Araby Trail (Palm Springs)
- Location: Southridge Drive and East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. From I-10, take the Gene Autry Trail exit (123) and head south for 6.1 miles. Turn right on East Palm Canyon Drive and follow it 0.9 mile to Southridge Drive. Turn left on Southridge Drive and park in a dirt lot on the corner of Rim Road by the information board. Alternately, from the eastern Coachella Valley, take I-10 to Cook Rd. (exit 134). Turn left and follow Cook one mile to Frank Sinatra Drive. Turn right and go 5.2 miles to Highway 111. Follow Highway 111 for a total of 3.2 miles until it turns north and continue straight onto East Palm Canyon Drive. Follow East Palm Canyon Drive for 0.9 mile and turn left onto Southridge Drive and park in the dirt turnout.
- Agency: Santa Rosa/San Jacinto Mountains National Monument
- Distance: 3.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: October – April, sunrise to dusk
- Dogs: Only allowed up to the Santa Rosa/San Jacinto Mountains Monument boundary (about half a mile from the beginning)
- Cell phone reception: Good
- Water: None
- Restrooms: None
- Camping/backpacking: None
- Recommended gear: hiking poles sunblock sun hat
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
- More information: Trip descriptions here, here, here and here
- Rating: 6
This short, steep trail is popular with locals, both as a convenient workout and for its panoramic views of the Coachella Valley. Another draw is the Bob Hope estate, the saucer-shaped home once owned by Hope and also at different times by Steve McQueen and William Holden. While the estate is in a gated community, this trail allows for as good a look at it as you can get without an invitation. As of this writing, the estate is currently on the market for a cool $25 million. (The HOA fees alone are over $5,000 per month.)
From the trail head, look for the signed Araby Trail on the opposite side of Southridge Drive. For the first 0.2 mile, the trail slinks between a mobile home park and a gated community. It then climbs steadily for half a mile, making switchbacks up the rocky slope, passing by mesquite, cholla cacti and other desert vegetation. The views of Palm Springs get better and better as you ascend. At 0.7 mile, you descend to a saddle below the Hope estate. By this point, noise from nearby Highway 111 is no longer a factor.
The trail then begins a rigorous ascent up a ridge, making a few more switchbacks. The San Jacinto massif dominates the landscape to the west while to the east, you’ll get more glimpses of the Coachella Valley sprawl with the Little San Bernardino Mountains beyond.
At 1.6 miles, you reach the top of the ridge, where the Araby Trail ends at the Berns Trail. Pointy Murray Hill can be seen to the south and you get a bird’s-eye perspective to the north. You can walk a short distance south, east or west for more expansive views before retracing your steps. Hikers who still have gas in the tank after completing the nearly 1,000-foot vertical ascent can continue on to Smoke Tree Mountain and make a loop by descending on the Shannon Trail.
Photo Gallery (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)
Text and photography copyright 2016 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.