A mere 130 miles southeast of Los Angeles lies the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument — 272,000 acres of preserved desert beauty that serves as a hiker’s paradise and refuge from the stress of city life. Sunset Magazine recently named La Quinta’s hiking and biking trails among the best in the west, and there’s no better way to explore the magnificence of the Coachella Valley than on foot.
La Quinta features hiking trails to accommodate every skill level, including families with young children and hard-core endurance hikers. Keep in mind, the Coachella Valley is a spectacular stretch of untamed, and sometimes isolated, desert landscape, so proper preparations should be made before setting out on any hiking excursion. Expert level, or multi-day hikes are best done between November and April when the weather is more suited to strenuous treks.
First time visitors may be interested in the historic routes like the La Quinta Cove to Lake Cahuilla Trail (2.5 miles). Start your adventure at the East Cove trail head and make your way past the Coral Reef Mountains to the Lake Cahuilla trail head. Modern day Lake Cahuilla, named after the early native inhabitants who relied on the lake’s resources to live, is now a reservoir surrounded by a 710-acre park connected by a vast network of hiking trails. The varied terrain treats guests to native flora and fauna, including the endangered peninsula big horned sheep.
Casual day trippers can also explore the Bear Creek Trail. This hike is just under one mile and will take you from the La Quinta Cove to the cave along the Bear Creek Trail. Ready to step up the pace? The Bear Creek Canyon Oasis hike (8.3 miles) allows for sweeping views of Bear Creek Canyon and the entire Coachella Valley. The popular Boo Hoff Trail is a more ambitious 7.5-mile hike which can still be fit into a day trip, however, the full 12.8-mile loop is best tackled by the more skilled hiker. Your exertions will be well rewarded with killer vistas and, no doubt, a sense of accomplishment.
Experts and advanced back-packers have their work cut out for them with the La Quinta Cove to Sugarloaf Trail, a 14.2-mile multi-day hike that can be rugged and undefined in many areas. This challenging trail features a vertical up hike culminating at an elevation of 5,578 feet. Reviewers recommend that first timers go with an experienced hiker with knowledge of these trails.
The La Quinta and Coachella Valley have become one of the nation’s pre-eminent hiking destinations, thanks to the region’s inviting temperatures and magnificent scenic diversity. If you’re a traveler that ops for a vacation that’s both invigorating and restorative, check out the most popular hikes in La Quinta and surrounding areas, and plan your next trip to Gem of the Desert!