Travel: Palm Springs Hikes

After four years, we made it back to one of our favorite spots: Palm Springs/Palm Desert, California. This trip was the first time we would be there for an entire week, normally we would just stay for 4-5 nights – which honestly is also plenty – but the extra few days for us was definitely a treat.

Since we were staying longer, I wanted to venture outside of our normal PSP vacay routine (which is eat, pool, drink on repeat) and find some hikes to venture out to. Indian Canyons was the first thing that stood out and often a handful of different hikes, plus it’s not far from downtown Palm Springs. And then I wanted to venture out to Joshua Tree Park, since it’s so widely talked about, but we’ve never officially gone – I found this neat Ladder Canyon Hike in Painted Canyon that looked super cool. Spoiler; we didn’t make it out to JTP – our desert-dwelling friends suggested another free hike, that was closer and thought we would enjoy more.

Selfie from the Josie Johnson Vista Park via the Carl Lykken Trail

Murray Canyon Hike

This is labeled as a moderate 4.7 mile hike and is an in and out hike. It cost us $26 to get into the ‘park’ which we were only expecting to pay $10 – so I was a little surprised about that, but the Murray Canyon Hike was worth it. If you want to make a day of it, I’d probably try to plan another hike to get a little more of your money’s worth, as we did not do that.

With temps supposed to get up into the mid-80’s, we made sure to get an early start, which isn’t hard since we were operating on East Coast time. We started our hike just before 9am, which was perfect because we beat the crowd. I would suggest 8:15 or 8:30am if you really want to get a jump on everyone. It took us an hour in and an hour back to complete this hike. It was definitely magical with little ‘air conditioned’ sections through palm tree jungled oasis with streams and mini canyons. There was also so scaling and parts of the trail that were a bit questionable, luckily we caught up with some people to mimic the way.

The end of the trail was just so lackluster – but the journey there is really what you should focus on, stop and soak in. You miss a lot of the same magic on the way out since you’re going the opposite way. But there were some incredible spots, especially the biggest waterfall.

Carl lykken trail (free)

This hike was recommended by our desert-dwelling friends, as it was right behind where they used to live! This free hiking trail is easy to spot, as you can count on a handful or more cars parked along the roadside at the trailhead. We definitely were underprepared for this hike, as we decided to keep going, beyond part 1 which was a short 40-minute steep incline to a picnic area known as Simonetta Kennett Vista Point. This first part was pretty much all uphill, had steep drop-offs while you scaled stone vs. dirt for a majority of the path. We wanted a bit more, so we kept going an additional 2-miles. 🙃 That part of the hike was fairly boring compared to part 1, and didn’t add for much more of a view, but got us additional steps and exercise! This hike is not shaded at all, so wear a hat, dose your body in sunscreen and pack a water bottle.

We ended up venturing to the Josie Johnson Vista Park, before heading back the way we came. Our hike ended with a total of 6-miles and 1,726 elevations climbed. Let me tell you, the mountains around Palm Springs are simply stunning – B and I definitely have a thing for mountain towns. Going down part 1 from the Simonetta Kennett Vista Point to the Lykken Trailhead, was tough on the toes as it is almost all downhill and steep!

Both hikes were super unique and really cool. The Murray Canyon trail took you through a magical desert oasis with views to soak in along the road – while the Carl Lykken Trail offered sprawling views of Palm Springs and the surrounding rolling mountains.

Looking for more Palm Spring adventures and mile long views? Check out my guide for visiting Palm Springs Aerial Tram (note this was written pre-pandemic and doesn’t include any new rules/restrictions). Happy desert living!

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