Winter in Palm Springs, part 2
The valley is an excellent location for hiking, everything from short mile hikes to multi-day adventures. We chose a few of the short variety. The Whitewater Preserve, part of the Wildlands Conservancy, is located about 10 miles northwest of Palm Springs in the BLM’s San Gorgonio Wilderness. The central part of the center is an old trout farm, the remaining building, trees, and ponds are the center of the park. It is surrounded by the desert landscape that is the home of deer, bear, and bighorn sheep. They also purchased the 40,032-acre BLM range allotment to remove cattle for the property. This will improve the water supply by eliminating the cattle wallows.
We visited Whitewater twice. The first time to walk around the grounds and check out possible hikes. We met a friendly roadrunner there. The second time we embarked on the 3 1/2 mile Canyon View Trail. The trail climbed the side of one of the hills, linked with the Pacific Coast Trail for a short time, then descended into the valley. The views were, and we ended the day tried and exhilarated. We planned to return, I will explain later why we did not.
JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
Joshua Tree National Park is about 40 minutes north of Palm Springs. We visited three times. From Palm Springs, Joshua Tree NP is accessible by CA 62 into Yacca Valley, a drive of about 60 miles. After entering the park, we were quickly surrounded by vast desert plains filled with the tree surrounded by gigantic rock formations. The Joshua trees, a type of yucca, are strangely shaped with arms reaching out at odd angles. (The trees were named by the early Mormons because they looked like Joshua reaching up to praise God.) Thousands of the trees stretched across the land.
We drove around a bit, then decided to take the Barker Dam Trail. Built by the old-time cowboys to provided water for the cattle in the hot summer months. The trail was a relatively easy climb up among the towering rocks to reach the small lake. Then down across an open field of JTs. With the many feet that have traversed the trail the stone was worn smooth. Our second stop was Keys View. Bill Keys was an early cattleman in this area. The overlook provides a fantastic view of the whole Coachella Valley, San Rosa Mountain behind Rancho Mirage, San Jacinto Mountain behind Palm Springs and the San Andres Fault traversing the valley floor. Traveling back through the park we stopped to watch the rock climbers scaling the many formations. We ended our day with a stop at the Joshua Tree Salon near the entrance. A burger and beer a great way to end the day.
We also went on several short hikes in and around Palm Springs.