“A tough hike from the parking lot east of the Santa Rosa Mountains Visitor Center to the Desert Crossing Shopping Center.”
— Mitch Moldenhauer
This hike takes in beautiful views of both the Bighorn Golf Club, Stone Eagle Golf Club, the Palm Desert Cross, as well as great solitude weaving through some very rocky hillsides. The advantage of taking this trail from south to north, in contrast to how the Hopalong Cassidy Trail
is mapped in the opposite direction, is that there are more options to exit the trail on the back half of the trail if you get tired or if you are short on time. It is possible to exit the trail at both Adams-Homme Park and Cahuilla Hills Park. It is also has a net elevation loss for the point-to-point trip.
Need to Know
The first third of the route is remote, and you need to be prepared to be on your own. There is no water along the route, and you need to take plenty. As a point-to-point hike, you can leave a second car at the Desert Crossing Shopping Center or arrange for pick-up from the north end.
Beginning at the parking lot west of the Santa Rosa Mountains Visitor Center, the trail follows the Art Smith Trail
west away from Highway 74. After a mile and a half, of which half of it is climbing, you reach the beginning of the Hopalong Cassidy Trail
to the right. The trail goes northbound with beautiful views of the Bighorn Golf Course and Palm Desert.
The Hopalong Cassidy Trail
winds up and down through canyons before turning eastbound along the southern boundary of Stone Eagle Golf Club. This section of the trail should allow for some peaceful solitude before reaching the Palm Desert Cross, which will likely have numerous hikers. From this point, there are several intersecting trails, and it is important to follow the sign posts in order to stay on the correct trail.
With so many trail intersections, there is also more activity on the trail for the rest of the hike north. You'll likely see everything from trail runners to dog walkers from this point on. Overall, this a long hike that is not recommended for those those who are not in shape for a 10 mile hike. There is no water along the trail, so you must bring plenty for the trip.
Flora & Fauna
Barrel cactus, Cholla, and Creosote are found along the way. A more complete list can be found here
. You are likely to see a variety of birds and lizards along the way, and it is possible to see Desert Bighorn Sheep in this area. It is possible to encounter rattlesnakes so it is wise to be aware of them and not to put one's hands where you can't see in the rocky outcroppings. It is not likely to see any bobcats or coyotes, but they are in the region.