Trail Info. Courtesy: Trail Guide and Hiking Author, Philip Ferranti
Hike #1: Bear Creek Trail, La Quinta
Length 6 miles (only if you choose to do the full path)
Time 3 hours
Elevation 150 ft
Season sept to may
Info. City of La Quinta 760 777-7000
Start your family friendly nature adventure at the Bear Creek Trail. This hike is actually a more urban walk along the western edge of the City of La Quinta. With pavement under foot, the Bear Creek Trail is perfect for the whole family; four-legged members are also welcome. It’s three miles in one direction, and you can hit the trailhead from multiple spots along the route and get the same breathtaking views. Popular with locals, this trail is bordered by the Fred Wolff Nature Preserve, where desert plants like Creosote, Smoketree and Palo Verde are marked for a learning experience along the way. The trail ends up at the top of the La Quinta Cove where, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can catch another trailhead for further exploration.
Hike #2: Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve
Length 6 miles (Only if you choose to do the full hike)
Time 5 hours
Elevation 100 ft.
Info CV Preserve, Thousand Palms 760 343-1234
Our next family friendly hike takes us to the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve in Thousand Palms where trails are less demanding, yet offer a real desert oasis experience. Find yourself in a wonderland of towering palms and bubbling creeks. The San Andreas Fault has caused a fracture which forces water up through the cracks to feed the palm trees. There are four large palm groves to experience here, all surrounded by desert canyons, hills, washes and mesas. You can get the full desert experience in an hour or two. Make sure you pack a picnic because chances are the kids won’t want to leave.
Hike #3: Big Morongo Canyon Preserve
Length 3 miles
Time 2 hours
Elevation 200 feet
Season year round 7:30 to sunset
BMC Preserve, Morongo Valley, 760 363 7190
The Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, just a 15 minute drive from Palm Springs, is like no other area hike. Enjoy the patter of your child's eager feet along the eco-friendly boardwalk; it will be a great accompaniment to the sounds of nature. This area was once a ranch stopover for tired stagecoach travelers as far back as 1872. Now preserved by the Nature Conservancy, the Bureau of Land Management and San Bernardino County Regional Parks, the 29,000 acres are a true gem. Here you will see flatlands that resemble Northern New Mexico, and swamplands that make you feel as though you’re in the jungle. Take in the lush vegetation with gorgeous Cottonwoods, Red Willows and huge Cattails that sprout from the ponds. In spring, the Preserve is home to more than 250 bird species. Stop off for a rest along the three mile loop at one of the many perfectly perched benches and make sure to pack a sack and grab a bite to eat at the picnic tables under the canopy of trees near the parking lot.
Hike #4: Whitewater Canyon Preserve
Length 4-5 miles
Time 2 hours
Season October to may closed some holidays
Whitewater preserve 760 325-7222
Enjoy the sound of rushing water at our next family friendly stop. Whitewater Canyon Preserve is an amazing canyon and riverbed experience that will no doubt be stored away in some of your best family memories. The year-round Whitewater River, which flows through the canyon, is created by the main runoff from Mount San Gorgonio. The 2,000 acre preserve is an important wildlife corridor between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains. Vertical cliffs and canyons provide a rich habitat for endangered bird species, Bighorn sheep, deer and even bears. As you head back into the canyon you will be reminded of what the old west looked like. Take a shorter path and spend the day relaxing by the calm waters or walk a bit farther where you’ll find several trailheads, one of which leads to the Pacific Crest Trail. The pond near the ranger station is packed with eager trout, just waiting to welcome the family back from a day of adventure in this gorgeous desert playground. Make sure to ask the ranger for a cup of fish food and make some friends with the water critters before you leave for the day.