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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

what does this mean?

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

When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.

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.

My Latest Gear Picks

Featured Gear 2023 08 11

Garmin inReach Mini 2 ( Amazon | REI )
HOKA Speedgoat 5
( Men | Women )
Zpacks Sub-Nero Ultra ( Zpacks | Review )
Alpine Carbon Cork Poles ( REI | Amazon )

As a hiking guide, I test lots of hiking gear. On my picks page, I'll show you all of the gear that I actually use. I don't accept paid promotions or talk about the stuff that doesn't make the cut. It's just the gear that works best, so you don't have to waste your money.

All My September 2023 Top Gear Picks

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

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Best Smartphone Apps to Navigate: AllTrails | GaiaGPS | OnX


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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!

Have a question about the guide or want to see what other people are saying/asking? View the Youtube comments for this video. Leave a comment and I will do my best to respond.

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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!).

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