We spent the Black Friday hiking on the Mission Creek Strand of the San Andreas Fault in Coachella Valley Preserve. The Pushawalla Palms Trail offers geological evidence of the fault’s past activity, the cool desert oasis, and the beautiful view of the Coachella Valley.
Desert Hot Springs, where we currently stay, is situated on the Southern California section of the world-famous San Andreas Fault. The San Andreas Fault is a transform fault — a type of fault whose relative motion is predominantly horizontal — that separates the Pacific and North American plates. It played a significant role in the two major earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1906 and 1989. The San Andreas Fault has two parallel strands that run through the Coachella Valley. The Mission Creek Strand runs right through Desert Hot Springs. It also runs through the Coachella Valley Preserve where we hiked to Pushawalla Palms Oasis.
The Coachella Valley Preserve is located in the Indio Hills near Thousand Palms. The trailhead parking lot is on Thousand Palms Canyon Road near the Preserve Visitor Center. See a note about the warning sign for theft at the bottom of this post.
I had a difficult time trying to find out about the Pushawalla Palms Trail to plan our hike. Although I found some useful information from a few websites, I couldn’t find the exact GPS track of the trail. Gaia App, my go-to resource, did not have a complete route of this trail either. Fortunately, at the trailhead post there was a map of trails in the Preserve so I took a photo of it with my iPhone. You can download trail maps from the Preserve website. I recorded a GPS track of the hike before we headed out using Gaia App with an off-line map that I previously downloaded. It turned out to be extremely helpful to check our return route and to confirm that we were not taking the wrong trails.
The Pushawalla Palms Trail could be hiked as a loop. We did the hike clockwise and would recommend it done this way because the view got better as we returned through the ridge line. If you hike the trail clockwise, please note that after you get to the oasis it’s not obvious where the trail that continues past the oasis picks up. At the oasis, walk toward the palm grove. After you past the horse tie up post, look for the trail that continues along the side of the canyon on the left.
As I mentioned earlier, the hike back was even better. The view of the Coachella Valley from the ridge line was gorgeous. Watch your steps as you walk on narrow ridges with about 200-300 ft drop-offs on both sides. I felt safe hiking on this section but I tried not to walk and take photos at the same time.
The Pushawalla Palms Trail is one of those hikes that I didn’t have much expectation but it ended up being a really wonderful experience. I highly recommend it. Bring plenty of water if the weather will be warm.
- Date hiked: November 25, 2016
- Hiking time: 3h 33m
- Distance: Approx. 4.8 mi round-trip (loop)
- Elevation change: 580 ft gain
- Free to park and hike
- There is a warning sign at the trailhead about not leaving anything valuable in vehicles to avoid theft. We saw evidence of broken windshield on the parking lot ground.