A paradise for mountain biking enthusiasts, Greater Palm Springs is surrounded by scenic mountains that offer a variety of challenging trails for both beginning and avid bikers. The Santa Rosa Mountains lie to the southwest of Greater Palm Springs with the San Jacinto Mountains to the west. Looking east are the Little San Bernardino Mountains, and stately San Gorgonio Mountain with the highest peak in Southern California dominates to the north. Not only does this mountain-embraced geography provide a fantastic view in every direction, it fills the valley with some epic mountain bike trails.
We’ve compiled some of the best rides the valley has to offer below. Each touts a great workout as well as stunning scenery. However, before heading out on your ride, you need to remember the essentials of desert riding, such as ride with a friend, bring tons of water, watch for rattlesnakes and stay on the trail.
Known as an epic ride, Palm Canyon Trail truly showcases the stunning beauty of the Santa Rosa Mountains. Travel desert to desert over 29 miles of breathtaking views. This is a great ride for the intermediate rider, as long as you partner with someone who knows the trail. Break in with a rigorous 2,000- foot climb and then descend 6,000 feet. Palm Canyon Trail isn’t technical, but it is long, and there are cacti and steep descents along the way. Extra snacks and water are a must on this one.
To reach the lower trailhead, follow Hwy. 111 east from Palm Springs to the Rimrock Shopping Center (at Gene Autry Trail). If you prefer to start at the upper trailhead, continue east to CA-74 (Monterey) to Ribbonwood Drive. Make a right onto Pine View Road; park where the pavement ends.
Art Smith Trail
This challenging and diverse ride takes you through the scenic Santa Rosa Mountains. Suggested for youthful and avid riders, this trail can be quite a challenge for the novice. While the trail is very well maintained, there are several steep climbs that will cause you to dismount and carry your bike.
To get to the Art Smith Trail, take the I-10 east exit to the Monterey Avenue (CA-74) exit, going south. Proceed uphill past Bighorn. On your right-hand-side, you will see the trailhead of the Art Smith Trail.
The Bump and Grind
Take a quick 4- mile ride up and down the mountain on the Bump and Grind. This wildly popular trail is frequented by hikers and bikers all year long. The trail is scenic and provides a great workout with amazing views for those on foot and on wheels.
To reach the Bump and Grind Trail, park behind Target at Desert Crossings on Hwy 111 in Palm Desert.
Palm Canyon Pinyon Flats Loop
Experience some gorgeous canyon and ridge tops on the Pinyon Flats Loop. This trail is very diverse and carries riders through the desert landscape. Watch out for cacti along the narrow single-track sections. Proper arm and leg coverage is a must! The Pinyon Flats Loop is a technical trail that is perfect for the experienced, in-shape biker who desires an up-close experience with desert scape.
The Pinyon Flats Loop includes a three-mile section of pavement riding that can be completed at the beginning or the end of the ride, depending on where you decide to park. You must take CA-74 to reach the trail. Parking is outside of the Pinyon Flats Campground, causing you to complete the pavement portion at the beginning, or at the end of Pine View Road, which will prompt you to complete the pavement portion of the trip at the end.