There are at least 10 hiking trails throughout the Preserve and as the name Thousand Palms implies, many lead to palm groves. The McCallum Trail passes through 2 groves, a riparian forest and a large pond oasis. To get to Squaw Hill from the Visitor Center 2 smaller palm groves line the trail. Indian Palms is a set of 2 groves separated by a hill.
Today we visit Hidden Palms tucked into a small canyon across the street and southeast from the Visitor Center.
Harlan, one of the trail guides walks with us as we head toward the ridge of Pushawalla through the wash. Most of the trail disappeared after the recent October 13th flash flood and I take some photos to share with our Preserve Manager, Ginny Short.
The sign below leads to Willis Palms. Can you find the trail? Neither could we.
Instead of hiking up the switchback and cutting through the ridge of Pushawalla to get to Hidden Palms, we follow Harlan to learn more about desert plants and observe new growth and blooms from the recent rains. (We head toward Willis Palms.)
Meanwhile, I practice identifying plants and shrubs, such as arrowweed below.
We head south and pass the hill to Pushawalla Ridge.
Looking back, I take a pic of smoke trees in the desert wash.
Desert trumpet is plentiful here. Harlan explains that the oblong swells along the stem are filled with carbon dioxide and the Cahuilla used to fill them with tobacco to smoke.
The brittle bush below is not dead.
The leafless plant surprises us with its sticky amber resin.
Nearby is a blooming brittle bush.
After showing us his secret off-trail spot to observe blooming plants, Harlan departs and Jeff and I continue south toward Willis Palms. We are taking the roundabout trail to Hidden Palms that takes us parallel to Thousand Palms Canyon Road and Washington Street.
Looking back… Cheese weed thrives among dead smoke trees in the wash. Across the street the palm grove of the Smoke Tree Ranch Trail stands to the left of Squaw Hill.
A babbling brook trickles along the wash beside the trail; the result of the recent flash flood.
The artistic effects of salt and sand striations…
And coyote tracks…
The hills… Notice how they look raked, almost as if a giant hand scraped its fingers down through them.
As we head east parallel to Washington Street, golden cholla cactus glow in the sunlight.
At the road to Covered Wagon Tours we head north toward Hidden Palms.
A cluster of beaver-tailed cactus greets us. Notice the tiny pink bud ready to bloom.
The thick palm skirts create the optimum habitat for desert wildlife.
We walk through the palm grove and take the trail to Pushawalla, cross over the ridge and return to the Visitor Center.