The Cross Hike (Palm Desert)
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||2.4 miles (3.9 km)|
|Hike Time||1-2 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||770 feet (235m)|
|Highest Elevation||1,050 feet (320m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Palm Desert Parks & Recreation|
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.
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
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.
Better Than a Selfie Stick
Part of the fun of a hike is taking pictures, and a flexible JOBY smartphone tripod takes it to the next level. You can use it as a selfie stick, as a regular tripod, but more importantly, as a flexible tripod that can attach to tree branches and other objects. It’s not expensive, and it’s something you can use when not hiking too.
Your Biggest Asset If You Get Lost
If something goes wrong and you get lost, sprain your ankle, or get delayed, you might be caught out after dark. And one of the top items that search and rescue departments recommend you carry is a light. Now smartphones have lights, but they drain the battery quickly. It’s better to invest in an expensive yet high-quality headlamp like the Black Diamond Astro 250. It takes AAA batteries, can last 200 hours, and has an emergency strobe. Carry it with you off the trail to use in emergencies as well.
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REI Membership Saves You Money Forever
Have you shopped at REI before? They have all kinds of active clothes and gear, from fitness, to hiking, to snow sports, to casual wear. It’s an overall great place to shop (here’s why) and they offer a $20 membership that gets you 10% back on everything for life, along with frequent coupons, discounts, and member-only sales. It’s a no-brainer.
Get It Here
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated October 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 keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.
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.
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.
How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 6. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
What Is The Cross in Palm Desert?
- College of the Desert students erected the original cross during the 1981 Christmas season.
- St Margaret’s Episcopal Church, which you may have passed on your way to the trailhead, maintains the cross, and sometimes has services there.
- In 1996 the current cross was erected, standing 30 feet high by 16 feet wide. Eagle Scouts laid underground wiring to light the cross.
- People leave stones with inscriptions at the base. Please don’t leave anything there, and if you really need to, make sure that the local endangered peninsular bighorn sheep can’t eat it. They will eat paper, plastic, basically anything that isn’t rock, and could potentially die.
The Cross Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
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.
This guide last updated on January 11, 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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