Whitewater Preserve Hike – Canyon View Loop Trail
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance||4 miles (6.4 km)|
|Hike Time||2-3 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||790 feet (241m)|
|Highest Elevation||2,760 feet (841m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free / Donations Accepted|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Whitewater Preserve|
One of my favorite hikes, the Canyon View Loop Trail at the Whitewater Preserve, between Palm Springs and Joshua Tree, offers beauty at every twist and turn. The well-marked trail follows the Whitewater River Canyon until it reaches the iconic PCT and then climbs up to a bluff that offers non-stop views into the canyon and high peaks of the San Gorgonio Wilderness area. It’s a hike that’s worth making a trip for, so give it a try.
Where is Whitewater Preserve?
Whitewater Preserve is a few miles up the Whitewater River from Interstate 15. The hike starts from the visitor’s center area, which also offers bathrooms and picnic tables. Unlike most hikes where you can show up and hike whenever you want, Whitewater Preserve usually has opening hours and is closed some days to give the wildlife some space. Check the link at the beginning of the guide to confirm the hours.
Use this trailhead address:
Whitewater Preserve, 9160 Whitewater Canyon Rd, Whitewater, CA 92282
Whitewater Preserve Alternate Parking
There are times when the Whitewater Preserve visitor’s area is closed, but the trails are still open. Again, check the link at the top of this guide for the specifics. When this is the case, you can’t park at the main lots and have to start the loop hike downs the road from the visitor’s center.
Gear for the Hike
This hike is in the desert, and in the summer, it can get very hot. I recommend going early or in a cooler season and still bringing some sun protection. Bring at least 1L of water for the loop hike. The trail is sandy in places but otherwise very well manicured. I use light hiking gear, but you can get away with fitness clothing.
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.
Latest Price on Women’s Shoe – REI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s Shoe – REI | Amazon
Best All-Around Day Pack: Osprey Talon
I try so many backpacks and I can usually find something I love about all of them. But no matter how many I try, I always find that I come back to the Osprey Talon 33 (or for women, the Osprey Sirrus 36). It’s just the right balance between everything. You save weight because there is no frame, but the vented and padded back holds its shape, giving it a pseudo-frame. It’s big enough for long day hikes or overnighters, but when I don’t fill it on a shorter hike, it’s still nice and light. It’s got a sleeve for a hydration bladder and side pockets for Smartwater bottles. I’ve been using (and beating) the same one since 2017 and it’s still going strong.
Latest Women’s Prices: REI | Amazon
Latest Men’s Prices: 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.
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.
Whitewater Preserve Canyon View Loop 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.
- The Whitewater Preserve is home to endangered peninsular bighorn sheep, bears, coyotes, and mountain lions. Generally you won’t see any of these animals, but occasionally, if you keep your eyes open on the hills above you, you may spot a bighorn.
- In order to return the land back to its original state, the Wildlands Conservancy has removed old buildings, roads, non-native plants, and has restored the river from a muddy cattle bog to the crystal clear water you see today.
- The Whitewater River, which you follow on the hike, starts high in the mountains and flows down to Palm Springs. When it’s flooded and raging, the river sometimes flows out into the Salton Sea. Generally the area is closed when flooded, but even the “normal” river levels can be deadly. There is a death from being swept away in the river every few years. Enter the water with extreme caution, if at all.
- PCT thru-hikers often make the short detour to camp at the Whitewater Preserve visitor’s center area.
- The Sand to Snow National Monument, which this hike is located in, was inspired by the Wildlands Conservancy’s Sand to Snow Interface Project.
Whitewater Preserve Hike Directions
It’s easy to say thank you! Support these free hiking guides by buying anything at Amazon or REI using the links below. There is no cost to you.
Buy Anything on Amazon Buy Anything on REI.com Donate with PayPal
Watch This Video In 360/VR Why 360/VR Is Great
Turn by Turn Directions
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.