Difficulty G Distance 0 to 2 miles General information: Hikes with free parking Rating: 4-6 San Jacinto/Santa Rosa Mountains & Joshua Tree Season: Fall/Early Winter

Coachella Valley Preserve (McCallum Nature Trail)


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McCallum Nature Trail, Coachella Valley Preserve, Thousand Palms, CA
View of the desert on the McCallum Nature Trail
Cottonwood Tree, McCallum Nature Trail
Cottonwood Tree, McCallum Nature Trail

Coachella Valley Preserve (McCallum Nature Trail)

  • Location: East of Palm Springs, Coachella Valley.  From I-10, take the Bob Hope Drive exit.  Turn right and go 0.2 miles to Ramon Road.  Turn left and go 4.8 miles to Thousand Palms Canyon Road.  Turn left and go 2 miles to the visitor’s center. Turn left into the lot.  Parking is free but donations are encouraged.
  • Agency: Coachella Valley Preserve
  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 100 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season:  October – March
  • USGS topo map: “Myoma”
  • Recommended gear: sun hat
  • Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
  • More information:  Preserve homepage here; Yelp page here; trip descriptions here and here
  • Rating: 5
Visitor center, Coachella Valley Preserve, Thousand Palms, CA
0:00 – Visitor center (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

This short trail serves as a nice introduction to the landscape of the Coachella Valley Preserve. If you don’t have time for the longer Pushwalla/Horseshoe loop, the walk to and from McCallum Pond is an enjoyable excursion.

0:02 - McCallum Trail Head, Paul Wilhelm Palm Grove (times are approximate)
0:02 – McCallum Trail Head, Paul Wilhelm Palm Grove (times are approximate)

From the parking area, head toward the visitor center. The rustic building, cozily hidden in the tall palms of the Paul Wilhelm Grove, is worth a visit; inside you will find displays including fragments of Indian pottery, animal bones, maps, guides to plant and animal life and more. You may also be able to get a trail guide here.

The McCallum Nature Trail begins past the visitor’s center, near the restrooms. Follow it into a the palms, where you will walk on a boardwalk. Stay right as another trail (also a boardwalk) branches off to the left and soon you will exit the grove. The trail meets up with another trail from the parking lot; stay straight and head toward the palms, which will now be in sight.

Trail junction, McCallum Nature Trail, Coachella Valley Preserve
0:12 – Junction with the other trail from the parking lot

Just before the grove, you’ll reach a Y-junction. Head right and soon you’ll reach the pond, where you can sit and enjoy its peacefulness beneath the shade of the palms. The pond is home to the endangered Desert Pupfish.

Continuing past the pond, you reach another junction. You can extend your hike to a part of the preserve known as Moon Country by heading right but if it’s a hot day and you’re short on time, you can return to the visitor’s center by heading left. Soon you’ll rejoin the McCallum Trail, heading back to the visitor’s center.

McCallum Pond, Coachella Valley Preserve, Thousand Palms, CA
0:22 – McCallum Pond,

Text and photography copyright 2014 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

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