For a more curated experience check out trail guides from our partner publishers.
Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
by David & Jennifer Money Harris (Wilderness Press)
The Cactus Spring “Trail” is one of the wildest routes in the Santa Rosa Mountains, following an old Indian path from the forested heights around Martinez Mtn. down rugged Martinez Canyon to the date palm groves near the Salton Sea. The first half follows an established but sometimes faint trail; the second requires cross-country navigation skills. Long pants and gaiters are recommended because of the brush in Martinez Canyon and the perpetual cactus hazards.
Best Easy Day Hikes: Palm Springs and Coachella Valley
by Bruce Grubbs (Falcon Guides)
This scenic trail winds through a mix of pinyon pine, juniper, and chaparral past an abandoned gypsum mine to Horsethief Canyon, a wilderness canyon with a seasonal stream. It’s a good introduction to the Santa Rosa Wilderness.
100 Hikes in Southern California: San Bernardino Mountain Trails
by John W. Robinson with David Money Harris (Wilderness Press)
This trip follows the Cactus Spring Trail from near the Palms to Pines Scenic Byway down across Horsethief Creek, then up over miles of rolling plateau country covered by an el?n forest of pinyon and juniper, to Agua Alta Spring. Agua Alta (High Water) Spring, creased into the south slope of Martinez Mountain, ?ows sparingly over green slime among cat’s-claw bushes and bunch grass—not much to look at, but a heaven-sent source of water for the bighorn sheep that roam this region. Keep a sharp lookout; you may spot some of these noble animals climbing the rocky slopes of Martinez Mountain or coming down for water.
Five-Star Trails Palm Springs
by Laura Randall (Menasha Ridge Press)
This moderately challenging hike is the primary access route into the starkly beautiful Santa Rosa Wilderness. It zigzags through fields of sentinel yuccas and cacti, past an abandoned limestone quarry, and across a shaded creek, deep into the arid desert wilderness. The first 2.3 miles to Horsethief Creek are mostly downhill; then the trail heads out of the canyon for a rough and steep 4.5 miles to Cactus Springs (which is always dry) with views of the 6,500-foot pine-covered Martinez Mountain.
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