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Palm Springs Hiking Trails

The Cross Hike (Palm Desert)

  • 2.4 miles - Moderate Effort
  • 1-2 Hours (Total)
  • 770 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 1,050 feet
  • Leashed Dogs Allowed

The Cross Hike in Palm Desert is a great out-and-back hike for all levels. You'll hike through classic desert hill terrain to reach the cross, standing 30 feet tall on the hilltop, a religious experience for some and a fun destination for all. Whatever you believe, the views from the top are great, and the workout is a good one. This hike is a local favorite for a quick hiking fix.

In this Guide:
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions to The Cross
  • Parking For The Cross Hike in Palm Desert
  • Insider Tips and Recommendations for the Hike

The Cross Hike Palm Desert Address

There's plenty of free parking at the trailhead in Cap Homme and Ralph Adams Park. Use this address:
72500 Thrush Rd, Palm Desert, CA 92260

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When you get to the park entrance and sign, make the right and drive down to the parking area.
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The parking lot is big. Park towards the end, which is where the trail starts.

Gear for the Hike

You don't need any special gear to do the Cross Hike, and fitness gear works well. Good footwear and trekking poles will help on the steep sections. The main thing here is the desert environment - bring at least 1L of water and avoid the day and year's hotter times. There is no shade on the hike. There is no shade on the hike.

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 2Hit SOS or just tell loved ones that you're running late where your cell phone has no service.  Review here.
Gear Topo Pursuit
Topo Pursuit 2The best hiking footwear I've ever owned. No blisters. Get them wet, they dry quickly. Lots of cushion and comfort.
Gear Epix Pro Up Ahead
Garmin Epix ProHiking maps, route info, and fitness stats on my wrist. Review here.
Hikelite 26 Gear
Osprey Hikelite 26Lightweight, carries all your gear, and your back doesn't get sweaty. Oh yea, it's also one of the most inexpensive packs you can get.

Check out the complete list here. ( Updated July 2024)

Palm Desert Cross Trail Maps

The nice thing about this hike is that you can see the cross for most of the way, making navigating straightforward. You'll be starting on the Homestead Trail, and then heading onto the Hopalong Cassidy Trail. I'll show you how to do it later, but for now, here are the trail maps.

Click Here To View

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

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There are handy trail signs along the way. Look for "The Cross Loop."

Elevation Profile

Palm Desert Cross Hike Elevation
There's a few dips, but otherwise it's a straight up and straight down affair. Also note that there is no shade on the hike.

3D Map

Palm Desert Cross Hike 3d Map
From the park you'll climb up along the ridge to reach the cross.

What Is The Cross in Palm Desert?

The Cross Hike Directions

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Look for the gap in the fence at the far end of the parking lot, and walk straight through along the well-worn path to the hillside.
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On the far right you'll notice a pavilion and interpretive display. The display has the Hopalong's Creed on it. We'll be hiking on the Hopalong Trail later.
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Here's the pavilion and water fountain.
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Otherwise go straight and you'll see the trail climbing up ahead to the right.
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As you get closer you'll see a sign for the Homestead Trail. Hike uphill to the right.
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Start hiking uphill.
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Soon you'll reach a shaded pavilion. The trail continues to the left.
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From the pavilion there are some short, steep switchbacks to climb.
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And then you reach the ridge and can see the trail stretch out in front of you.
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Avoid the side trails to the left and keep heading up toward the cross.
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You'll be able to see the cross up to your left as you hike.
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At the intersection, bear left to continue to the cross. You're now on the Hopalong Cassidy Trail.

Hopalong Cassidy was a fictional cowboy character that first came to life in 1904 through short stories, then on films, and then on a popular television show in the 1950s. The television character was played by William Boyd, who retired to Palm Desert. His widow and the city named the trail after him and his famous character.

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The trail briefly twists away from the cross.
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And then crests a ridge and turns back to the left towards the cross. You'll see the trail stretch in front of you.
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The last section to the cross is uphill but not so steep.
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And soon you'll see the cross in front of you.
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Because it's so tall, you can't really get a photo of the cross with the valley in the background, but it's easy enough to get pictures straight up at it.
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The base of the cross is filled with prayers and remembrances written on stones.
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There are great views into the valley and surrounding mountains.
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When you're done at the cross, just head back down the way you came up!

Need More Info?

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.