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The Cross Hike Palm Desert

The Cross Hike (Palm Desert)

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
Total Distance (?)2.4 miles (3.9 km)
Hike Time1-2 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Moderate
Total Ascent (?)770 feet (235m)
Highest Elevation1,050 feet (320m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Palm Desert Parks & Recreation
Park Phone760-776-6481
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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

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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.

Griptightone Gpod Tree

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.

Latest Price
Amazon

Astro Headlamp

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.

Latest Price
Amazon – REI

Rei Member Card 2

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.

REI Membership 
Get It Here

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated October 2021.

My October 2021 Top Gear Picks

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.

Click Here To View

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.

Gaiagps

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.

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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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Video Directions

Watch This Video In 360/VR Why 360/VR Is Great

Turn by Turn 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!

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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