The Palm Desert Cross (officially the St. Margaret’s Cross) is a popular destination for Coachella Valley hikers, offering a quick and convenient workout with some nice views of the area. The out-and-back to the cross can be done in an hour or so and makes a good before or after work jaunt, but ambitious hikers with more time can easily extend the hike on the Hopalong Cassidy Trail in either direction.
The start of the Homestead Trail is vaguely defined. From the parking area, simply find your way across the wash before picking up the true beginning of the trail. It climbs steadily to Engstrom Point, an overlook 0.2 mile from the beginning. The trail then resumes its stiff ascent to a Y-junction with the Hopalong Cassidy Trail. The right fork leads downhill, eventually hooking up with the Herb Jeffries Trail and the Bump’n’Grind loop. To reach the cross, bear left and continue climbing up the exposed ridge.
At 0.6 mile, the grade becomes more moderate; by now you have climbed 400 feet and only have 250 to go in the half mile left to reach the cross, which is now visible to the left. The trail bends south and curves around the edge of a ravine before making its final climb to the cross. The 30-foot cross, held up by wires, lights up at dusk, adding drama to the panoramic desert and mountain views.
Text and photography copyright 2017 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.