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.
My Goto Hiking Footwear: La Sportiva Wildcat
If you hike a lot or just want the best (but not the most durable) hiking footwear, the Wildcat trail runner is your best move. It’s fast and light on trails, the sole gives me good grip off-trail or scrambling, and they dry quickly.
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Best Budget Day Pack: REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack
Bang for the buck, you can’t go wrong with this pack. It’s super-lightweight and big enough to carry everything for a day hike, including a water bladder. Every year REI improves this pack and after a few years, it’s really solid in every way. I pack mine in a carry-on when I travel to do hikes on trips. And if you’re into ultralight backpacking, this is also a solid choice.
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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.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated January 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.
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.
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). You can also use most smartphones. Check out my navigation recommendations and resources on my top gear picks page for options at all budget levels.
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.
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.