Summer riding spots near Palm Springs- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Summer riding spots near Palm Springs

    Can anyone recommend trails close to Palm Springs that are reasonable to do in the summer? Im going there next month for a friends bday and want to do some riding instead of strictly drinking by the pool. I had hopes for a few moments I could take my bike up the aerial tramway to escape the desert heat, but thats not allowed. Also hoped to do the famous palm canyon epic or the palms to pines trail, but with the 105+ degree weather, even by 8am, and my lack of experience riding in the desert, I feel it might be too risky.

    Any body have tips or suggestions?

  2. #2
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    How far are you wiling to drive?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpearce1475 View Post
    How far are you wiling to drive?
    Well Im just in PS for a weekend next month. Id like to keep the drive around 45min to an hour or less. I know PS area has awesome trails, but its probably too hot in June. Is there anything with higher elevation within an hour drive?

  4. #4
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    PS does not have any "awesome trail"s other than the PCE. Idyllwild has some awesome riding and is at elevation, I believe around 5000', but is around an hour+ away depending on where you are in PS.
    EXODUX Jeff

  5. #5
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    Palm Springs will probably be night riding.

    Regardless, if you want to ride, I would suggest "The Goat Trails" behind the Vons on 111. There are some fun trails there. As you start at the bottom, you can always roll down if you think you've gone too far in the heat.

  6. #6
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    I have ridden out there many times during the year, rain, wind, and heat, day or night. Being out there by yourself at night will test your will power or stupidity in my case
    Don't kid yourself about riding in the heat. You will find that you will be the only person around so don't think someone will come by soon to help out if needed. I've started in 105 degrees at 5PM before and I'm not saying it's the smartest thing to do by yourself. After you get more than a mile away you won't see hikers for the most part. Down load trailforks app and check the trails out beforehand.

    1. The goat trails- Behind Vons and park in their lot. I don't trust the folks hanging around the TH. Start by climbing up the road and go until you run outta legs and/or time, turn around and find interesting single track down. Not hard to find you way around up there. It's rocky and steep in places so top off your sealant or carry a tube. The view at night is unreal but please read the first paragraph again

    2. La Quinta area/Boo Hoff trails- Probably your best bet here. Head off to the right going south/west bound. Heading straight to Boo Hoff or left to the cove to lake trail and you will find DEEP sand. Have fun pushing through that. I find the trails over on the right fun to play on and you'll be able to find your way around to Boo Hoff and up if you want. Turn around when you feel like it and take the ST braids where you want back to the car.

    Once again, drink a lot of water a least two days before and drink as you ride. You won't feel like your losing fluid since it drys so quick.
    If you ride out there, be prepared and have a safe time
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  7. #7
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    The way this year is going you might luck out and get a couple days of cooler weather in June. It was 72 and 79 in Palm Desert on Saturday/Sunday. Even if it's 90+ you can still get out, just be hydrated and ride early or late as noted. I wouldn't try Palm Canyon on your own. That time of year you won't see anyone else out there.

    A couple other options would be to ride up Santa Rosa Mtn and down Sawmill Trail to Road 7S01 or ride a loop using the two upper Palm Canyon options. The area is around 4,000 ft so it will be a few degrees cooler up there. Santa Rosa Mtn summit is around 8,000. Idyllwild is going to be 60-90mins away. It has good riding as mentioned but also gets hot this time of year and the flies/gnats can be horrific. Also I think Hwy 243 from Banning is still closed so you'd have to take Hwy 74. A better option would be to head over to Angelus Oaks and ride SART. That is about an hour drive give or take depending on your starting point. Flies can also be an issue there but temps should be a bit cooler.

    If none of that sounds good just take the aerial tram up and do some hiking. Mt San Jacinto is almost 11,000 and has spectacular views in all directions. Well worth it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post
    The way this year is going you might luck out and get a couple days of cooler weather in June. It was 72 and 79 in Palm Desert on Saturday/Sunday. Even if it's 90+ you can still get out, just be hydrated and ride early or late as noted. I wouldn't try Palm Canyon on your own. That time of year you won't see anyone else out there.

    A couple other options would be to ride up Santa Rosa Mtn and down Sawmill Trail to Road 7S01 or ride a loop using the two upper Palm Canyon options. The area is around 4,000 ft so it will be a few degrees cooler up there. Santa Rosa Mtn summit is around 8,000. Idyllwild is going to be 60-90mins away. It has good riding as mentioned but also gets hot this time of year and the flies/gnats can be horrific. Also I think Hwy 243 from Banning is still closed so you'd have to take Hwy 74. A better option would be to head over to Angelus Oaks and ride SART. That is about an hour drive give or take depending on your starting point. Flies can also be an issue there but temps should be a bit cooler.

