Pushawalla Palms Trail Loop
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance||5 miles (8.1 km)|
|Hike Time||2-3 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||880 feet (268m)|
|Highest Elevation||860 feet (262m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Coachella Valley Preserve|
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
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.
The Most Comfortable Hiking Shoe Ever
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak 4.5 (Women: REI | Amazon + Men: REI | Amazon) 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 work great on the trail. It’s a favorite of PCT and AT hikers for a good reason!
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.
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.
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.
Download the Hike GPX FileView a Printable PDF Hike Map
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.
- The palms you see on this hike are native California Fan Palms, not the ornamental palm trees you’ll see in planned landscaping. California Fan Palms usually have a thick “skirt” of dead palm fronds attached to them.
- When you visit the oasis, you might notice water flowing on the ground. That’s because the groves are near the San Andreas Fault, and the movement on the fault line has let groundwater rise to the surface. If you see a white powder on the water, it’s alkaline and salt deposits.
- Why is it called Pushawalla? Legend has it that Pushawalla was the name of a local Native American who lived to be over 100 years old. Allegedly he died when a summer cloudburst flooded the canyon he was in and swept him away. The canyon where he was found (and where the grove is) is called Pushawalla Canyon.
Pushawalla Palms Trail Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
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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