After you inch your way down the main drag of Palm Springs, past the restaurants, clubs, shops, noise and famed Palm Canyon Walk of Stars , a peaceful journey awaits.


Continue down South Palm Canyon Drive, along the dusty road dotted with flash flood signs warning “Turn Around or Drown.” At the end you will find yourself at the entrance to the Agua Caliente Cahuilla Indian Reservation and some of the most magical hiking trails in Southern California.


Entrance fees to Palm Canyon, Andreas Canyon and Murray Canyon range from $9.00 for adults to $5.00 for children for adventure on foot as well as horseback.


The most spiritual of all the trails is Palm Canyon – 15 miles at most and ranges from easy to strenuous in difficulty level. Or you can just have lunch at a picnic table, surrounded by the largest California Fan Palm Oasis in the world, which has been there for centuries, originally settled by the Agua Caliente Native Californians.


The trail winds along a canyon of palms, pools and streams, surrounded in dramatic contrast by ancient rocky gorges jutting straight up to the sky and the barren desert that is the Coachella Valley. There’s a new surprise after every turn. Handmade rock sculptures turn up out of nowhere on the way up. If you’re lucky, you might even encounter one of the Granite Spiney Lizards that call this quiet canyon home, taking a sunbath.


Finish off the day at the trading post for souvenirs and more fascinating facts on Native Californians.


And remember your water!


Photo credit: Erik Glode

Michele Stueven