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.
The Best All-Around Hiking Footwear
For most hikers, a hiking shoe is the great choice, and the Moab 2 is a winner. The ventilation is great, they last forever, offer good protection, and have a solid grip. There are sizing options for everyone’s foot in this really comfortable and reliable shoe. This shoe is also a favorite of thru-hikers. The only downside is that they are a little heavy. If you are looking for something more aggressive or lighter, check out the bottom of my gear page.
Latest Price on Women’s Shoe – REI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s Shoe – REI | Amazon
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 April 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.
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?
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.
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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