    If none of that sounds good just take the aerial tram up and do some hiking. Mt San Jacinto is almost 11,000 and has spectacular views in all directions. Well worth it.
    As a local, I would mirror this. Also, the Axe Handle is an out and back with a little loop on the end that some of the locals do on Wednesday nights during the hotter months. The out and back of the Axe Handle is the first part of the PCE. You park next to the Sugarloaf Cafe or the campground. During most years, the bugs on the Sawmill Trail, and other trails as you head east from Idyllwild, are much less prolific than the bugs in the Idyllwild area. This year may be different because of the extra rain.

  9. #9
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    Sounds like there are a few summer options for a self sufficient person. Id like to try it. If all else fails bouldering up San Jancinto is the call I guess. Thank you very much everyone!

  10. #10
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    The window for Cactus to the Clouds is quickly closing. Do a search on this forum for info.
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    Ripping trails and tipping ales

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vader View Post
    The window for Cactus to the Clouds is quickly closing. Do a search on this forum for info.
    I love technical climbing, but this route is mostly hike-a-bike. Are you trying to get people to kill themselves? There has to be reasonable seat time on the descent to make it worthwhile. The Cactus to the Clouds Trail is a nice strenuous hike though. I haven't hiked it since I was a kid over three decades ago. There used to be native trout in the streams before the droughts of the past few decades.
    Taking the Guadalupe Trail down from the Pinyon Pines area has a lot more rideable terrain per mile. If you are looking for even a little more rideable terrain between dismounts, the Bear Creek Trail is another.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by TTTURNER View Post
    Taking the Guadalupe Trail down from the Pinyon Pines area has a lot more rideable terrain per mile. If you are looking for even a little more rideable terrain between dismounts, the Bear Creek Trail is another.
    Interesting you would mention Guadalupe. I hiked it from Pinyon Flat via Cactus Spring on Monday. Cool trail, but it's in Santa Rosa Wilderness so not open to bikes. I usually envision myself riding a trail while I hike. But I was glad I didn't have my bike on this one. It is definitely technical and there are a lot of short sections that would require dismount. The bigger problem is a lot of the descent would be way too hard to follow trying to ride a bike. On foot I had to stop constantly and visually search for the next cairn. The trail is overgrown and almost impossible to see when you couldn't spot a cairn. Only the last 1000ft or so would have been fun to ride. Once on Boo Hoff I was back to wishing I had my bike.

    Cactus to clouds on the other hand was very rideable on the descent. We took our pedals off for the climb so that was 100% HAB. I only remember a few spots we had to get off and walk and that was because we were absolutely beat. I wouldn't recommend Cactus to clouds as a ride unless I know someone is into raw backcountry rides. DFT has done it around six times. No one he invited ever came back and rode it a second time, if that tells you anything.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post
    Interesting you would mention Guadalupe. I hiked it from Pinyon Flat via Cactus Spring on Monday. Cool trail, but it's in Santa Rosa Wilderness so not open to bikes. I usually envision myself riding a trail while I hike. But I was glad I didn't have my bike on this one. It is definitely technical and there are a lot of short sections that would require dismount. The bigger problem is a lot of the descent would be way too hard to follow trying to ride a bike. On foot I had to stop constantly and visually search for the next cairn. The trail is overgrown and almost impossible to see when you couldn't spot a cairn. Only the last 1000ft or so would have been fun to ride. Once on Boo Hoff I was back to wishing I had my bike.

    Cactus to clouds on the other hand was very rideable on the descent. We took our pedals off for the climb so that was 100% HAB. I only remember a few spots we had to get off and walk and that was because we were absolutely beat. I wouldn't recommend Cactus to clouds as a ride unless I know someone is into raw backcountry rides. DFT has done it around six times. No one he invited ever came back and rode it a second time, if that tells you anything.
    The Cactus to Clouds Trail, and trails in this area in general, are seeing so many more hikers than when I grew up hiking them that many are in much better shape for mountain biking. I'm not surprised to hear this about the Cactus to Clouds Trail. It was't a real rideable trail from what I remember. The Goat Trails and Cathedral Canyon trails are also so much better than before because of all of the extra people hiking them. There's not many technical sections left on many of our trails in the area.
    Are you guys pushing your bikes all the way up the Cactus to Clouds, or are you stapping them to your back? That just doesn't sound very fun.
    The Guadalupe is brutal. There's was a new trail cut around the year 2000 about 10 miles up the Santa Rosa Mountain road. I was told that that it was cut by the forestry service. It ran over to the Sawmill. I don't know if it is still there. They were trying to get us to ride it into shape, but it was easy to lose also. I lost the trail on a late afternoon ride where I didn't give myself enough daylight. I had to backtrack about a mile. It sucked.
    If the Guadalupe was legal, you could go up Santa Rosa to that trail and connect the Guadalupe and Boo Hoff all the way to the La Quinta Cove. That would be a real epic.
    A few of my old riding buddies rode the Guadalupe around 2001. They should have hiked it first because they didn't like trashing their expensive cross country shoes having to dismount frequently.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleMtnSlayer View Post
    Sounds like there are a few summer options for a self sufficient person. Id like to try it. If all else fails bouldering up San Jancinto is the call I guess. Thank you very much everyone!
    If bouldering is a recreational option, I would consider not even bringing a bike. South Ridge, County Park, etc. in Idyllwild has the goods. Check with Nomad Ventures in town for add'l info. Tag Taquitz summit (primitive trail/scrambling) and/or Tahquitz Peak fire lookout (established trail) if you haven't. Lots to do around there without wheels. Check in with the ranger station, get a map, any permits you might need for hiking, restriction info.

