We just finished another short, but sweet hike in Palm Springs!! The Earl Henderson Trail is an easy, four mile hike that intersects with a few other trails along the Santa Rosa Mountains in the south Palm Springs area. I’ve been on parts of this trail many times, but only on horseback and had never hiked it on foot with my dogs. We had originally planned on doing the Shannon Trail Loop (new to me) which connects with the Henderson Trail, but as we hiked farther up the mountain, we found a sign that said no dogs allowed because we were entering big horn sheep habitat. Several of the hikes within the mountains border sensitive habitat and have been closed in recent years as the population of the sheep has dwindled.The last count of big horn sheep in the area (that I know of) was at 300. So while I would have loved to see what the rest of the trail looked like, we turned around and hiked back down the Henderson. I thought about coming back without the dogs, but I really want to keep this a pet-friendly blog as much as possible, so I’m only going to write about the part you can actually take your dogs on. Of course, horses are pets, too, and I could be, oh, so easily persuaded to explore the rest of the trail on horseback one day.
Right after parking, you’ll see a little neighborhood to your left (above). Stay to the right and follow the path down the wash to the trail head. You’ll see the marker (below) for the Palm Springs Trail. Stay to your right, going up the trial.
The hike only took about three hours and the views were really spectacular for such a short hike, and so close to town. In fact, since we finished earlier than I had planned due to the closure, we were able to explore a neat little neighborhood at the foot of the trail. It’s an eclectic mix of expensive villas, simple, mid-century gems, newer Santa Fe style homes, and authentic adobes. I saw people caring groceries from the local market as they walked up the road; unheard of in Southern California!
View of the rock house ruins. It’s private property, so don’t trespass, but wouldn’t it be fun to restore and live in? You can see the little community of homes below.
Beautiful homes are nestled in among the mountains.
My favorite one is below. Really wanted to walk up and ask to take a nap by their pool.
After about 15 minutes of total chaos, the dogs settle into an easy group walk.
View of Canyon Country Club, above, and Smoke Tree Stables below.
My first job in the desert!
Smoke Tree Ranch.
The equestrian group, Desert Riders, still help maintain these trails for riders and hikers.
Here’s where the Shannon and Henderson Trails meet up. And there’s that pesky little “No Dogs Allowed” sign.
The desert has a beautiful patina on the rocks from years of baking sun and little signs of life are everywhere if you look for them.
A very pretty example of desert landscaping in the community adjacent to the mountains and trails.
The trail is really easy to get to: In Palm Springs, turn off Hwy 111 onto Araby Drive, cross over the desert wash (paved) and park on your immediate left. As you head up the wash, the mountains will be on your left, and you’ll see a sign for the Palm Springs Trail just after the little neighborhood I told you about. Go up the trail and you’ll come to the Henderson Trail sign. Keep going and you’ll see another two signs, both for the Shannon and the Henderson. If you don’t have your dogs you can go on and do the loop, or just stay on the Henderson like we did, until it stops at the Garstin trail and head back. The Garstin eventually hooks up with the Shannon, so I wasn’t able to go that way either because of the dogs. From here you can see the famous Smoke Tree Ranch, former home of Walt Disney and other wealthy snow birds. You can also see Smoke Tree Stables where you can rent horses for rides to the Indian Canyons. I’ll have to share a post on them later, since it really is a special place for me. You”ll see beautiful homes tucked away in the mountains, their sparkly pools and water fountains beckoning you to jump in (and once, Daisy did, many years ago, much to the owner’s surprise and disbelief!!) and you can see for miles and miles across the desert.
Daisy gave this hike 4 out of 5 wags!!