San Andreas Fault to the hidden Pushawalla Palms grove, fed by water that has risen to the surface through cracks in the fault. On the way back, you’ll hike through Hidden Palms, full of thick growth fan palms. The Pushawalla Palms loop is a spectacular hike and not to be missed.

Where is the Pushawalla Palms Trail?

The Pushawalla Palms Trail is located in the Coachella Valley Preserve. Unlike other trails that start at the gated visitor center and are closed some days, the Pushawalla Palms trailhead is just off the road outside of the visitor center, and is generally open all the time. Check the park website link at the beginning of the guide to confirm.

You can use this trailhead address:
Pushawalla Palms Trailhead, Thousand Palms Canyon Rd, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92241

Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 2
There’s a small dirt parking area around the trailhead.
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And when the parking area fills up, you can park in the dirt along the road.

Gear For the Hike

This is an exposed desert hike, and you should plan accordingly. I bring 2L of water and plenty of sun protection. It’s not a summer hike, ass it’s almost completely exposed (except for the oasis areas). Some folks find trekking poles helpful on the sandy slopes.

Altra Lone Peak

The Most Comfortable Hiking Shoe Ever
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak 4.5 (Women: REI | Amazon  + Men: REI | Amazonis 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 work great on the trail. It’s a favorite of PCT and AT hikers for a good reason!

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

Stay Safe Out of Cell Phone Range
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Garmin InReach Mini (REI | Amazon | My Review) fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing.

Gaiagps

Gaia GPS Mapping App
Smartphones are not backcountry instruments, but almost everyone has one today. And they all have GPS onboard. So I recommend getting a good GPS hiking app like Gaia GPS that supports offline maps. Just make sure to put your phone in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. GaiaGPS not only has smartphone and tablet apps, but also an online planning tool. You can drag the GPX hike tracks from my (or any) guides into the online map and they will sync to your phone. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get up to 40% off here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated February 2021.

My February 2021 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 offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.

Pushawalla Palms Trail Maps

Overall the trail is well-marked, with some spots that are a little confusing if you don’t look at my turn-by-turn directions below. The trail is a mix of hard-packed sand and loose sand.

Another thing to note is that there are a fair amount of other trails and unmarked trails. If you look at other guides, you’ll see that many of them are different variations of some of these trails. I picked this routing and loop because I think it’s the most scenic and fun. But it’s easy enough to choose your own adventure if the fancy strikes you. I included an alternate route to the palms in the map and GPX below. Also note that many of the trails are not shown on OSM and similar trail maps. I’d highly recommend using my GPX file on your GPS device to confirm your position, and knowing how to read a topographic map is a great skill to navigate this desert hike.

Click Here To View Map

Download the Hike GPX FileView a Printable PDF Hike Map

Fenix 6 Pro

How are you going to navigate this hike?
To start, you should always have a paper map and compass. And it helps to print this guide out or save it on your phone. I highly recommend a GPS as well. I use the Garmin Fenix 6 Smart GPS watch ( REI | Amazon | My Review) with maps (or the more affordable Garmin Instinct). The GPS smartwatch is nice because it’s rugged, works if your phone dies, and also has a billion other features like sleep tracking, workout recording, etc.

Elevation Profile

Pushawalla Palms Trail Loop Elevation
In the beginning you’ll climb up the ridge, and then descend back down to Pushawalla Palms and then to Hidden Palms. From there it’s a very gradual climb back to the start.

3D Map

Pushawalla Palms Trail Loop 3d Map
The purple line is the recommended loop, the red line the alternate. On the purple line you’ll hike along the ridge and then descend to Pushawalla Palms. From there, you’ll cross the flat desert to the Hidden Palms grove, then climb back to the start.

Hike Brief

Coachella Valley Fringe Toed Lizard
While you may see the usual variety of lizards and snakes out here, keep your eye open for ones that look like this (it’s about 6-9 inches long). This is the Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard, which is endangered and is only found in a 19-square mile range here now (down from 270 square miles). Unlike most other lizards, these guys can use their wedge-shaped noses to burrow under the sand to escape the heat and predators.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 1
Be careful are the fallen palm fronds, there often used by rattlesnakes for cover and shade. People have been bit by rattlesnakes at Pushawalla Palms and have needed a helicopter evacuation.

Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions

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Video Directions

Watch This Video In 360/VR Why 360/VR Is Great

Turn by Turn Directions

Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 4
Start heading down the trail from the parking lot.
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Keep straight and avoid the turnoff to the right.
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You’ll see a good amount of these trail markers for Pushawalla Palms along the route.
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Go straight toward the hill. To the left is the alternate route, on my map in red.
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Start climbing up the hill, known as Bee Rock Mesa.
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At the top of Bee Rock Mesa, make the hard left to continue uphill on the ridge.
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If you look behind you to the right up here, you’ll get some incredible views of Mt San Jacinto.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 13
The trail winds its way along the spine of the hill. You’re actually hiking on the top of a fault line here. You can explore the fault line locations on the USGS website..
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Keep going past a wide flat point where folks often leave rock drawings. Note that cairns are not encouraged in the Coachella Valley Preserve.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 15
Continue along the ridge.
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If you look down to your left, you’ll be able to see the alternate trail. It’s nice, but you don’t get these incredible ridge views. The mountains to the left in the distance are in Joshua Tree National Park.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 17
Keep straight and avoid the trail down the hill to the right.
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Soon you’ll see Horseshoe Palms down to your right, at the bottom of the hill.
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Continue hiking on the ridge.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 20
When the trail descends from the ridge, make the left and then the first right at the bottom.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 21
Here’s the right turn at the bottom.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 22
From there the trail descends through a little gully and over some spectacular rock formations.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 23
Then you’ll descend some wide switchbacks.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 24
When you get to the bottom of the switchbacks, keep your eyes open for this intersection and left turn. Make the left.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 25
There’s a trail marker after you make the left confirming that you’re heading to Pushawalla Palms.
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Follow the trail as it heads to a gully.
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Then make the hard right turn into the gully and descend.
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Head down in the gully to the end, avoiding any side trails out of the gully.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 29
You’ll wind around in the gully.
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And soon the Pushawalla Palms will emerge in front of you.
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When you get into Pushawalla Canyon, make a right to continue the trail. You can also explore up to the left, where there are more trees.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 32
Head down Pushawalla Canyon. Note the small stream of groundwater. The water makes the area popular for wildlife. Don’t be surprised to see rabbits, coyotes, snakes and all kinds of birds. Owls often nest in the palms.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 33
If you keep heading down the canyon you’ll come to a nice picnic bench where you can take a break in the shade of the palms.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 35
Keep heading down the canyon until you see this turnoff to the right. It’s easy to miss so keep your eyes open.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 36
And once on that trail, make the right to continue up the canyon wall.
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The trail winds up through a gully.
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And when you get to the top, make the hard left.
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There are small trail splits, but they all join back up together. I walk on the one closest to the edge to enjoy the views.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 40
When you get to the big intersection, make the left / forward turn. There’s a hard left turn back that leads to a viewpoint, but that’s not the one you want.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 41
You’ll pass the back of a Coachella Valley Preserve sign.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 42
And then you’ll see a marker for Hidden Palms as the trail turns into a wide jeep track.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 43
From here on out you’re on this wide track for about a mile. On your right will be the Horseshoe Palms. Note that there are many unofficial trails that parallel this jeep track. You might see the footprints. I stay on the jeep track to minimize my impact on the fragile ecosystem.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions 44
After about a mile on the track, look for the right turnoff.
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And then make the immediate right when you see the Hidden Palms.
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The trail goes to the right of the Hidden Palms Oasis.
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The palms here are pretty massive with huge skirts.
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The trail continues out the back of the grove when the big, wider trail ends.
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Now you’ll be back on a smaller trail.
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Like before, there are a decent amount of trail markers pointing you in the right direction.
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When you get to the mound, hike uphill.
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And from here to the end, most of the hike looks like this.
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Keep straight at the junction.
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And when the trail dead-ends, make the left.
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At the split, keep right.
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And then you’ll be back at the Bee Rock Mesa area that you climbed at the beginning of the hike. Head back down on the trail you took up and you’ll be back at the parking area in a couple of minutes.

This guide last updated on February 8, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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