Something different -- Palm Springs area 12/30/22 to 1/3/23

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
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Something different -- Palm Springs area 12/30/22 to 1/3/23

Post by pdxalex » January 5th, 2023, 10:17 am

With the kids home from university, we opted for 5 days in Palm Springs, hoping for better weather and interesting hikes. We spent two days hiking in Joshua Tree National Park, a day checking out the area around the Salton Sea, and a day in the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve. On the valley floor, temps were in the upper 50s to low 60s. At 3000-4000 feet in the park, it was usually cloudy with temps in the mid-40s to upper 50s and fairly windy. We were even surprised by 15 minutes of rain while hiking in Joshua Tree NP.

Joshua Tree National Park
Like other parks, Joshua Tree is overrun with people, particularly in the northern Mojave desert portion. Lines at the main entrance can stretch half a mile. Anyplace that was marked on the park map was swamped with people seeking the perfect Instagram shot, many ignoring signs and boundaries. We opted for two comparatively little traveled trails, the Maze Loop trail near the north entrance, which doesn’t even show up on the park map, and the Lost Palm Oasis trail near the south entrance at Cottonwood Spring. Both trails are about 6 miles long and are reminiscent at times of the Loowit Trail, although without the sketchy gully crossings. In other words, a lot of sand and rock. The Maze Loop offers views over the desert to the north. The Lost Palm Oasis allows for a shorter loop around Mastodon Peak and mine. We were treated to colorful, interesting cacti and a variety of vegetation and flowering plants (mostly on the Lost Palms Oasis trail). There were a few signs of wildlife, occasional small piles of scat loaded with hair and a couple of small paw prints, possibly from the fox that live in the park. We did see a few ravens, cactus wrens, and a hummingbird.
loop trail.jpg
loop looking north 2.jpg
loop lookijng west.jpg
loop 2.jpg
ct flowers 1.jpg
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ct catcus 1.jpg
ct cactus 3.jpg

Dos Palmas Oasis Preserve
This is a BLM site about 4 miles east of the entrance to the Salton Sea State Recreation Area. There is a short trail, less than a mile long, through the oasis. It is interesting to walk through a dense grove of 40 ft tall fan palms and past the pools of water that keep them alive. Many of the trees were loaded with long clusters of berries. They are edible but are about 98% pit, sweet and tasty but very little reward. Coyotes are gorging on the berries, as evident in the piles of scat packed with pits. A few flowers were in bloom in the surrounding desert. We could hear birds but never saw any.
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dos palmas flowers.jpg
Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve
This is part of the larger Coachella Valley Preserve located in the hills just north of Palm Desert. We opted for the Willis Oasis trail since the visitor center and the main trail were closed. This trail is about 5 miles long but links to other trails in the preserve. Most of the hike was in open desert with very little vegetation. With few plants to examine, we kept our eyes open for burrows and nests in the cliff sides and desert floor. The oasis shows some damage from a 2010 fire. Almost all of the trees had blackened trunks although the tops of all but a handful were lush and green. There are a couple of paths through the oasis although the footing can be tricky. Other than the burrows and nests, there was no sign of wildlife.
willis oasis.jpg
willis oasis fire damage.jpg
willis oasis desert.jpg
willis oasis burrow entrance.jpg

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retired jerry
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Re: Something different -- Palm Springs area 12/30/22 to 1/3/23

Post by retired jerry » January 7th, 2023, 7:24 am

nice to get away from winter here

Walkin' Fool
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Re: Something different -- Palm Springs area 12/30/22 to 1/3/23

Post by Walkin' Fool » January 12th, 2023, 2:01 pm

Nice! I love that area in the winter. I was there roughly the same time and did a 3-day 45 mile backpacking loop in JTree and saw hardly anybody. It always amazes me how some of these places that are so incredibly crowded can still offer solitude if you know where to go (and just as importantly, where *not* to go!).

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Re: Something different -- Palm Springs area 12/30/22 to 1/3/23

Post by keithcomess » January 25th, 2023, 7:59 pm

Thanks for the report! My sister is a long-time resident of Palm Springs and I've been on a few of the trails you describe. A year or so ago, vandals entered Joshua Tree and destroyed many specimens, in addition to driving on fragile desert. We also experienced long waits to enter the park.

Anyway, thanks for the update!

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