    If you do bring a bike, Ramona Trail on Thomas Mountain is worthy and makes a nice loop heading up from the east or west. Also what evdog, sidewalk and TTT said.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by TTTURNER View Post
    Are you guys pushing your bikes all the way up the Cactus to Clouds, or are you stapping them to your back? That just doesn't sound very fun.
    The Guadalupe is brutal. There's was a new trail cut around the year 2000 about 10 miles up the Santa Rosa Mountain road. I was told that that it was cut by the forestry service. It ran over to the Sawmill. I don't know if it is still there.
    We took pedals off and pushed our bikes up. Maxwell had a downtube pad and would lift the bike onto his shoulder occasionally but there was too much brush to carry it all the way. And it was too long. With pushing the bike, at least when you stop you're not supporting that weight.

    These trip reports get re-posted every so often. Not sure why people keep recommending this "ride" to others. Looking back at trip reports maybe C2C was a lot harder than I remember. It has been almost 10 years. I still think Guadalupe would be harder to follow, and it is not a constant descent - there are lots of short ups that would require dismount. C2C has a couple climbs if you make it to Flat Rock, otherwise it is a pretty consistent descent.

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    Do you have any more info on where the new trail up Santa Rosa was? 10 miles would put it beyond Sawmill Trail - maybe near Stump Spring? And then it comes back to Sawmill Trail, or to the Sawmill itself? Or are you referring to the Sawmill Trail that drops down from Santa Rosa Mtn Rd to the top of Road S705? I have ridden that a few times back down to Pinyon Flat campground. If there is something else up there we should definitely revive it.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post
    Do you have any more info on where the new trail up Santa Rosa was? 10 miles would put it beyond Sawmill Trail - maybe near Stump Spring? And then it comes back to Sawmill Trail, or to the Sawmill itself? Or are you referring to the Sawmill Trail that drops down from Santa Rosa Mtn Rd to the top of Road S705? I have ridden that a few times back down to Pinyon Flat campground. If there is something else up there we should definitely revive it.
    The only thing that I remember about the trail is it started a little below the Santa Rosa campground. I think its about 10 miles up the Santa Rosa Mountain fire road to the trailhead. I last rode it in the early 2000's. There was nothing more than a grading stick with a piece of orange tape. You had to know it was there. For all I know, there may be a more permanent trail marker there now. The last time that I rode it was in the fall, and all of the oak leaves and pine cones made it tough to find the trail. It comes out at the Sawmill. You take the switchbacks down from the Sawmill to the Sugarloaf Cafe. Both of the guys that I used to ride it with moved away shortly after we started riding it.
    Is this a route that you have done? I don't do many group rides anymore. So, I'm kinda clueless whether this trail is still in use.

  17. #17
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    Yeah that sounds like the Sawmill Trail. I didn't realize it was that new. I've ridden it three times. There is a sign at the top but it's easy to miss, and the trail is still not easy to follow in some places. The last time I rode it there were lots of trees down, some of them very big. Given how hard it is to get to and how short it is, it's arguable whether it is worth the effort. It's either a long pedal up the road or a long shuttle, much worse if you don't have a driver and have to retrieve the shuttle vehicle afterwards. We did it once and then connected into PCE which made for an awesome ride. That or a beat the heat ride are the only reasons I'd do it now. I can recall at one time some forum members got wind of it and shuttled all the way up there with DH bikes expecting a rad descent. They were quite bitter about it after. The trail was too short, too slow and switchbacky, and several downtubes got dented because the road was so rough. They didn't get a lot of sympathy.

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