Desert Hiking
by L. Bremner
Palm Springs, CA

One of my favorite hikes in the Coachella Valley is a moderate loop leading into Tahquitz Canyon.  The 2-mile, round-trip hike follows a creek into the canyon which leads to a 60-foot waterfall.  Along the trail you’ll encounter native plants and wildlife.

The Tahquitz Canyon Hiking Trail

Numerous canyon views and the creek flowing beside the path make this trail a real pleasure to hike.  While the nearby Indian Canyons also have water, wildlife and beautiful views, the Tahquitz Canyon trail is by far the most scenic.  The waterfall is a cool reprieve from the desert heat and a just reward for hiking the canyon.

There were red chuparosa and some yellow brittlebush blooming along the trail.

The day I hiked Tahquitz in March of 2020, it was still too early in the season for a good display of wildflowers, but there were a few blooms along the trail.  Bright red chuparosa bushes spotted the landscape and there were splashes of yellow brittlebush mixed in among the rocks and shrubs.  The best displays usually appear in late March and early April.

If you hike the trail, be sure to look back as you ascend the incline.  There are excellent views of the canyon below and of the city of Palm Springs.

The waterfall.

A few points of interest along the trail …

  1. Kak wa wit (Mouth of the Canyon) Entrance to Tahquitz Canyon. Named over 3000 years ago by Evonganet “Great Chief” of the Cahuilla people.
  2. Mi as kalet (A Grey Top) A large, white-tipped rock standing in the middle at the mouth of Tahquitz Canyon. Named by Ca wis ke on ca, leader of the Fox Tribe, who first settled here.
  3. Sacred Rock One of the oldest Cahuilla village sites. Rock art and bedrock mortars mark this sacred place. Artifacts found here date back 1000-1600 years ago.
  4. Cow is ic ela (The Fox’s Dress) A large rock sits on a huge boulder. Legend tells of  a young maiden who had the power to turn herself into the rock that bears her name.
  5. Tong wen neval (Place of Wasted Mescal) Remnants of the Lebacho – Tahquitz Creek ditch mark this area. Originally built in 1830 by the Cahuilla to bring water from the canyon to the village for drinking and irrigation.
  6. U.S. Geological Survey Gaging Station Built in 1947 by the USGS, it is still being monitored today.
  7. Tahquitz Falls (Water Falling Down) Originally named Pal hani kalet by Ca wis ke on ca, leader of the Fox Tribe who first settled here over 2000 years ago. This is a place of power. When you enter you are tired and weak, when you leave you are rejuvenated and energized.
  8. Green Tree Pool This is the overlook to Green Tree Pool, the site where a young Cahuilla maiden of the Fox Tribe was abducted and returned by Tahquitz, Guardian Spirit of all shamans.
  9. Cock wo wit (Piled Boulders) An ancient rock shelter where the oldest artifacts were found, dating over 2000 years ago.

A view of the creek flowing downstream.


The trail is only open daily (Sept. 1 – July 4th) from 7:30 am – 5:00 pm.  July 5th – Aug. 31st  open only Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 7:30 am – 5 PM. There is an admission fee to hike the canyon.  The fees are Adults $12.50 and Children (12 & under) $6.00.  Ranger-led hikes are scheduled several times a day and last about 2.5 hours.  If you hike the trail on your own it may only take you 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on your pace. No animals are allowed.

Hours and rates may change, so be sure and confirm hours of operation prior to visiting Indian Canyons.

For Information or Reservations call (760) 416-7044.

The trail head is located at the Visitor’s Center at 500 W. Mesquite in Palm Springs. The Visitor’s Center has a gift shop and bathroom facilities.  There are no bathrooms along the trail.

The Tahquitz Canyon and Indian Canyons are managed by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.