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Hiking at Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve: Indian Palms Oasis

A sign in the parking lot points the way
A sign in the parking lot points the way
Deb Stanley

After visiting Pushawalla Palms, Horseshoe Palms, Hidden Palms, McCallum Grove and Willis Palms -- there was just one oasis left to visit at Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve – Indian Palms.

Indian Palms Oasis
Deb Stanley

The docent at the Visitor’s Center warned that Indian Palms is the “least visited” oasis and the trail is rockier that other trails on the preserve, but we were looking forward to seeing the area,

We started the hike at the sign in the Visitor’s Center parking lot (directions below). About five spots down, on the south side of the lot, visitors will find a sign that says, “Trail to Indian, Horseshoe, Pushawalla and Hidden Palms Oasis.” Follow the trail, and the footsteps in the sand, about 0.2 miles through the desert to the road. You’ll need to cross the road, but be careful, many drivers go pretty fast through this stretch.

On the other side of the road, hike back in the desert. It’s just a few steps to the trail split that points hikers going northeast for Indian Palms. From here, it’s time to start looking for brown trail signs. They’re about hip high and spaced throughout the desert. Depending on how high the bushes are, the signs can be hard to spot. Just try to follow the signs up the wash.

After another 0.2 miles, you’ll come to a spot where the trail turns right/east. You’ll spot it because there’s a line of small rocks across the wash, and you’ll see the browns signs leading east. Important note, on our second visit here, we missed the turn, so watch carefully.

As you hike east across the desert valley, you may see some palms in the distance, that’s where you’re heading.

About 0.7 miles from the trailhead, the trail splits. If you picked up a map at the Visitor’s Center, you’ll see Indian Palms actually has two red lines on the trail map. That’s because the trail splits and goes up two different canyons. The docent recommended going to the left, so we did.

In the left fork there are two places with clumps of palm trees. The first clump had about six trees, but we kept going to the larger oasis. As we hiked around the oasis, we found the remnants of an old vehicle, an old bed spring from a mattress and what appeared to be the rusted bed frame.

Find a nice spot in the shade to sit and imagine living in this oasis. One decent said this was a camp when workers were building the nearby aqueduct in the early 1900s. There are reports that the camp may have been a place for ladies of a certain profession to make money, but I wasn’t able to find any details on the internet.

When you’re done exploring, return you came or go back to the last trail split and head up the other fork of Indian Palms. We explored that other fork, but there were no human remnants and less shade.

Find more hikes at Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve and more than two dozen hikes in the area here.

Details: The hike from the Visitor’s Center to the left fork of the Indian Palms and back is about 1.6 miles. It’s about 2 miles roundtrip if you explore both forks. There is very little elevation gain along the trail.

Admission: Please consider a $5 donation per person.

Directions: From Interstate 10, exit Bob Hope Drive and north. Go to Varner Road and turn right/east. Turn left/north on Ramon Road and drive north about 4.5 miles to 1000 Palms Canyon Road. Turn left and drive 2 miles to the preserve's parking lot on the left.

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