Art Smith Trail, Palm Desert

Palm Springs, California 92292

Art Smith Trail, Palm Desert

Art Smith Trail, Palm Desert Professional Review and Guide

"Named after a local trail builder, this well-maintained trail is a longtime favorite of Palm Springs hikers and equestrians. It begins just off CA 74 in Palm Desert and switchbacks up a hillside before leveling and meandering for several miles past a series of palm oases and views of the Coachella Valley.

It totals 6 miles out-and-back, but many day hikers take it to the second palm oasis or to Magnesia Springs Canyon, and then they turn back before the trail ends at Dunn Road, a vehicle-restricted road that leads to Cathedral City."

More Art Smith Trail, Palm Desert Professional Reviews and Guides

"This ride is located north of Palm Desert in the Santa Rosa Mountains National Scenic Area. From its origin in Dead Indian Canyon, this 16.7-mile out-and-back singletrack route takes you through a diverse desert garden of cacti s you follow a couple of sandy washes into a canyon. The impeccably signed and maintained path then begins climbing sharply up switchbacks while passing signs erected in tribute to the trail's namesake. You will dismount and carry your bike with frequency. This trail is exclusively a ride for the young and young at heart. if you're riding like you're youthful, strong, and immortal, this is paradise. But if you feel old, blasé', or timid, it's an ordeal."

"The Santa Rosa Mountains are an undiscovered wonderland of cactus, yucca, palm oases, and outlandish rock formations located south of Palm Springs. The Art Smith Trail, named for the former trail boss of the Desert Riders equestrian group, invites you to lose yourself among varnished canyons, sandy washes, and boulder-studded slopes. If you are lucky, you might see one of the few remaining Peninsular bighorn sheep that roam the hills. This foray into the heart of the Santa Rosas explores one of the hidden gems of Southern California. You can do this trip as an out-and-back with a camp at the Mike Dunn Desert Riders Oasis. Alternatively, with a shuttle, you can continue out any of numerous trails in the Palm Canyon area to reach Palm Springs."

"The Art Smith Trail connects CA 74, the Palms to Pines Highway, with Dunn Road, climbing the east slopes of the Santa Rosa Mountains. A palm oasis hidden deep in the mountains is the goal for this hike, which is on the eastern section of the trail."

"The Art Smith Trail, named in 1977 for the late long-time Trail Boss of the Desert Riders who was responsible for the development of numerous routes in these mountains, is the gem of the northern Santa Rosas, offering a grand tour through the heart of the wilderness. The trail features outrageous cacti, outlandish rock formations, several small palm oases, and a chance to commune with the desert. Despite its length and the rugged terrain, the trail gains less elevation than might be expected. Those looking for a quick jaunt can hike 3 miles out past palm oases to a vista point, then return. For a longer hike, go all 8 miles to the end at Dunn Rd., then return. Or better yet, connect to the Hahn Buena Vista Trail and follow it down to Fern and Palm Canyons."

Art Smith Trail, Palm Desert Reviews

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AWESOME TRAIL! This was an endurance run for my son and myself. We run with Garmin GPS 305's so we always know the distance, elevation and navigation. We started at Dunn Road and went up a couple of miles then intersected the Cathedral Canyon Trail (to the right). There were no trail markers at Dunn Road and Cat Cyn but prior review of trail maps indicated it's existence. We took it to the west and about 2.5 miles into it we intersected the Vandeventer trail (Well marked and took it to the left). We ran on that for about 1 mile until it intersected the Hahn Buena Vista Trail (Also well marked and went left). We ran Hahn until it crested the mountain and crossed Dunn Road and joined Art Smith Trail (at the picnic tables). 6.5 miles to this point. We took Art Smith for 8 miles to the Hwy 74 trailhead. The trails were in great shape and the views of the mountain ranges were spectacular. DO NOT attempt this trail without lots of water. It is quite technical and depending on the temperature, you may find yourself in BIG trouble!
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Do the big loop and keep the snivelin' for your spouse! This is a fun ride with all the things an xc race course should have(except Guinness and strippers). Great singletrack, but watch your line, as "cat-claw" cactus will bleed you dry.

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Trail Information

Palm Springs
Nearby City
1,500 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
3-4 hours
Palm Desert Visitor Center, 760-568-1441 or 800-873-2428,; Bureau of Land Management, 760-862-9984
Local Contacts

Activity Feed

Sep 2018