8 great hikes for kids near Palm Springs
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FRAMFreshBreeze #CollectiveBias
Hiking, camping and adventuring is my family’s happy place. My mood tanks when I’ve been cooped up indoors for too long, so I’m always looking for the next trail or campground. Southern California is an amazing place to live and explore, especially with your kids. My kids always want to know where we are headed next and I love to see their passion for the outdoors.
Our home base is Palm Springs, so I thought I would compile a list of 10 awesome trails in and around our awesome town. These are all great spots for anyone living or visiting Southern California.
Joshua Tree – Geology Tour Rd
About an hour from Palm Springs, there are a ton of places to explore in Joshua Tree with your kids. If you’re up for some real fun, head in through the north entrance into Joshua Tree National Park. Travel down the main road until you reach Geology Tour Rd, which will be on your right (before Jumbo Rocks Campground). This is an in-vehicle, 18 mile tour (you’ll need 4 wheel drive to complete it) but there are stops along the way. Pick any one, pull off and explore Joshua Tree minus the crowds.
Right in the heart of Palm Springs, you’ll find a beautiful 2 mile loop of desert views. From the visitor center, you gain about 350 feet in elevation, all easy terrain for kids to navigate. There are 9 points of interest all which note Native American history so it is a great educational lesson as well. Note that for most of the trail, you’re exposed to the sun, so make sure you bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen/hats. During the spring, especially after a wet winter like we had this year, there will be a couple times where you pass over water.
And, at the top destination, there will be a pretty rad waterfall that the kids can splash around near. This area is covered in tree branches, shady and cool, also gorgeous.
Just over an hour drive, Walker Canyon in the Temescal Mountains (near Lake Elsinore) is a 3.5 out and back trail that has beautiful wildflowers, especially in the spring. It is a moderate trail, perfect for families with kids and the dog on a leash. This last time we went, the Superbloom was in full effect and it was absolutely breathtaking.
The view was just endless mountains, covered in yellow and orange poppies.
Okay, this one isn’t technically a trail, but it is a place to see and explore, for sure. From Palm Springs, head east towards Niland, CA. It’ll take about an hour and a half to reach Salvation Mountain. Salvation Mountain is the creation of Leonard Knight, a local artist. The mountain is made completely of local adobe, straw and thousands of gallons of lead-free paint. It is impossible to comprehend the beauty and emotional impact this tribute has until you experience it in person. Guaranteed, your kids are going to love to hike up this “mountain”!
Ladder Canyon Trail
We just visited this trail with the kids for the first time. Ladder Canyon Trail is in Painted Canyon, near Mecca, CA. It is a 45 minute drive east from Palm Springs. This unique desert landscape features gorgeous slot canyons, colorful mineral deposits and precariously balanced ladders that allow hikers to travel up dry waterfalls. It is a 6.5 mile loop so it’s only for the adventurous family who is comfortable with climbing. Bring PLENTY of water. Note that you can visit this area, climb a few ladders and turn back without completing the entire loop – depends on your kids’ ages and energy levels.
30 minutes west of Palm Springs is Whitewater Preserve. Whitewater Preserve is 2,851 acres surrounded by the Bureau of Land Management San Gorgonio Wilderness and is part of the Conservancy’s 33,000-acre Sand to Snow Preserve System. Free to public, you can come to the ranger station and check out the trout farm, have a picnic and even splash around in the natural pools. You can also hike. Hop onto a PCT (Pacific Crest Trail that goes from Mexico to Canada) and hike to Red Dome, a moderate 4.5 mile loop. There is also Canyon View Trail, a moderate 3.5 mile loop.
Chances are, you’re not going to be hiking the Cactus to Clouds trail (extremely difficult) with kids, which starts in Palm Springs and ascends 10,700 feet-a vertical half-mile more than Mt. Whitney. Instead, take the aerial tram up and then hike down the concrete path into the gorgeous wilderness that is Mount San Jacinto National Park. Here you will find many trail heads to traverse – 54 miles of hiking trails to be specific.
For stunning views of the Coachella Valley, take the easy Desert View Trail (1.5 mile loop). In the winter, all of Long Valley and beyond will be blanketed with snow – a perfect winter escape in the desert.
We frequent these canyons often. Both Palm and Andreas Canyon are incredible palm grove oases in the middle of the “barren” desert. These types of desert trails are perfect for kids since they offer a chance to stop and play in the water, in the shade of very old palm trees. Our favorite trail is Andreas Canyon, which is an easy 1 mile loop. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy before or after your hike since there are lots of picnic tables at the trail head.
There are tons of other trails that are great for kids in and around Palm Springs. I’ll be sharing lots more this spring/summer so check back for those. Before you head out on your next road trip, make sure your car is in prime condition. Last year, I shared a Car Care Checklist so head to that post and get your car road trip-ready. I’m adding more thing to my list – a FRAM Fresh Breeze® Cabin Air Filter.
When you’re cooped up in the car, heading to your next adventure, ensure that he air you’re breathing is fresh and filtered. I have to be honest here and say, I didn’t know there was a cabin air filter or how easy it was to change it. I’m not car-savvy and neither is my husband, admitted. It is an often overlooked part of routine car maintenance and you can do it yourself!
The air inside your car can be up to 6x dirtier than the air outside. How gross is that? Considering how much time we spend traveling in our cars, changing our cabin air filter should be a top priority. Keep your family breathing clean air with a FRAM Fresh Breeze® cabin air filter that filters up to 98%* of dust, dirt and allergens from entering your vehicle. This cabin air filter is the only cabin air filter that uses the natural deodorizing qualities of ARM & HAMMER® baking soda. Head to Walmart to buy your FRAM Fresh Breeze® cabin air filter, which can be found in the automotive department with other filters and oils.
To change our cabin air filter in the Honda Pilot, we simply pulled out the glove box, unsnapped the old filter, pulled it out – ew.
Discarded the old filter and replaced with a new FRAM Fresh Breeze® cabin air filter. Easy peasy!
Find out if your car has a cabin air filter and which FRAM filter you need at Walmart. Unsure of how to change your cabin air filter? Head to FRAMFreshBreeze.com for installation guides (both video and written). *Follow recommended change intervals as noted in your vehicle owner’s manual.