Pines to Palms

Palm Springs, California 92264

Pines to Palms

Pines to Palms Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Palm Canyon should be on every serious Southern California hiker’s to-do list. The canyon separates the San Jacinto Mountains and Desert Divide on the west from the Santa Rosa Mountains on the east and offers magnificent scenery in all directions. As it descends from the pinyon pines of the mountains to the cacti of the desert, it takes you past most of the Seussian plant life of the Upper and Lower Sonoran zones. The enormous palm oasis at the north end (bottom) of the trail is a fitting conclusion to a long but rewarding day. Those looking for a more casual hike suitable for children will enjoy roaming the oasis from the trailhead at Hermits Bench."

Pines to Palms Trip Reports

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Here is a link about my experience and pictures! Check it out. Please comment on my blog if you enjoyed and if you have any questions go for it :)
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Due to the very dry summer, my experience of hiking the El Moro Canyon trail was less stunning than it might be when the vegetation is "alive". Everything was extremely dry, brown, and covered with dust. We hiked up the trail along the canyon bottom to its end, then climbed up and returned to the parking lot via the southern ridge line. Great views of the ocean and surrounding countryside from the ridge tops. Lots of steep grades involved, and at least 8 miles or more roundtrip, so I'd classify this as not a route for beginners.

I'd like to try this trail again sometime during a lush, rainy summer. (If that ever happens again in our lifetime.)

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My brother, a friend and I chose this trail for a nice 2 hour morning hike to get our day stated off right. It seemed like a very simple park trail so I didn’t bring a topo – only the map from the trail guide that came in the download. We arrived around 8:30, paid our parking fee, picked up the free trail map, and set off. It was a foggy morning and the trail immediately twisted up out of the fog and gave us a strange feeling that we were at 10,000 feet, not 1,000. It was late summer so most of the foliage had surrendered their blooms to the heat and sun. There were, however, some beautiful trees along the canyon bottom and with the fog hugging the ground, it created a surreal environment. When we exited the canyon and climbed up the ‘elevator’ trail to make our loop and head back along El Morro ridge to the trail head, we encountered a problem. It appears there are three parks that back up to each other and all have their own trails that split off the main road at the NE end of Crystal Cove State Park. This made it almost impossible to interpret the crude park map which made no mention of these other park or their trails. In addition, the map from the guide doesn’t extend that far into the park. Anyway, we invariably took a wrong turn and ended up circling back along the wrong ridge and our two hour hike became five. We also encountered two other lost groups who were trying to interpret the crudely drawn park map. I’m not complaining, however, our 5 hours were filled with great views and fabulous weather. I definitely recommend this trail; however, the next time I will bring a topo map so I can enjoy the trails of all three parks together.
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Surprisingly enough, there are a few good hikes in Orange County - and this is one of them! I have done this hike numerous times and always have a wonderful experience! This is a great hike to do a little before sunset because you get great views of the ocean on your way up and then the beautiful sunset on your way down. I recommend going down the middle of the loop on the way back rather than staying along the ridge.
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Sunday, 1:15 P.M.

Southern California may not be known for its abundant wildlife,but this trail proved me wrong. I've hiked it many times before, but right now, it's a whole new trail. With the winter rains soaking into the ground, the wildflowers are going crazy, and the grass is high and green. You can almost imagine what this place looked like before the housing tracks popped up! The trail is, for the most part, bulldozed in,probably from a past fire. It dips and rises over the hills, and glides mellowly through the canyon below. Weathered rock alcoves and tall oaks and sycamores shade the bottom of the canyon. And there are several routes you can choose from, if you're tired of taking the same way each time. This is also a great place to pack a sleeping bag for one night and go sleep under the stars. But go soon, and pray for rain to keep this trail looking alive. Just sitting here, I can remember 10 different wildflowers...

Pines to Palms Photos

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Trail Information

Palm Springs
Nearby City
100 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
7 hours
Santa Rosa Mountains
Local Contacts

Trail Log