Are you searching for the perfect spot to admire the desert landscape while enjoying a picnic lunch? From canyons to shaded oases, Greater Palm Springs is home to a number of easy trails that offer both serenity and natural wonders.

McCallum Trail

Palm trees in an oasis on the McCallum Trail in the Coachella Valley Preserve

Stats: 1.7 miles out and back, flat

Notes: Free parking and entry, preserve hours change seasonally

The McCallum Trail begins on a short section of boardwalk in the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve, and after approximately half a mile on a well-marked, sandy wash, hikers will come across this pristine desert oasis. The Simone Pond is surrounded by tall palms and park benches, creating an ideal shaded retreat.

Cap Rock Nature Trail

Woman hiking the Cap Rock Trail in Joshua Tree National Park

Stats: 0.4 mile loop, flat

Notes: Entry fee or annual pass required for Joshua Tree National Park

If you are looking for a quick and easy sundowner spot in Joshua Tree National Park, add the Cap Rock Trail to the top of your list. Whether it’s benches or large rocks, there are a number of places to plunk down and watch the sun dip behind the mountains. The best part? This trail is literally steps from the parking lot.

Marsh Trail

Boardwalk path with trees on the Marsh Trail in Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

Stats: 0.5 mile loop, flat

Notes: Free parking and entry, park hours are 7:30 a.m. to sunset.

If you cruise up the Twentynine Palms Highway to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, you will discover a handful of trails that branch off from the boardwalk of the Marsh Trail. There are a number of park benches along the way, and plenty of twists and turns on the path, making this a fun spot for perspective snapshots.

Mesquite Trail

View of hills and trees from the Mesquite Trail in Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

Stats: 0.7 mile loop, mostly flat with two dozen steps

Notes: Free parking and entry, park hours are 7:30 a.m. to sunset.

After starting out on the Marsh Trail in the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, you have the option of adding the short and sweet Mesquite Trail to your route. This hike offers views of the hills and takes you right through clusters of trees on the preserve. Bring your binoculars, because you might spot a number of birds soaring overheard.

Andreas Canyon Trail

Palm trees and an oasis in the Andreas Canyon hiking trail in Indian Canyons

Stats: 1 mile loop, ~50 feet of gain

Notes: Visitors must pay a $9 entry fee at the Indian Canyons kiosk

The parking lot and picnic area in the Indian Canyons nature preserve are surrounded by hundreds of palm trees, as is much of the easy and scenic Andreas Canyon Trail. The first section of the trail runs along the Andreas Creek, while the second half takes you up a gentle sloping hill to look down on the palms tucked into the rocky landscape.

Murray Canyon

Waterfall on the Murray Canyon hiking trail in the Indian Canyons nature preserve

Stats: 4 miles, ~500 feet of gain

Notes: Visitors must pay a $9 entry fee at the Indian Canyons kiosk

If you’ve finished the Andreas Canyon Trail and you’re craving more of a challenge, the Murray Canyon Trail will give you just that. The first part of the trail winds alongside Murray Creek, so depending on the time of year (and recent rainfall), you might get your feet wet. The last quarter mile of the hike does involve basic scrambling, but it leads hikers to a set of small, cascading waterfalls.

Tahquitz Canyon

Desert plants along the Tahquitz Canyon trail in Palm Springs

Stats: 3.5 miles, ~300 feet of gain

Notes: Hikers must pay a $12.50 entry fee at the visitor center

Meandering down this well-maintained, partially shaded trail is a wonderful experience, but consider taking a guided walk with a tribal ranger in Tahquitz Canyon. During this interpretive hike, you will learn about everything from the history of the Cahuilla tribe to edible plants, and you can even sample some if you like. The trail is home to a seasonal waterfall, but still worth visiting even during the dry months.

49 Palms Oasis

Palm tree oasis on the 49 Palms Trail in Joshua Tree National Park

Stats: 3 miles, ~450 feet of gain

Notes: Entry fee or annual pass required for Joshua Tree National Park

There are two popular oasis hikes in Joshua Tree National Park, and the 49 Palms Trail requires the least amount of effort. After trekking just a mile and a half through the hills, a cluster of palms sprouts up from the valley floor, offering shade and a perfectly-timed rest stop. While the trail is well-maintained, much of it is in the sun, so this is a hike you should consider skipping during the summer.

Whitewater Canyon

Trees and walkway in the Whitewater Canyon Preserve

Stats: 4 miles, ~700 feet of gain

Notes: Free parking and entry, park hours are 8 a.m to 5 p.m.

In the northwest corner of Greater Palm Springs is the Whitewater Preserve, home to a wide range of avian species, both local and migratory. The main loop trail currently has a closure on the south section due to recent fires, so be sure to check with rangers and/or refer to notices and maps at the visitor center. If you aren’t up for the full hike, there is an accessible, paved path around the ponds by the visitor center, along with a handful of picnic tables under the trees.