Cellular Service Difficulty G Distance 0 to 2 miles Dogs allowed Hikes with free parking Rating: 4-6 San Jacinto/Santa Rosa Mountains & Joshua Tree Season: All year

Dos Palmas Preserve


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  • Location: Riverside County, northeast of the Salton Sea. From the Salton Sea State Recreation Area near the town of North Shore on Highway 111 (10.8 miles southeast of Mecca and 67 miles north of El Centro) head east on Parkside Drive for 1.8 miles. Turn right onto Desert Aire Drive, go 0.4 mile and bear left onto Power Line Road (dirt). Follow Power Line Road for 0.6 mile to Dos Palmas Road (signed on Google Maps as Sea Breeze Drive). Bear right and follow this road, also dirt (but passable by all vehicles) for 1.7 miles to a metal gate. The trail head and small parking area will be on the right.
  • Agency: Bureau of Land Management/Palm Springs Office; Center for Natural Lands Management
  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Elevation gain: Level
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 30 minutes
  • Best season: October – May
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on hot days)
  • Cell phone reception: Good
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: Vault style toilets at the trail head
  • Camping: None
  • More information: Trip description here; Article about the geological and seismic history of the area here
  • Rating: 5

If you’re looking for a hike that’s about as far off the beaten path as you can get in So Cal, the Dos Palmas Preserve is your spot. Under the radar (and below sea level), Dos Palmas is likely to be deserted even on winter weekends when Joshua Tree National Park is filled with tourists. For many visitors, this trip will likely be a long drive for a very short hike, but you can also visit the Salton Sea, the Mecca Hills Wilderness or any number of other unusual destinations in this area and make a day trip out of it. You can also add two miles to this hike by visiting the Dos Palmas Oasis, although some may find the flat hike along a dirt road tedious.

The trip described here visits the San Andreas Palms which are named after the (in)famous fault line. It is thought that activity along the San Andreas Fault has created the springs that feed this oasis and the Dos Palmas Oasis a mile to the east. The San Andreas Trail leads from the parking area across the desert plain, taking in vast views on both sides. In 0.3 mile, you cross a service road and enter the oasis. Some of the palms have been cut and fire damaged but there are still enough to provide some shade. The trail meanders through the grove before rejoining the service road. Turn left and follow the road 0.1 mile back to the previous junction, where you’ll retrace your steps to the parking area. If you want to continue to the Dos Palmas Oasis, head east past the gate on Dos Palmas Road.

Dos Palmas Preserve, Mecca, CA
Start of the San Andreas Trail
Dos Palmas Preserve, Mecca, CA
Mesquite bush at the Dos Palmas Preserve
San Andreas Oasis, Mecca, CA
San Andreas Oasis palms
San Andreas Oasis, Dos Palmas Preserve, Mecca, CA
Among the San Andreas Oasis palms

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.

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