Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hiking Palm Springs - Museum Trail - It's a real butt burner!

For many visitors, Palm Springs is a place of indulgence. Sure, there are the spas and golf clubs, which give this place the air of healthful tourism. But fine restaurants, bars and night clubs line the streets, so after an evening of excess many folks find they are in need of a rigorous workout. Fortunately, hiking trails abound out here in the desert, and some are accessible within walking distance of downtown.

Rising from Palm Springs, the prominent peak of Murray Hill in the distance
One such trail is the Palm Springs Museum Trail. Don't be fooled by the distance - at only two miles out-and-back one might mistake this trail for a walk in the park. In fact, it is a real butt-burner. Dozens of short switchbacks take you up a ridge line a full 1,000 feet in just one mile. Once you reach the top you will be rewarded with some amazing views. 

Watch for the white dots; staying on trail helps prevent erosion
To find the trailhead, go to the iconic Marilyn Monroe statue on Palm Canyon Drive, turn up Tahquitz Canyon Drive toward the mountain, go one block, then turn right on North Museum Drive. Pass the Palm Springs Art Museum, turn left, into the museum's north parking lot, and drive to the back corner. There it is! 

These red-spined, white-tipped barrel cacti dot rocky slopes along the trail
It takes about an hour to reach the top of the Palm Springs Museum Trail. Then it's a quick 25 minutes or so to reach the bottom again. White dots on boulders will show you the way. There are a lot of social trails that crisscross the main trail, cutting the switchbacks, but taking these will increase erosion and may eventually cause the trail to be closed. 

This hike has major payoff, so make sure to stop and enjoy to view!
If you're ready for more once you reach the summit, the Palm Springs Museum Trail links with the North Lykken Trail just past the summit. You can follow the North Lykken Trail to the left or the right for as long as you like - just be sure to retrace your tracks back to the trailhead. Or, you can try this alternate loop back to your starting point. Go left when you reach the North Lykken Trail and you will eventually reach the trailhead on Ramon Road. There, you can take Ramon to Cahuilla and turn left (or Palm Canyon if you don't mind looking like a sweaty mess as you walk down Palm Springs' main drag) and return to the art museum where you started. This loop is approximately 3.5 miles.

Palm Springs Museum Trail - don't be fooled by the trail's dainty name
So, are you ready to try the Palm Springs Museum Trail? Here are the stats:

Trailhead: Northwest corner of the north parking lot of the Palm Springs Art Museum
Distance: 2 miles, out-and-back
Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,000/1,000
Map: You don't need a map for this trail, but I recommend you buy the new Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Trail Map online at the Friends of the Desert Mountains Gift Shop.
Hiking Time: About 1.5 hours out-and-back.
Best Times to Hike: This hike can be brutal in the summer, so if you do it then make sure you go super early in the morning. Fall through spring it's a great hike any time of day; still, it's best to do it early in the morning or in the evening just before the sun tucks away behind San Jacinto Peak. In the evening, take a head lamp just in case - the sun sets hard out here in the desert.
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous. Though it's short, it is a real butt buster!

Getting caught on the trail after dark can be dangerous; carry a light!
I hope you enjoy the Palm Springs Museum Trail. If you try it out, let me know. Leave me a comment below! I love to hear from my readers and promise to respond to all comments. Also, to read more about outdoor adventure, check out my blog Man of Merit. For more fitness-related reading, check out MyFitLife2Day. Lots of pics and useful info on both! Oh, and while you're at it, follow me on Twitter @myfitlife2day

Happy hiking!